I seek leave to make a brief explanation before asking the minister representing the Attorney-General a question about strata title management.
The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK: There has been a vast proliferation of construction managed under strata title arrangements across Australia. On the eastern seaboard, numerous horror stories have emerged in the press highlighting disputes over fees, lack of accountability for ongoing maintenance, inadequate sinking funds, coercion and unconscionable conduct by strata managers, and the usual problems between neighbours at exceptionally close range.
The City of Adelaide and some of our suburbs have been experiencing high growth in this area and similar issues are emerging. On 8 September last year the Attorney-General issued a discussion paper entitled Possible Regulation of Body Corporate Managers. Submissions closed on 15 November 2003. I have searched the Justice web site, the government’s centrepiece, its Media Flash page and SA Central to no avail to find any more information. My questions for the Attorney-General are:
1. How many complaints has he received as Minister for Consumer Affairs in relation to strata title in 2003-04?
2. Is there an increasing trend of disputes in strata title arrangements?
3. When will the government report on the submissions in relation to its discussion paper, and what actions does it intend to take arising from the review?
The Hon. P. HOLLOWAY (Minister for Industry and Trade): I will refer those questions to, I think, the Minister for Consumer Affairs. I remind the house that the Hon. Karlene Maywald is the new Minister for Consumer Affairs as well as, incidentally, the Minister for Regional Development—I am no longer that minister—and Small Business. So, I will refer that question to the appropriate minister and bring back a response.
Wednesday 25 May 2005
In reply to Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK(14 September 2004).
The Hon. P. HOLLOWAY: The Attorney-General has received this advice:
1. This question is poorly worded (it does not mention community title the new form established by the last Liberal Government to the exclusion of strata title; nor does it recognise that it is the Attorney-General, not the Minister for Consumer Affairs, who administers the Strata Titles Act and Community Titles Act.).
The Discussion paper (released September, 2003) made it clear that complaints were received by many agencies, including the Office of Consumer and Business Affairs (O.C.B.A.), Land Titles Office (L.T.O.), Legal Services Commission, the Attorney-General and the Real Estate Institute of S.A. (R.E.I.S.A.).
The L.T.O. handles more calls and queries on this topic than any other agency, but it is not necessarily complaints and, if they are, they are not necessarily complaints about strata managers. They may be complaints about the owners of adjacent units, or something the body corporate has done, proposes to do, or is neglecting to do.
Often, the caller is only after some information on his own rights or responsibilities.
In 2003-04 the O.C.B.A. consumer complaints database showed there were seven complaints about strata managers and the Attorney-General received 15 letters of complaint that covered a myriad of disputes that arise from community or strata title living.
2. Yes, which is why it was surprising that the last Liberal Government refused to contemplate reform of the law applying to these disputes.
3. The Government hopes to introduce legislation to Parliament in the next few months that reforms strata and community titles legislation.