Changes to the Unit Titles Legislation Amendment Act 2020. How do they affect you?
12 months ago the powers that be got together and agreed that the Unit Titles Legislation Amendment Act 2011 (henceforth referred to as the UTMA) needed to be updated to incorporate new technology and changes to the way people live in this new decade.
The changes have been designed to take away a lot of grey areas in strata management and to provide more definitions that remove the ambiguity that the old legislation had. Big issues were tackled, including pets and technology. This follows an emergency amendment earlier in the year that allowed for people to attend meetings online.
These updates have now been released and went into effect on 1 November 2020 with a 12-month transition period. Strata owners and those that live in strata-titled buildings are going to see some changes to the way their complex operates.
Independent is holding some information evenings in November and if you are on one of our Executive Committees, you should have received a quick fact guide already. we have also outlined the biggest changes below.
New Pet Friendly Rule added to Default Rules!
This change brings strata legislation in line with changes to the Residential Tenancies Act. As of November, no consent is required for residents to have an assistance animal in their dwelling. In addition, if a resident request permission to have an animal, consent automatically granted after three weeks if there has been no response from the committee.
All owners corporations will be automatically updated to the new rules on the 1st of November and the Pet Rules will be enforced, if the owners do not create their own, the day after their second AGM after 1st November.
Special Privileges can be granted by special resolution.
This change allows for executive committees to give individuals privileges, as long as it is for a period of less than 3 months. What does this mean? If you are planning a 30th birthday party, you can apply for exclusive use of a pool area for a night. This would be enforceable and other residents would not be able to access the area during this time.
It’s important to note that this change does not obligate executive committees to approve these requests. It simply gives them a medium for doing so. Any existing special privileges in relation to common property will all need to be re-approved after 1st November. These will be approved by special resolution at a general meeting.
Financial audits are now required.
This applies to all buildings with more than 100 units or an annual budget of more than $250,000. The purpose of this is to ensure accounts are being accurately reconciled and funds are being appropriately used.
Record keeping has changed.
There have been a few changes to our favourite part of strata (just kidding) records! From here on in all executive committee meeting and general meeting minutes must be distributed to the owners’ corporation within 14 days. In addition, records must be kept for a minimum of 7 years. Your strata manager can help you with this.
Developer and building maintenance and defects
The developer now must prepare and provide to the owners corporation at the First Annual General Meeting a maintenance schedule.
In addition, a further update prevents developers from voting on any motions relating to defective building works. This is valid for all meetings at any time the developer holds a unit/s.
Unless otherwise authorised by the owners corporation by special resolution or if ACAT makes declaration the developer will not be able to vote on any motion covering defective building work so that the owners have a more equitable process to having defects corrected by the developer. (makes it easier for the owners to take legal action against the developer).
Changes to contributions
Contributions worked out in a way other than unit entitlements I.e. by class, now only require a special resolution. This allows for more fair contributions to be applied to units that have more or less facilities than others. I.e. commercial units and water consumption or townhouses not paying for the lift in a tower of the same complex.
There are new requirements for voting
The requirement to pass a special resolution is now not more than a ¼ of votes can be against the motion. This means that in a complex of 10 units, a motion can only pass if 2 or less votes are against the motion.
There is also a new limit on how many proxies can be held by one voting member. If there are more than 20 units, that person may not have more than 5% of the total number of units as a proxy. For complexes with less than 20 units a person must not exercise more than 1 proxy vote.
In order to develop this update to the legislation, the ACT Government worked closely with key organisation in the strata management industry including Strata Communities Association and the Owners Corporation Network. These organisations tapped into their members to get feedback on the proposed changes.
You can see a full copy of the changes at legislation.act.gov.au/a/2020-4/
You can read a summary of the changes here