Landgate recently released a Consultation Paper on behalf of the WA government proposing significant changes to the Strata Titles Act 1985 (WA).
The consultation process will close mid-January 2015 and various government agencies as well as industry and business bodies have already submitted comments on the proposed changes. If the proposed reforms become law there will be exciting opportunities for property developers to use a more flexible and streamlined strata title framework.
Currently, Western Australia has very restrictive requirements about the mode, also known as the tenure, in which properties included in strata title schemes are held. In fact, Western Australia is the only Australian state that cannot include commercial, residential and shared property lots in a single strata title scheme or building. This means that multi-use property developments, such as Claremont Quarter as well as the City Link and Elizabeth Quay involve particularly complex legal processes. Landgate has thereby proposed the introduction of the following flexible tenure arrangements.
- Community Title Schemes –these schemes will permit sufficiently large property developments to include lots with both retail and residential uses.
- Community Title in a building – these titles will permit multiple strata schemes in one building with different uses such as residential, commercial and retail lots.
- Leasehold strata over freehold land – this arrangement will permit a landowner to retain ownership of the land and provide the developer with only a lease to develop strata-titles.
- Strata schemes with more flexible staged development procedures –For strata schemes where there are stages of development (for example some lots will be occupied by residents whilst others are being built) there will no longer be a need for unanimous resolutions for minor amendments.
Further, Landgate has proposed various other changes in their Consultation Paper which include:
- more rigorous disclosure requirements to prospective purchasers of strata title;
- streamlined processes to terminate strata schemes to upgrade buildings;
- various reforms to the management of strata schemes;
- the ability for local governments to reduce rates when some of the infrastructure usually maintained by local authorities are provided by the community corporation; and
- some strata title disputes that are currently dealt with by the District Court will be able to be heard at the State Administrative Tribunal (SAT).
These various proposed changes to strata titles in Western Australia could bring about much needed reform to streamline building projects in the future. The Consultation Paper is available online and any member of the public can submit comments on the reforms online. You can read more about the proposed reforms, access proposed other documents related to the Consultation Paper and register to submit comments on the Landgate website .