A year of living strategically

Wednesday 14 Dec 2011

As this is the last Flat Chat for the year, let's look at what's happened in strata in the past 12 months.

We got a new Fair Trading Minister when the state government changed and Anthony Roberts defied the traditions of his position by actually doing stuff - not that that was always a good thing for strata owners.

He handed a free kick to every dodgy developer in the state by restricting the claims period for non-structural defects to two years.

''Structural'' basically means the bits of the building that prevent a high-rise from becoming a pile of rubble. So, for instance, if your balconies or windows aren't subjected to torrential rain for the first two years of your building's life, it's tough cheese if they leak like a federal cabinet the first time a monsoon sweeps through.

On the plus side, Roberts changed the legislation so that when you do pursue defects, you don't have to track down every subcontractor for your claim. The buck stops with the developer or the builder.

The Consumer, Trader & Tenancy Tribunal is undergoing a wide-ranging review - not before time - as part of the government's desire to simplify the whole tribunal system.

Fair Trading, along with the Lands Department, strata professionals and the Owners Corporation Network (strata owners), developed a new ''memorandum'' of what's common property and what's an individual owner's responsibility. It's a really good document but you have to adopt it as a bylaw before it applies to your building

Overcrowding and multi-occupancy became an issue, as did soaring rents and competition for rental spots as more and more people were looking for homes and fewer of them were being built. Go figure.

And here at Flat Chat, the website's forum took off, allowing me - plus strata professionals and other owners - to answer a lot more of your questions or, at the very least, let you know that you're not alone. We're not quite a family - maybe more of a digital high-rise community.

My thanks, a merry Christmas and a happy New Year to all of them - and all of you.

Sydney Morning Herald

- Jimmy Thomson - Sydney Morning Herald