Hopes high for OC reform Bill

By Lina Le

After five years, owners’ corporations may finally see legislative reform enter the Victorian Parliament this year.

The new reforms are going to strengthen the operation of owners’ corporations, giving owners’ corporations more power and control over maintenance and safety decisions, and lifting eligibility requirements for owners’ corporation managers, among other things.

Back in 2013, the Owners Corporations Act 2006 was reviewed with the aim of identifying and making improvements to existing legislation.

In August 2015, a comprehensive review of consumer property law was announced. This review includes the Owners Corporation Act 2006.

The first step in the review was the release and consultation of three issues papers during 2015-2016, which covered a range of issues including the conduct of owners’ corporation managers and the management of owners’ corporations.

The second stage of the review started in November 2016 with the release of an options paper streamlining the ways owners’ corporations make decisions and resolve disputes.

Public submissions to the options paper closed on December 16, 2016 and Consumer Affairs Victoria has been considering feedback received to inform the development of the government’s proposed reform package.

Almost three years since the process started, a spokesperson from Consumer Affairs Victoria confirmed that a Bill outlining reforms was expected to be introduced into parliament later this year.

Commenting on the delay to the review, Strata Titles Lawyers CEO Tom Bacon said: “It is strange that the consultation ended a year ago and the options papers sat there for several months before the process of reviewing the draft bill started.”

Reforms of current strata laws have been installed throughout Australia in recent years. In NSW, new strata laws were passed in November 2016. In WA, a draft strata Bill is due to be delivered into parliament in the next six months. Changes to Queensland’s body corporate law is also underway after public submission closed in May last year.

After three years of delay, Victorian owners’ corporations are still awaiting vital changes to the law to bring them into line with other states.

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