Recommendation for Strata Buildings to review Building Materials

Due to the recent events, It is advised that Strata Buildings review their own procedures and own properties.  The Department of Fair Trading has advised that;

Building work in Australia must conform and comply with the National Construction Code(NCC), relevant technical standards, and local laws. This ensures our buildings are safe, healthy and durable which means we all can have confidence in their performance.

The products and materials a Strata Scheme selects, approves and how they are used must also be ‘fit for purpose’.

In recent years, concerns have been raised about the risks of using substandard (‘non-conforming’) building products or materials, or using them incorrectly (‘non-complying’). Use of these products can cause significant costs – from repairing and replacing products, to risks to safety, or even building failure.

Owners Corporations  can reduce and manage the risks associated with using non-conforming and/or non-complying building products by following five simple steps:

  1. Be informed about non-conforming and non-complying building products
  2. Be involved in the building product decision making process
  3. Be aware of the building regulatory system
  4. Be smart by using schemes that assure products
  5. Get help when you need it.

What are non-conforming and non-complying building products? 

In simple terms, non-conforming refers to ‘bad products, while non-compliant refers to products that are ‘used badly.

NSW is working with the Commonwealth and other State and Territory jurisdictions on strategies to reduce the risks from non-conforming and non-complying building products and materials.

Non-conforming building products and materials are those that:

  • claim to be something they are not
  • do not meet required standards for their intended use, or
  • are marketed or supplied with the intent to deceive those who use them.

So, a building product that is labelled or described as being “non-combustible” but which is in fact “combustible” is a non-conforming building product. 

Non-complying building products and materials are those that are used in situations where they do not comply with the requirements of the National Construction Code(NCC), other laws and Australian Standards.

That is a building product that is combustible, and described as such, but is used in a situation where a non-combustible product is required under the NCC, is not fit for purpose and is a non-complying product.

Who is responsible? 

Everyone in the supply chain has a responsibility to be involved and ensure the right products and materials are used in the right way in a building project.

Owners Corporations/Strata Committee members  place in the supply chain can also mean they have specific obligations or duties to check and assure that the right products and materials are used, and are used correctly.

Depending on your place in the supply chain you can face specific risks and liabilities if products and materials are non-complying or non-conforming.

Architects, designers, engineers and other specialists  

Architects, Designers, Engineers and other specialists involved in the planning, design and construction of buildings must ensure that any products, materials or systems specified or approved for use in their designs are appropriately approved, ‘fit for purpose’, and meet the performance requirements of the building elements in which they are used.

Approvers and certifiers  

Approvers and certifiers of development and construction have responsibilities for ensuring that plans and specifications and critical aspects of construction comply with Codes, standards and laws.

They can also have a role in inspecting building and construction and need to be aware of the signs and symptoms of the bad products being used, or products and materials being used badly. Evidence of the suitability of a product or material should be sought where necessary.

Developers, builders and other specialist tradespersons 

Developers, Builders and other specialist tradespersons do the work of installing and building with products and materials. They are not the only people responsible for ensuring that conforming and complying products and materials are used, but much of the risk and responsibility falls to them because they are the ones that ultimately do the building work.

They are also the ones most likely to have to do the work of rectifying or remedying problems that arise from using products badly, or using bad products. Therefore before a product or material is used, they should be satisfied as to that components suitability.

Pet Application Form

Like most of you, we also love having a loyal companion by our side when we are at home. However, many establishments have strict laws on pet ownership, depending on the property.

Many properties will accept pets with a various different constraints. You will need to review your dwellings rules to establish what pet you can apply for.

DOWNLOAD THE APPLICATION FORM HERE

Be careful – Wrong jurisdiction means you can win, but still loose

The Supreme Court has recently ordered a lot owner who succeeded in litigation against an owners corporation to pay the owners corporation’s costs because the dispute between the parties could have been dealt with by NCAT. This is one of the first times a litigant has been punished by an adverse costs order for approaching the Supreme Court for relief which could have been given by NCAT. (EB 9 &10 Pty Ltd -v- The Owners – SP 934 [2018] NSWSC 464. )

Normally, the loser of a court case is ordered to pay the legal costs of the winner. This is the usual rule that applies to most litigation. However, in this case, the Supreme Court took a different approach. Even though the owners corporation lost the case, the Court ordered the lot owner to pay the owners corporation’s costs.

The strata legislation gives the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal (NCAT) broad power to resolve Strata disputes. This means that NCAT is able to make orders to resolve most types of strata disputes including disputes between lot owners and owners corporations. This reflects the intention of the NSW Parliament that NCAT should sort out most strata disputes, not the Supreme Court.

Residential noise restrictions

What times are residential noise restrictions in place?

The Protection of the Environment (Noise Control) Regulation 2008 covers neighbourhood noise laws. There are time restrictions on when noise from residential premises should not be heard inside a neighbour’s residence. An offence occurs if the noise continues after a warning has been given by a council or police officer.

Time-of-day noise restrictions

During these times, noise should not be heard in a habitable room in a neighbour’s residence.

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Selecting a Strata Manager

Each property and property owner has various needs, expectations, geographic influences and more. Finding a strata manager to suit your requirements is essential, here are some things to look for when selecting your next Strata Manager:

Communication, Professionalism and People Skills

Honest and transparent communication is a must. Knowing that your Strata manager is telling you’re the truth and is across all your needs and requirements is the starting point. You will trust them to do many things on your behalf such as; paying levies, organising the repairs and maintenance, and ensuring your building meets the requirements of the legislation.

Experience & Qualifications

Managing an owners corporation requires experience. An experienced strata manager can often identify issues before they arise and thus saving money in the long term. It is also advised to select a strata manager that understand the market and clientele. Each geographic region in Australia has differences and needs, so finding a Strata Manager that understands everything about your property is going to benefit you and your tenants.

Also, ensure that your Strata Manager is properly qualified and knowledgeable. A fully qualified, licensed strata manager, for instance, will have undergone years of training in strata management and the process. training in areas like trust accounting to risk analysis. For example, in New South Wales and Sydney a Certificate of Registration and Certificate IV in Property Services is required.

Speak to us today about how you can find a strata manager to suit you.

Development Bond Information

Developers are required to lodge a 2% bond for residential and mixed-use high-rise strata buildings of 4 or more storeys.

The proposed amendments to the building bond is to enhance the ability of the Department of Fair Trading to verify the building contract price (which is the basis of the bond) and to clarify the role of the building inspector in the scheme.

Below are the proposed amendments:

  • Developers must lodge a building bond before applying for the occupation certificate.
  • The owners corporation and the developer must agree on the amount to be released from the bond to meet the costs of fixing identified building defects.
  • New powers for the Department of Fair Trading which will enable the verification of the amount of the contract price or building bond.
  • New entry to premises and search warrant powers.
  • An increase in the maximum penalty for failing to lodge the building bond from $22,000 to $1.1 million.
  • An offence for to provide false / misleading information to the Secretary in relation to the contract price or the building bond.
  • New ‘good faith’ liability protection for building inspectors, and the professional associations that appointed them, which excludes them from liability for anything done or omitted to be done in ‘good faith’ in conducting an inspection.

To see more information on the Regulations Amendment, use the link below:

http://www.fairtrading.nsw.gov.au/biz_res/ftweb/pdfs/About_us/Have_your_say/Strata_building_bond_and_inspections_scheme_Regulation_amendments_table.pdf

Please also view the Department of Fair Trading for even more information.

http://www.fairtrading.nsw.gov.au/ftw/About_us/Have_your_say/Strata_Building_Bond_and_Inspections_Scheme.page

Image result for dept fair trading nsw

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-04-19/nbn-lottery-did-you-win-and-get-fttc/9674884

See the full article here:

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-04-19/nbn-lottery-did-you-win-and-get-fttc/9674884

Reminder: Child safety locks deadline

Strata owners are reminded that childproof and robust safety devices must be fitted to all common property windows above the ground floor by 13 March 2018.

Windows can still be opened but only to a maximum of 12.5cm.

Self Managed Buildings

Self Managed Buildings can cause many headaches, which we discuss below. There are many property owners that are unaware of their responsibilities or their rights when their property is a body corporate-managed building or an owners corporation building. Lack of concern from the lot owners is a leading factor that contributes to many issues, damage and more.

Due to this fact there are many mistakes made by both the owners corporation and body corporate. Most of which cost a lot of time and money. More importantly it can severely affect the overall quality and upkeep of the building.

Colleagues holding question mark signs in front of their faces

Here are some of the most common:

  1. Right’s and responsibilities and unpaid fee’s to the owners corporation or body corporate.

To be able to conduct regular maintenance on the building and facilities payments need to be up to date so that the owners corporation or body corporate can carry out important work on the property. Many buildings in Sydney are ageing and need constant upkeep and attention to keep the building as an attractive prospect for tenants. Many owners simply don’t know their responsibilities or rights, which leads to costly mistakes by the owners corporation or body corporate, it can also affect the overall building quality.

As a building gets older and becomes rundown due to improper maintenance the safety of the property becomes a concern adding further to the attractiveness of the property and less likely to find tenants and lowering it’s resale value.

  1. Contractor payments

Many owners don’t realise the importance of paying contractors on a timely fashion. Many have incentives for on time or early payments and when these are not paid on time it can cost a lot more money and also disgruntle a preferred contractor or service provider.

  1. Enforcement of by-laws and building laws

These standards and by-laws may incorporate what proprietors and occupants can have on their balconies/outdoor areas, what pets are permitted, how facilities are to be used, and that’s only the tip of the iceberg. Neglecting to adhere to these can bring about a messy building, damage and create less appeal towards renters and buyers. It can likewise end up hard to authorize different standards and by-laws, since part proprietors won’t welcome the irregularity.

  1. Neglecting to employ a professional strata service

Numerous proprietors partnerships and bodies corporate choose to self-oversee which can have a few advantages as long as everything is functioning admirably. In any case, if an issue emerges, self-guided proprietors enterprise and bodies corporate are off guard. It’s harder to determine issues, oversee authoritative prerequisites, look after progression, and convey a first-rate benefit for good-natured volunteers. What’s more, when a proprietors company or body corporate ends up overwhelmed by an intense identity, which frequently happens, things can see issues get out of control quickly.

These are just a few things that makes us a leader in Sydney Strata management.

To learn more contact SYDNEY STRATA SPECIALISTS today.

Parties and loud noise

When it comes to noise complaints, parties and strata management, it is against the law to affect the sleep of others. Please check your building or states laws, as they may differ:

Take a look here. 

best-strata-managerIf you or your tenant wish to lodge a complaint about the noise of a neighbour, calling the police should be your last resort.  This creates conflict and, at times, an uncomfortable living environment moving forward. We advise that you do your research regarding your specific situation, especially on the laws and policy, before escalating further. If you have a relationship with the neighbour in question, try and resolve in a reasonable and friendly manner.

Alternatively, the owner’s corporation can be used to issue your neighbour with a compliance notice if all else fails.

Please keep in mind that if you are planning an event or party of your own, you should advise your neighbours prior to the event. Not only does this show respect to those in close proximity to you, they will appreciate the thought and gesture.