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Forced sales dumped as government introduces strata reform to Assembly

Dominic Giannini 29 November 2019 1
Attorney-General Gordon Ramsay

Attorney-General Gordon Ramsay says the government has listened to the concerns and advice from the industry and community. Photo: File.

Controversial plans that could have forced ACT apartment owners to sell their properties have not been included in the government’s new Managing Buildings Better reforms, which was tabled in the Legislative Assembly on Thursday.

In NSW, cancellation of unit plans, which are also referred to as mandatory collective sales, means an owner’s corporation can sell an entire building if 75 per cent of owners agree to the sale, and those who oppose the sale are forced to sell anyway.

In the ACT, the support of all owners is needed to sell a building, as was the case in NSW prior to 2016.

The idea was canvassed during the government’s consultative discussions but was never official policy.

An ACT Government spokesperson said the government was not convinced that such changes could adequately protect owners.

“We are not satisfied that apartment owners, particularly vulnerable people, can be sufficiently protected in any changes,” the spokesperson said.

Attorney-General Gordon Ramsay said the government had listened to the concerns and advice from the industry and community before tabling the first part of its reform package on Thursday.

“By engaging in a thorough consultative process with industry and community groups, we have been able to prioritise a series of reforms that will benefit those that own, live or work in buildings across the ACT,” Mr Ramsay said.

“This means empowering buyers and existing owners with upfront information on their rights and responsibilities, [and] providing fairer and more equitable distribution of building costs.”

Under the new laws, developers need to provide maintenance plans, while flexible voting and communication arrangements will make it easier for owners to have their say.

More detailed information will also be made available to buyers about levies, maintenance and possible changes to the development after a sale.

Minister for Planning and Land Management Mick Gentleman says the reforms will make it fairer and easier for Canberrans who live and work in buildings that form part of a units plan.

“The reforms introduced today will provide better outcomes for residents and businesses to manage the shared spaces they live in, work in, and enjoy,” Mr Gentleman said.

“It’s become even more important to ensure those living and buying into apartments and townhouses get a fair go as Canberra continues to grow and our Planning Strategy focuses development around employment and transport hubs.

“One major change will mean that buyers will receive more regular updates during apartment construction and can exit their contract when a developer makes changes they are unhappy with instead of having to wait until settlement.”


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One Response to Forced sales dumped as government introduces strata reform to Assembly
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HiddenDragon HiddenDragon 6:48 pm 29 Nov 19

“We are not satisfied that apartment owners, particularly vulnerable people, can be sufficiently protected in any changes,” the spokesperson said.

Sounds like good news.

We are surely not yet at the stage in Canberra (still quite a new city) where a compelling public interest argument could be made for forcing people to sell their apartments so that a greater number of apartments (or more expensive apartments) could be built on the same land.

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