JIS News

The increase in strata property development, with the attendant problems, has led to the promulgation of legislation by the Government, to address the issues, support owners and improve the value of the properties.
A regulatory body for the complexes – the Commission of Strata Corporations – has been established, with far reaching powers under the newly amended Registration (Strata Titles) (Amendment) Act.
Strata properties constitute individual ownership of units with shared common areas in a multi-dwelling or business complex.
A report from the Department of Local Government in the Office of the Prime Minister points to growing demand for strata properties, particularly in towns and cities, where land is scarce and expensive, fuelling increased construction of such properties.
The report further states that the growth in strata proprietorship has brought to the fore, certain problems peculiar to strata properties, which must be addressed if this form of ownership is to remain viable. This has led to a decision by the Government to amend existing legislation to create the legal framework necessary to improve the ability of strata corporations to exercise necessary control in critical areas and correct related problems.
Chief Executive Officer of the Real Estate Board and the Commission of Strata Corporations, Sandra Watson, tells JIS News that research has identified non-payment of maintenance fees as one of the major weaknesses of strata corporations.
Others, she notes, include non-appointment of Executive Committees; non-payment of annual insurance coverage; non-compliance with laws that relate to the rights of owners and responsibilities of corporations in the administration of common property plans; and lack of estimates of expenditure for presentation to owners as the basis for maintenance fees.
The amended Act gives the Commission of Strata Corporations the power to monitor, regulate and supervise the functioning of strata corporations; provides for the mandatory registration of each strata corporation with the Commission and the submission of annual financial statements and reports by each strata corporation; provides for the procedure to be followed where a proprietor fails, neglects or refuses to pay contributions to the corporation; and gives the Strata Corporation a power of sale in respect of a strata lot, where a proprietor defaults in the payment of contributions to the corporation.
Mrs. Watson says with more people sharing less space, it has become necessary to ensure that the proper mechanisms are in place to ensure that facilities are well managed, for the health and safety of owners and residents, to reduce conflict and maintain the value of these properties.
“The amended Act came into effect on January 1, 2010 and a prime feature of the amendment is the establishment of the Commission of Strata Corporations, to monitor, regulate and supervise the functioning of strata corporations and to specify the duties and powers of the Commission,” she explains.
“The Commission is now open for business and works with property owners and residents to help strata corporations to function efficiently and effectively in the management of the property and provision of services and facilities; in maintaining proper records and ensuring that owners pay maintenance fees to cover administrative and other communal expenses,” Mrs. Watson adds.
She points out that failure in these areas has led to numerous disputes, which the Commission is now working to reduce.
“The Commission began registering strata plans in May of this year, which should facilitate the smoother running and management of properties, while safeguarding their value. The Commission will also monitor strata corporations, consider complaints from owners or step in when an owner fails to pay contributions,” she tells JIS News.
Mrs. Watson further advises that the Commission will hold Annual General Meetings where the strata corporations are not functioning; and will enable the establishment of a Strata Appeals Tribunal to hear appeals and adjudicate on matters affecting the administration and management of strata properties.
She says that persons who are aggrieved by the decision of the Strata Corporation or the Commission, may appeal to the Tribunal, which may allow the appeal, set aside or vary the decision of the Corporation or Commission. She emphasises that decisions made by the Tribunal are binding, and persons who fail to comply with the decisions can be fined up to $1 million if convicted in a Resident Magistrate’s Court.
“The Commission of Strata Corporations is advising all strata property owners that the registration of every strata plan with the Commission is mandatory, and so all owners are invited to visit the offices of the Commission at 1 Surbiton Road for further information and assistance to protect their properties and safeguard their rights as owners,” Mrs. Watson tells JIS News.

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