Western Australia’s Cabinet has given approval for the drafting of a new bill to amend the state’s Strata Titles Act, expected to be introduced to parliament in the second half of the year.

Landgate, the Western Australian statutory authority in charge of progressing the state’s strata reform, has revealed changes to proposed reforms following feedback on a consultation paper released last year.

A key change is the reduction in percentage of owners needed to force a termination of a strata scheme, now down to 75 per cent, which Landgate says was made following feedback and discussion with interstate experts.

Currently all owners in a strata scheme are required to approve a termination request.

Originally Landgate’s consultation paper proposed a sliding scale of owner percentages required to approve a termination:

  • 95 per cent for a scheme aged 15 or more years but less than 20 years
  • 90 per cent for a scheme aged 20 or more years but less than 30 years
  • 80 per cent for a scheme aged 30 or more years

This has now been changed to a blanket 75 per cent for schemes of four lots of more, which is in line with reforms progressed in NSW.

“Feedback and further research showed the condition of a building does not always relate to its age,” a Landgate presentation said. “Reforms now advocate for a 75 per cent majority vote with protections in place for owners.

“A 75 per cent majority vote, however, will not automatically be given effect. Every application for termination must undergo a review by [the State Administrative Tribunal]. In all cases, this review will assess procedure and fairness to all owners. The tribunal will assess the condition of the strata complex, the ability of owners to refurbish it and the cost to repairs compared to ending the scheme. Owners will also be given access to advice and advocacy on how to handle a termination proposal, and fair compensation if it does go ahead.”

The SAT decision can also be appealed in the Supreme Court.

Other key reforms include:

  • the introduction of two new types of strata title – Community Title and Leasehold strata schemes over freehold land
  • more flexibility for staged strata development
  • information given to buyers before they sign a strata purchase contract to be improved and simplified
  • faster resolution of strata disputes
  • improvement of regulations of strata managers by imposing key duties and obligations they must perform

In our previous article, we noted a submission by Chiara Pacifici, head of sustainability at developer Psaros, which said the strata reforms should make specific mention to “sustainability infrastructure”.

Key to the proposal was a reduction in the percentage of strata members needing to approve the installation of sustainability infrastructure on lots and common property.

“It should be a lot easier for lot owners to retrofit their properties,” she told The Fifth Estate.

While the idea of sustainability infrastructure was noted in the Consultation Summary as “being considered due to the high levels of feedback received”, a statement on the reforms put out by Landgate has not listed it as a change that will be implemented.

A Landgate statement provided to The Fifth Estate said: “The strata title reforms will make it much easier to install sustainability or utility infrastructure on common property within a strata or survey-strata scheme by requiring only a special resolution (at least 50 per cent of the lot proprietors in favour and no more than 25 per cent of the lot proprietors voting against) of the strata company.  Those powers will include the power to:

  • own and operate the sustainability or utility infrastructure on common property
  • hold the income generated by the sustainability or utility infrastructure in trust for the proprietors and distribute that income to the proprietors in proportion to their unit entitlement.”