Unit Titles – 8 months on

The Unit Titles Act 2010 has been in force for over 8 months now.

Most bodies corporate have had their first AGM under the new Act and made the necessary decisions.

The next key date is 1 October 2012. By this date:

  • new body corporate rules are needed
  • final decisions are needed on responsibilities for maintenance
  • a long term maintenance plan will need to be put in place
  • a decision to opt in or out of having a long term maintenance fund is needed

But there is lobbying for change already and the legislation is just 8 months old. Pragmatic solutions are being adopted but we would all prefer for the new legislation to simply work well.

There are some good examples in the area of apartment conveyancing. We recommend buyers and sellers add special conditions where they can, dealing with these issues before signing the contract. As well as protecting their position it saves time and money downtrack if these issues arise. The examples include:

  • The 10 day notice period for cancellation if disclosure is not properly completed by a seller is problematic. What is the status of the contract? Who gets penalty interest if the buyer changes their mind?
  • Ensuring the deposit is recovered where the agreement has become unconditional and a buyer cancels because of non-compliance with the disclosure requirements is also difficult. If the agent has taken the deposit (quite legitimately) against commission then the buyer is forced into a position of recovering the deposit from the seller.
  • The shortcomings of the disclosure regime where there are early settlements. A seller can be out of time by the time the agreement reaches their lawyer and taken advantage of by opportunistic buyers re-negotiating terms.
  • Mortgagees are having difficulty complying with disclosure requirements when selling at a mortgagee sale – the fact that the Act does not oblige the body corporate to provide disclosure information to a mortgagee means they have very real practical difficulties getting the information and are attempting to contract out of or amend the requirements imposed on them by the Act.

There is lobbying for change in other key areas too. We support that lobbying and are assisting where we can. Everything from whom the body corporate chairperson can be, how the body corporate should sign documentation to the Act providing more assistance for important decisions such as reassessing utility interests or what is “material” when changing a unit plan. If amendments to the legislation can be made then those involved with bodies corporate will find it easier to make decisions with less need to weigh up difficult decisions and take a view.

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