Queensland has cautiously implemented new strata rules it hopes will encourage the development of underutilised sites.
The new body corporate laws introduced by the Queensland government allow for the termination of a community titles scheme with the support of 75 per cent of lot owners.
It is hoped this will open the door for the development of sites previously held up by a small number of owners holding out.
However, the changes came with a caveat—it must be agreed by the body corporate that it is no longer economically viable to continue to maintain or repair the building.
The issue of economic viability must be supported by independent reports.
Suggestions that the rules may be changed after a decade-long battle emerged this year, with the Queensland government taking cues from NSW, which introduced similar rules in 2015.
Director at GV Property Group on the Gold Coast Antonio Mercuri said it was a move in the right direction.
“There’s still a process that’s going to have to occur from an economics standpoint,” he told The Urban Developer.
“These buildings have to have something wrong with them that means they financially couldn’t be sustained, so it’s not a blanket ruling but it will help the buildings that need it—and that’s a great thing,
“No one wants to invest in a legal case but it will help the sites at a point of disrepair and if there is an opportunity on the table it can at least be revisited.
“You don’t want to force people out of their homes but if there is a genuine reason and genuine opportunity then that is something we can look into.”
The amendments also include limits on sunset clauses, which the state government said would better protect Queensland off-the-plan buyers.
Prior to the changes, it said, developers could terminate a sales contract for an off-the-plan land purchase if it was not settled in a specific time period.
Now, a sunset clause can only be invoked by a developer with the written consent of the buyer, under a Supreme Court order, or “another situation prescribed by regulation”.
Other changes introduced prevent body corporates from blanket banning pets, allowing them to prohibit smoking on common property and outdoor balconies, and other procedural issues, such as clarifying the ability for body corporates to tow vehicles.
The Property Council applauded the Queensland government’s decision on terminations, saying it would increase the supply of housing and at the same time respond to the concerns of residents in older apartment buildings.
“The council has advocated for a reduction in Queensland’s unanimous strata termination threshold for more than a decade and it is really the low-hanging fruit in terms of responding to the housing crisis,” PCA Queensland deputy executive director Jess Caire said.
“Other states have embarked on strata reform and Queensland has done so with safeguards and consumer protection provisions that go above and beyond what has been put in place in other jurisdictions.
“The council hopes that the process for terminating a community title scheme is not costly or arduous for owners so additional safe and fit-for-purpose housing supply can be delivered as soon as possible to relieve pressure on our housing market.”