20 November 2018

Mixed-use regime needs urgent overhaul, says new Strata Community Association president

| Ian Bushnell
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Chris Miller.

Newly-elected president of the ACT branch of the Strata Community Association, Chris Miller says new legislation for the growing number of developments is an urgent necessity. Photo: B2B Magazine.

Time is running out to establish a suitable regime for the proliferation of mixed-use developments across Canberra, says newly-elected president of the ACT branch of the Strata Community Association, Chris Miller.

The SCA is the peak industry body for Body Corporate and Community Title Management in Australia and New Zealand, and has the dual roles of a professional institute and consumer advocate.

Mr Miller said the ACT Government had been dragging its feet on developing a new legislative framework for the growing number of developments that combine residential, commercial and retail uses, and the issue was at the top of his to-do list.

Involved in the strata management industry for 15 years and returning to the SCA after focusing on establishing Vantage Strata with his business partners, Mr Miller said he would be engaging with major stakeholders, including the Owners Corporation Network, and knocking on the doors of Government.

“You only need to look out across our landscape to see the number of cranes on the horizon to really understand this problem is time critical,” he said.

There were a number of problems related to apartment owners, retailers, hoteliers, and other commercial businesses having to coexist that would be unsolvable once the concrete had set and many of the policy changes required would not easily be applied to buildings that were already completed.

“They will be stuck with a manifestly inadequate strata regime and only new developments will be able to see the benefit of policy change, so closing the barn door after the horse has bolted is a real concern for not only the professional strata management industry but the owners of these apartments and their peak industry body, the Owners Corporation Network,” he said.

He said how the many precinct-style developments would be titled needed to be addressed immediately.

“The problem isn’t new but it is compounding and it is becoming more and more complex,” he said.

“There were buildings previously that were a couple of commercial units on the ground floor with a bit of retail, now buildings may have a huge chunk for hotel accommodation retained as a going concern by the developer, the retail component on-sold and apartments on-sold and they all need to coexist. By their very nature, they are exponentially more complicated than mixed-use developments were 10 years ago.”

Mr Miller’s other pressing issue is advocacy and raising the profile of SCA as a peak industry body.

He said the SCA had often found itself left out of discussions and debates that were central to its role, such as building defects, strata title issues and policy changes.

“The Government doesn’t even engage in an official capacity with us as peak industry body. Often we’re having to fight to be invited to the discussion in things that are clearly in our remit,” Mr Miller said.

He said outgoing president Robert Craven had successfully focused on professional development and education, establishing and delivering strata management training programs.

With those now bedded down, the SCA could move on to consider broader matters.

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Totally agree Margaret. We’re in a small unit complex and often wonder what value we get for our $500 per quarter which apparently is cheap! I know our agent is woefully underpaid but the agency is creaming it. Bloody rort.

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