Frequently asked questions
These FAQs share Landgate’s responses to the most common questions asked by industry and community on WA strata reform.
Please scroll down through this page to find what you’re looking for, as questions are grouped under a wide range of topics.
The following terms are abbreviated in the FAQs:
- The Strata Titles Act 1985, which was amended recently, is written as ‘amended STA’.
- The Strata Titles (General) Regulations 2019 is written as ‘STGR’.
- The State Administrative Tribunal is written as ‘SAT’.
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- What is the difference between a strata company and a strata council?
A strata company is made up of all lot owners in a strata titles scheme. A strata company comes into existence when the scheme is registered with Landgate.
A strata council, sometimes referred to as the council of owners, is a select number of owners who manage the running of the scheme. Scheme by-laws specify the number of council members. If the by-laws in Schedule 1 of the STA apply:
- In schemes of three lots or less, all owners comprise the council.
- In schemes of more than three lots, between three and seven of the owners comprise the council, as determined by the strata company.
For schemes with three lots or more, council members are nominated and voted in at the Annual General Meeting. If there are more nominations to be on the council than there are councillor positions, an election is required.
Please refer to our glossary of terms for definitions of a strata company and strata council.
- Where can I find the updated Guide to Strata Titles?
The Guide to Strata Titles was updated to reflect the amended law and STGR and can be accessed via the strata guides and forms page.
- What are regulations?
The regulations are a type of subsidiary legislation which often provide further detail around how to comply with the provisions of an Act. Failure to comply with regulations may result in financial penalties.
- When did the changes to the STA come into effect?
The amended STA came into effect on 1 May 2020.
- When will the Community Titles Act 2018 come into effect?
Landgate and the Department of Planning, Lands and Heritage are working closely on the development of regulations to support the Community Titles Act 2018 with the aim that they will be completed in 2020-21 so that the Act can come into force.
- Are there new requirements in the amended STA that I will need to comply with? When do these changes come into effect?
There are several new requirements in the amended STA that may apply to you when the amended STA commences. For some of these requirements, transitional provisions have been created to ensure that you will have adequate time to meet them.
Outlined below are the key transitional dates for the amended STA.
- Professional indemnity insurance
- Six-month grace period after commencement
- Strata manager education
- Four years after commencement
- Maintenance plans
- First Annual General Meeting held more than 12 months after commencement
- Consolidated by-laws
- Scheme by-laws will only need to be consolidated when the strata company makes, amends or repeals a by-law.
- Financial year defined by by-laws or standard 30 June adopted
- Five years after commencement
- Strata managers under existing contract
- Six-month grace period after commencement
- If relevant, volunteer agreements are to be in place with any volunteer strata managers
- Six-month grace period after commencement
- National criminal record checks
- Six-month grace period after commencement for a person employed or engaged by a strata manager before the commencement day
Please refer to the amended STA and STGR for further details of each requirement.
- Professional indemnity insurance
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Buyer information and seller disclosure
- Have the seller disclosure forms for strata titles schemes changed?
Yes, a new form called the “Precontractual disclosure statement to the buyer” has been created. This form includes the new form of strata title, leasehold strata, and is available on the Landgate website.
- What additional information must be given to a potential buyer under the new law?
Further to existing requirements, a buyer will need to receive the following additional information from the seller before the buyer signs the contract:
- The amount and due date of contributions that have been determined by the strata company within the previous 12 months.
- If contributions have not been determined, a reasonable estimate of the amount of contributions likely to be payable for the 12 months after settlement.
- The minutes from the most recent Annual General Meeting and any subsequent Extraordinary General Meeting.
- A statement of accounts of the strata company.
- Any debts owing by the owner of the lot to the strata company.
- Whether the lot has the benefit of exclusive use by-laws.
- Information about any termination proposal received by the seller from the strata company.
- Name and address for service of the strata company.
- Scheme notice and, for a leasehold scheme, the strata lease for the lot.
- What are the consequences if this information is not provided?
If the seller fails to give the buyer any item of pre-contractual information, the buyer may avoid the contract at any time up to the settlement date if the buyer has suffered material prejudice (i.e. the buyer would be adversely affected).
If the seller gives the buyer the pre-contractual information after the contract is signed (i.e. later than the seller is required to in accordance with the amended STA), then the buyer may avoid the contract within 15 working days of receiving the late notice of the pre-contractual information if the buyer will suffer material prejudice.
- Who is responsible for providing the buyer with the required information?
It is the seller’s legal obligation to provide this information.
Where the seller has not been able to get minutes of the most recent Annual General Meeting or a statement of accounts, they need to make a statement setting out that either the strata company does not keep minutes/statement of accounts or the seller has been unable to get them, and confirm the reason for not providing this information. For example, two-lot schemes are not required to hold an Annual General Meeting or keep minutes, so the seller can make a statement that this is the case.
The cost of retrieving this information is at the seller’s expense.
- As a seller, where do I source the required information I need to provide to the buyer?
You can request the required information from the strata company. In most cases the strata council or strata manager will supply the information on behalf of the strata company. If any documents from Landgate records are required, these can be purchased using the Landgate Land Enquiry Services platform or by contacting Landgate Customer Service.
- As a buyer, what if the seller doesn’t want to share this information – could they refuse?
The seller is legally obliged to provide relevant information before the buyer signs the contract and is obliged to provide any notifiable variations.
The buyer has rights to avoid the contract if the seller does not provide the information.
- As a buyer, can I request the seller provides me with information about the strata company that is not included in the legal requirements (e.g. strata council meeting minutes or the 10 year plan)?
You can make the request – however, the seller is not obliged to provide additional information.
The seller’s legal obligations are to provide the pre-contractual information and notifiable variations. As the buyer under a contract for the sale and purchase of a lot, you can request via written application to inspect information that the strata company is required to keep by law and you may take extracts from or make a copy of information by photographing it.
The strata company is not legally obliged to provide you with copies of information requested. If the strata company agrees to provide copies to you it may charge you a fee in accordance with the fees set out in Part 12 of the STGR.
- If there is a change to the financial position before settlement, like an unexpected cost is incurred by the strata company that is not budgeted for, how will amendments to the STA protect me as a buyer?
If a type one or type two notifiable variation occurs after a buyer signs a contract for the sale and purchase of a lot, the seller must inform the buyer in writing of the particulars. If the seller becomes aware of the notifiable variation less than 15 working days before the settlement date, they must inform the buyer as soon as practicable and in any other case, no later than 10 working days after the seller becomes aware of the notifiable variation.
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Real estate agents and conveyancers
- How should a seller of a three to five lot scheme, complete Part B of the precontractual disclosure statement to the buyer if the strata company does not keep minutes or accounts and does not have a by-law in place that exempts them from doing so?
The key intention of the disclosure is to capture whether there are minutes or statements of account and if so, to provide them.
If a scheme of this size does not take minutes or keep statements of account, they will need to choose the appropriate option (under Part B / Scheme Information / ‘Minutes’ and/or ‘Statements of Accounts’) and provide a supporting statement within each section, under ‘Additional comments'.
It would be acceptable to make a statement such as:
“Under section 140 of the Strata Titles Act 1985, two to five lot schemes may be exempted from the requirement to take minutes or keep accounting records or statements of account. This scheme does not take minutes or keep statements of account.”
- If a three to five lot scheme does not keep minutes or accounts and the strata company does not have a by-law in place that exempts them from doing so, will the seller or potential buyer be liable for a fine?
The seller or potential buyer will not be liable for a fine if these requirements are not in place.
- For two to five lot schemes that have joint costs (i.e. insurance or gardening), do these costs need to be disclosed under Part B of the precontractual disclosure statement to the buyer?
To enable potential buyers to understand and budget for any ongoing scheme costs, all levies and shared costs must be disclosed. If there is not a regular strata levy issued, then these joint costs can be included under the ‘Other Levy’ heading.
- What happens if the precontractual disclosure statement is not filled out properly?
The precontractual disclosure statement is filled in by the seller or the seller’s agent, and given to the buyer. It is not reviewed by Landgate or any other government entity. If it is not filled out properly, whether or not this has any impact depends on subsequent events.
If the sale proceeds smoothly and the buyer is comfortable with their new purchase, the disclosure statement not being filled in correctly won’t have any impact.
However, if the form did not disclose or include information that it should have and the buyer becomes aware of this information before settlement, the buyer may be able to avoid the contract or delay settlement if they can prove they were materially prejudiced by this information. However, these protections only apply before settlement. If the buyer realises after settlement that the form was incorrectly filled in, they can’t get out of the sale because they are already the owner of the lot.
The owner should seek legal advice on any remedies available to them under contract or consumer laws.
- What is material prejudice?
There isn’t a simple definition of material prejudice because it depends on the buyer’s particular circumstances. The buyer is responsible for establishing that they have suffered material prejudice. For example, assume that the minutes of the annual general meeting were not provided in the precontractual disclosure statement. For the buyer to argue material prejudice, they have to have been materially and adversely affected by the information not disclosed. This could be argued if the minutes showed a big upcoming expense, for example. But if the minutes showed nothing concerning, it would be difficult for the buyer to argue material prejudice.
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- What are the improvements to building maintenance?
The reforms will require a 10 year plan, plus a reserve fund for schemes of 10 lots or more, or with a replacement value of $5 million.
The amended STA does not specify how much money needs to be held in a reserve fund.
The 10 year plan must set out:
- The maintenance, repairs and renewal or replacement of common property in the scheme and the personal property of the strata company likely to be needed over the next ten years. (For example, it could be expected that repairs will likely be needed to common property such as stairwells, elevators or swimming pools).
- The estimated cost for the maintenance, repairs and renewal or replacement.
The 10 year plan must be revised at least every five years and when revised, it must cover the next 10 years.
- Is it compulsory to develop a 10 year plan and will Landgate be checking?
Under the amended STA a strata company has a general duty to:
- Control and manage the common property for the benefit of all lot owners.
- Keep the common property in good and serviceable repair.
- Properly maintain, renew or replace the common property where necessary.
The addition of the 10 year plan and reserve fund is a tool to assist the strata company to fulfil this general duty. It is the responsibility of lot owners to hold the strata company accountable as to whether they are meeting the requirements set out under the amended STA.
Landgate will not be monitoring whether a scheme requiring a 10 year plan has one. However, if a 10 year plan is required, but not created, a strata owner could make an application to SAT to resolve a scheme dispute. This would be on the basis that the strata company has failed to perform a function they were supposed to perform. The STGR sets out the requirements for the 10 year plan, which includes that the strata company makes a list of elements of the common property that are anticipated to require maintenance, repair, renewal or replacement in a 10 year period. This knowledge will assist owners when they are considering how much the reserve fund should contain, and how much it should have established over time.
- Will Landgate be developing a template that strata companies can use to create their 10 year plan?
As all strata schemes are different, the items required to be covered by the 10 year plan will vary from scheme to scheme. Landgate will not be developing a template for the 10 year plan. Regulation 77 in the STGR sets out what a strata company must include in the 10 year plan.
- Should the 10 year plan be prepared by a professional or a working group?
There is no requirement to engage a specifically qualified individual or company to do this. The strata company needs to decide on who is to complete the 10 year plan.
- How are levies determined and are they capped?
It is the duty of the strata company to establish a fund for the administrative expenses related to the control and management of the scheme. A strata company for a scheme of 10 or more lots or having a replacement value of $5 million must also have a reserve fund for the purpose of accumulating funds to meet contingent expenses and other major expenses likely to arise in the future. (For example, the replacement of lifts or maintenance to stairwells).
The strata company must determine the amounts to be raised for payment into the funds by levying contributions on lot owners in proportion to the unit entitlement of the owner’s lot unless the scheme by-laws provide for a different basis for levying contributions.
The fund expenses and levy contributions must be passed by an ordinary resolution at a general meeting of the strata company, unless the scheme by-laws empower the strata council to exercise the above functions.
It is the duty of the strata company to determine what amount is needed for the proper running of their scheme. The Government does not have the power to cap these levies – however, if a strata owner is concerned that levies are too high, they can always make an application to SAT.
Refer to Section 100 of the amended STA for more information.
- How is the amount required in the reserve fund determined?
The 10 year plan will help the strata company determine the amount the reserve fund should hold. Included in the plan is an estimate of when certain works will need to be undertaken and the likely costs. Using these figures, the strata company can estimate how much should be progressively saved into the reserve fund.
- Is there a minimum amount required to be held in the reserve fund?
The amended STA and STGR have not set a minimum amount to be held in the reserve fund. It is the responsibility of the strata company to assess the needs of the scheme and properly fund them.
- How does the amended STA deal with building defects in strata?
The amended STA and STGR specify that:
- Scheme developers who retain ownership of lot(s) cannot vote on building defects for a period of 10 years from completion of the building or infrastructure on common property.
- Scheme developers provide the strata company with any key documents relating to a building defect or possible defect.
- The strata company is subrogated to all the rights and remedies of the scheme developer in respect of building defects.
- What approvals are required to install solar panels on common property?
The level of vote required to approve the installation of solar panels and sustainability infrastructure on common property is an ordinary resolution of the strata company.
- How does the amended STA make it easier to provide disability access to lots and the common property?
The strata company will be able to improve common property (for example, to provide for disability access) subject to special resolution of the strata company if the expenditure exceeds the number of lots in the scheme multiplied by $500.
Where owners want to alter their lot to improve disability access and another owner objects, the requesting owner can apply to SAT for an order exempting the alteration or improvement from the requirements for approval by the strata company.
It’s important to note that the strata company has an obligation to make decisions which are not unreasonable, unfair or discriminatory, and SAT can overturn resolutions or decisions of the strata company that fail to meet these criteria.
- Why does the amended STA increase minimum public liability insurance?
In Western Australia, many strata insurance companies do not offer public liability cover for less than $10 million and most managed schemes already have at least $20 million cover. Additionally, $5 million is no longer considered sufficient to cover potential liabilities in the case of damage, injury or death claims. As a result, we have increased the minimum liability insurance from $5 million to $10 million.
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- Is there a requirement to have a strata manager?
The amended STA does not require a strata company to employ a strata manager. It is at the strata company’s discretion.
- What is the difference between a professional strata manager and a volunteer strata manager?
A professional strata manager is engaged by the strata company under a strata management contract to take on specified duties and powers of the strata company for a fee. Section 143 of the amended STA sets out the authorisation of functions of a strata manager.
By contrast, a volunteer strata manager is a strata manager of a company who:
- Is the owner of a lot in the strata titles scheme.
- Does not receive any fee, reward or benefit for work performed as a strata manager (other than an honorary fee or reward not exceeding the amount fixed by the STGR).
- Personally performs the work of the strata manager.
As a result of feedback received during public consultation, the amount of the honorary fee or reward that a volunteer strata manager is entitled to receive has been increased from $80 per calendar year for each lot in the scheme to $250 per calendar year for each lot in the scheme.
- Will Landgate be developing a template for a volunteer strata management contract?
Landgate will not be developing a template for a volunteer strata management contract. Section 145 of the amended STA sets out the minimum requirements of a strata management contract that you may wish to use as a guide.
- What will the educational qualifications for strata managers be?
The requirements set out in Schedule 4 of the STGR confirm that:
- The principal of a strata management business who is not a qualified person, will need to hold a Certificate IV in Strata Community Management.
- 'Qualified persons’ (defined as local legal practitioners, people who hold Certificate IV in closely related fields or who are real estate agents) have to complete additional units. The principal of a strata management business who is a qualified person must hold two units specified in the STGR in Certificate 1V in Strata Community Management, and at least two other units specified in the STGR in Certificate IV Strata Community Management.
- A ‘designated person’ being an individual who is an agent, employee or contractor of the strata manager (who is not a qualified person or lower level admin staff) must have completed two units specified in the STGR in Certificate IV in Strata Community Management and at least six other units in Certificate 1V in Strata Community Management from a list specified in the STGR.
- A ‘designated person’ who is a qualified person must have completed two units from Certificate IV in Strata Community Management specified in the STGR and at least one unit in Certificate 1V in Strata Community Management from a list specified in the STGR.
Please note: these provisions do not apply to volunteer strata managers.
- How much time will strata managers and their agents, employees and contractors have to meet the educational qualifications?
Strata managers and their employees, agents and contractors will have until 1 May 2024, four years after the commencement of amended STA, to meet the educational qualifications. This is known as the transitional period.
- What happens if strata managers don’t have the required educational qualifications after the transitional period?
A strata manager who has not met the educational qualifications set out in the STGR has breached their duties under the amended STA, which is grounds for the strata company to terminate the strata management contract.
- Will strata managers be required to be licensed?
WA Parliament considered the introduction of a licensing regime for strata managers but there were concerns this could result in costs being passed on to consumers. A licensing regime is usually funded by the industry itself - such as by licensing fees paid for by strata managers.
The viability of a licensing regime is dependent on how many strata managers are operating, which there is currently limited information on in Western Australia. There is concern that if there is only a small number of strata managers, the cost of licensing strata managers could be quite high, and these costs would likely be passed on to strata owners. The management framework within the amended STA seeks to strike a balance between protecting owners and strata companies and preventing burdensome costs on consumers.
To determine if licensing is viable or required at a later stage, strata managers will be required to lodge a periodic return at Landgate in an approved form, containing aggregated information about strata schemes managed.
- Does the strata company have a statutory right to terminate the strata management contract if the strata manager breaches statutory duties or the contract?
Yes, a strata company will have a statutory right to:
- Terminate the strata management contract by giving written notice if the strata manager breaches the statutory duties or the contract.
- Seek an order from SAT for damages against the strata manager if the breach of the statutory duties or breach of the contract causes the strata company to suffer a financial loss.
- Apply for an order from SAT for the strata manager to pay a commission to the strata company that the strata manager has failed to disclose.
- How do you terminate the strata management contract between a strata manager and the strata company?
Section 151 of the amended STA provides for how and on what grounds a strata management contract can be terminated. If the strata company is satisfied there are proper grounds for termination, it may terminate the contract by giving the strata manager written notice of termination and informing the strata manager of the right to apply to SAT for review of the decision to terminate the contract.
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- How do I find out which by-laws exist for my scheme currently?
If the strata company makes, amends or repeals a by-law it must apply to register the change in by-laws with the Registrar of Titles at Landgate. You can use Landgate’s Land Enquiry Services platform to search registered by-laws under your scheme.
If a by-law is not registered with the Registrar of Titles within three months of voting by the strata company, it is not valid and as a result is unenforceable. If there are no by-laws registered with the Registrar of Titles, your scheme will be taken to be operating under the standard by-laws set out in Schedule 1 (governance) and Schedule 2 (conduct) of the amended STA.
- Which by-laws are in the amended STA?
Under the reforms, several Schedule 1, or governance by-laws, have been moved into the body of the amended STA and are no longer ‘by-laws’ but ordinary law. This means they cannot be amended or repealed by the strata company. In addition, some other by-laws have been deleted or moved from Schedule 1 to Schedule 2. If a strata company wants to know which by-laws apply to their scheme, they should look at the amended STA and check their scheme’s registered by-laws.
- Does our strata company need to do anything if we have the standard by-laws?
The by-laws that apply at commencement of the amended STA, will continue to be in force as scheme by-laws and automatically classified as governance or conduct by-laws (except for by-laws that are repealed under the amendments). For example, a Schedule 2 by-law that is currently in force for a scheme but would be classified as a governance by-law if it were made after the amended STA takes effect, will automatically be classified as a governance by-law without the strata company having to do anything. This means it can be amended or repealed as a governance by-law (that is, by resolution without dissent).
- What do I do if my strata company has by-laws other than the standard by-laws?
Under the transitional provisions of the amended STA, by-laws that are in force at commencement of the amended STA (except for those that are repealed under the amendments), will continue to be in force as scheme by-laws and automatically classified as governance or conduct by-laws.
For example, a Schedule 2 by-law that is currently in force for a scheme but would be classified as a governance by-law if it were made after the amended STA takes effect, will automatically be classified as a governance by-law without the strata company having to do anything. This means it can be amended or repealed as a governance by-law (that is, by resolution without dissent).
- As a strata company, should we review our scheme by-laws?
That depends. If your scheme operates under the by-laws in Schedule 1 and 2 of the amended STA, it does not need to do anything else. However, even if this is the case, it is best for strata schemes to understand the changes to the by-laws that have been brought about by the reforms, because many changes were made to the by-laws.
For example, provisions in Schedule 1 of the standard by-laws relating to general meetings and voting have been moved into the amended STA which means they can no longer be amended by a strata company. Some duties of owners and occupiers that were in Schedule 1 are now in Schedule 2.
Schedule 2 by-law 5 concerning children playing upon common property has been repealed.
The amended STA has also introduced a classification of by-laws as governance by-laws or conduct by-laws. The by-laws in Schedule 1 are classified as governance by-laws and the by-laws in Schedule 2 are classified as conduct by-laws. You should become familiar with the new classifications for by-laws set out in Section 3 of the amended STA as this determines what vote is needed to make, amend or repeal by-laws. If it’s a governance by-law a resolution without dissent is required. If it’s a conduct by-law a special resolution is required.
The schemes which must review their by-laws are those that wish to register a new by-law, or amend or repeal an existing by-law. As part of this process, a consolidated set of scheme by-laws will need to be provided as part of the application to the Registrar of Titles at Landgate. Preparing the consolidated by-laws means that the by-laws must be reviewed.
Schemes which are not amending their by-laws can still choose to review and consolidate them, if they wish.
If your scheme has operated under a management statement or has registered by-laws other than the by-laws in Schedule 1 and 2 of the amended STA, it is recommended that the strata company review their by-laws so they are classified appropriately and amended and repealed in accordance with the appropriate resolution. This will ensure that the by-laws are transparent for owners and buyers.
For more information on by-laws and consolidating by-laws please refer to our guide to strata titles, guide on consolidating by-laws or video on consolidating by-laws available under the support and resources page.
For more information on by-laws in general please refer to the guide to strata titles.
- Is there a guide on how to consolidate by-laws?
Yes, a step by step guide on how to consolidate by-laws is available on the Landgate website and via the strata guides and forms page.
- How do we know if a by-law is discriminatory?
You have to consider how the by-law operates having regard to the interests of all lot owners in the scheme – does it operate unfairly against one or more owners?
If in doubt seek independent legal advice on whether the by-law is discriminatory.
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Dispute resolution and the State Administrative Tribunal (SAT)
- How will the strata reforms simplify dispute resolution?
Dispute resolution will be simplified by:
- Making SAT the one-stop-shop for strata disputes.
- Strengthening SAT’s powers to efficiently resolve strata disputes.
- Why were SAT’s powers expanded to resolve strata disputes?
SAT is an independent body that makes and reviews a range of administrative decisions. SAT’s approach is informal, flexible and transparent. It is not a court, therefore strict rules of evidence do not apply. SAT encourages the resolution of disputes through mediation and allows parties to represent themselves or be represented by a lawyer or person with relevant experience.
- What additional powers does SAT have to resolve strata disputes?
SAT has been given the jurisdiction to resolve strata disputes arising from the performance or failure to perform a function conferred or imposed on a person under the amended STA.
Additional powers allow SAT to:
- Resolve disputes between the strata company and strata manager.
- Resolve disputes between the buyer and seller concerning the seller disclosure requirements.
- Order a scheme developer or strata manager to pay commission to the strata company for failing to disclose that information.
- Make monetary orders of more than $1,000.
- Resolve a matter without the need for a certificate; relating to scheme dispute resolution procedures (Section 77B of the STA has been repealed).
- Resolve disputes in relation to any type of resolution.
- Award a penalty of up to $2,000 for breach of by-laws.
- How much will it cost me to take a strata dispute to SAT?
There is an application fee to take a strata titles scheme dispute to SAT. An additional hearing fee may also apply.
Visit the SAT website for further information where you can initiate a SAT application and see the associated fees.
- How long does it take to navigate through the SAT process?
We are unable to provide an exact amount of time that it will take for your matter to navigate through the SAT process. It is always SAT’s intention to resolve matters as quickly as possible.
Once SAT accepts your application all parties named in the application will be notified of the next step. This might be:
- A decision based on the existing documents, without a hearing required.
- A directions hearing to decide how to move forward.
- A final hearing to hear the parties’ arguments.
A directions hearing is usually held within a short time of the application being received. At the directions hearing, the matter may be scheduled for another directions hearing, a mediation, a compulsory conference or a final hearing. Further information can be found on the SAT website.
- Will I need to engage a lawyer if I take a dispute to SAT?
You do not have to engage a lawyer and can choose to represent yourself or be represented by another relevant person subject to provisions of the State Administrative Tribunal Act 2004. SAT assists parties who represent themselves. Further information regarding representation can be found on the SAT website.
- What if I live in regional WA and need to apply to SAT?
All applicants to SAT can obtain application forms through the SAT website or by contacting SAT. Telephone and video conferencing facilities may be available by arrangement for people who cannot attend a hearing in person. SAT can also visit regional areas to conduct hearings when appropriate. Further information can be found on the SAT website.
- Can I appeal a decision made by SAT?
Yes, but only if you are given ‘leave to appeal’ by the relevant court. This is the Supreme Court for most SAT matters. However, if the decision you are appealing was made by a judicial member or the members included a judicial member, it is the Court of Appeal of the Supreme Court.
Further information regarding decisions made by SAT can be found on the SAT website.
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A fairer process for scheme termination
- If my scheme is terminated, what does it mean for me?
Possible outcomes for an owner in a terminating strata titles scheme are that they receive:
- Market value for their property.
- Market value plus a consideration for hardship or expenses caused by the move.
- A like-for-like property.
- Another property plus an amount of money for extra expenses, such as moving costs.
- A developer has approached our strata to re-develop, but I can’t afford a lawyer and I’m not sure I want to sell. What should I do?
If your strata company has been approached with re-development proposals, there are several things you should consider doing:
- Carefully consider all the information you receive about the outline termination proposal and any full termination proposal.
- Attend the presentation given by the independent advocate on the review of the full termination proposal.
- Attend meetings of the strata company convened to discuss the proposal.
- Take advantage of funding available to you to obtain advice on the proposal.
- If you vote against the proposal, consider if you need representation if the proposal proceeds to review by SAT, as well as the availability of funding for representation at SAT.
- Is the voting percentage based on lots or unit entitlement?
The vote on an outline termination proposal is an ordinary resolution based on unit entitlement or lot numbers (refer to Section 122(1)(c) and 123(7)(b) of the amended STA). The vote on a full termination proposal is based on lot numbers not unit entitlement.
- I’m in a scheme of less than five lots. Does the majority termination process apply?
No. A unanimous vote of the owners will be required to terminate the scheme.
- All owners have voted unanimously in favour of the termination proposal, what’s next?
If the vote to terminate is unanimous there is no need for a review by SAT. The proponent can apply to the Western Australian Planning Commission to endorse the plan of survey required to register the termination and then apply to the Registrar of Titles at Landgate to terminate the scheme. If the plan of survey is not endorsed, the termination proposal comes to an end.
- I don’t want my scheme to be terminated, what do I do?
If you do not want the scheme to be terminated, you can:
- Vote against the outline termination proposal and against the full termination proposal.
- Attend meetings of the strata company to voice your objections to termination.
- Make submissions against the full termination proposal to the proponent and strata company.
- Represent yourself or be legally represented in SAT proceedings to review a vote in favour of termination by owners of at least 80% of lots in the scheme.
- Who is the independent advocate and what do they do?
The independent advocate is someone who will aid lot owners to help them understand the termination proposal. They can be a local legal practitioner or person who provides social services – as set out in the Children and Community Services Act 2004 and who holds a degree from an Australian university that is relevant to the provision of those social services.
They will support the lot owners by:
- Reviewing the full proposal and making an assessment which they will present to all the lot owners.
- Identifying any vulnerable owners and advising them of their entitlement to funding. If vulnerable owners request assistance, the independent advocate may refer them to providers of advice or representation and help them to obtain the benefits they’re entitled to.
For further information refer to Section 178A of the amended STA and Part 15, Division 3 of the STGR.
- What support do owners receive?
All owners will have access to funds to respond to the termination proposal. The proponent must provide funding to all owners in the scheme to pay for advisory services such as:
- Legal advice on the termination proposal.
- Expert reports including obtaining a valuation report for their lot.
- Expert advice on the taxation and financial implications of the termination proposals.
Regulation 135 in the STGR specifies:
- What amount needs to be set aside for every owner.
- What the owner can use that money for.
Owners who vote against the termination proposal can receive an amount for representation in SAT in accordance with the amount specified in the STGR.
Vulnerable owners will also receive additional protections.
- Who is a vulnerable owner?
The STGR define a vulnerable owner as someone who has a diminished capacity to understand, cope with or respond to the termination proposal process.
The independent advocate who is appointed by the strata company has the task of determining who is a vulnerable owner. An owner who has not been included in the vulnerable category, but considers they should be, can apply to the proponent to be recognised as vulnerable.
- What protections are vulnerable owners going to get?
The person seeking to terminate a strata titles scheme must provide funding to vulnerable owners to respond to the proposal. Vulnerable owners can then use that funding to:
- Pay for legal advice on the termination proposal.
- Pay for expert reports including obtaining a valuation report for their lot.
- Pay for expert advice on the taxation and financial implications for them if the scheme is terminated.
- Obtain ancillary services they may need.
Vulnerable owners who vote against the termination resolution can also receive funding for representation in SAT and ancillary services to assist with that process. This is available if the proponent applies for confirmation of the termination process.
Regulation 135 in the STGR specifies:
- What amount needs to be set aside for each vulnerable owner.
- What the vulnerable owner can use that money for.
- Is it possible to stop developers / proponents contacting a strata company with termination proposals?
A strata company may, by ordinary resolution, prohibit termination proposals being submitted to it for a period of up to 12 months (as outlined in Section 174(2) of the amended STA). Alternatively, the strata company could also make a request through SAT to halt all termination proposals from being presented to the strata company for a specified period of time.
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Introducing leasehold strata
- Why introduce leasehold strata title?
To provide more affordable housing and development options in Western Australia. Three key uses for leasehold strata are to:
- Create more affordable housing options.
- Support strategic site development, such as around train stations and major transport corridors. Leasehold allows the State to develop freehold land and still retain long term control of these strategic sites.
- Give options to parties who cannot sell their land to develop it. For example, churches may be bequeathed land that they cannot then sell. Leasehold strata gives them an option to develop the land without selling it.
- What’s the difference between a long-term lease and leasehold strata?
Leasehold strata give people the chance to buy a leasehold strata/survey-strata lot in a scheme for between 20 and 99 years, which they can sell, mortgage and even bequeath in their will.
Leasehold schemes have been developed to ensure the owners of the lots in the scheme (lessees under the strata leases) have very clear statutory rights and protections that are much higher than a lessee under an ordinary lease. The power of the lessor has been limited to protect the lot owner’s rights.
- Where else in the world is leasehold strata used?
New South Wales, Singapore, the United Kingdom, and British Columbia have different models of leasehold strata.
- When I buy a leasehold strata unit will I get a certificate of title?
The Registrar of Titles at Landgate will create a certificate of title for leasehold strata/survey-strata lots clearly showing that the property subject to that title is leasehold strata and the expiry day for the scheme. No duplicates will be issued.
- Will the bank give me a mortgage to buy a leasehold strata lot?
This is up to the individual bank but the fact that it is a leasehold strata/survey-strata lot should not prevent the property being mortgaged.
- Can you sub-lease a lot in a leasehold scheme?
Yes, in certain circumstances the consent of the owner of the leasehold scheme (lessor) is required to a sub-lease, mortgage or transfer of the lot.
- What happens on expiry of a leasehold scheme?
On the expiry day for a leasehold scheme the scheme, lots and strata leases cease to exist. The owner of the leasehold scheme (lessor) regains full ownership of the land and buildings. The leasehold scheme is terminated and all the lots cease to exist.
- Can the expiry day of the scheme be extended and how?
The expiry day for a leasehold scheme can only be postponed if the scheme has leasehold by-laws that provide for postponement of the expiry day of the scheme. These are classified as governance by-laws under the amended STA and can only be created with the written consent of the owner of the leasehold scheme. If these by-laws are in place, a resolution without dissent of the strata company must be obtained to extend the expiry of the scheme, and it cannot be extended to a day more than 99 years after registration of the scheme.
Approval by the Western Australian Planning Commission is also required to make, amend or repeal leasehold by-laws that provide for postponement of the expiry day. As soon as practicable after passing the resolution to extend the expiry day, the strata company must serve notice on the owner of the leasehold scheme (using an approved form) and apply to the Registrar of Titles at Landgate for registration of an amendment of the scheme notice to give effect to the postponement.
- How involved will my lessor be in my leasehold strata/survey-strata lot?
You will need the lessor’s consent to:
- Carry out any structural alterations, erections or extensions on your leasehold lot.
- Amend the scheme by way of subdivision (for example, re-subdivision or consolidation of lots or common property).
The lessor will not be involved in:
- The management of the leasehold scheme – for example, building maintenance. These duties will pass to the strata company.
- Transfer (sale) of the leasehold lot.
- Payment of rates and land tax. The obligation is on the owner of the leasehold lot to pay these while the leasehold scheme exists.
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Development, subdivision and planning
- Why is a management statement no longer required?
Previously if a developer intended to create a scheme by successive stages, the details would be set out in a management statement and lodged for registration with the scheme plan. Details of staged development will now be set out in the scheme by-laws and are called staged subdivision by-laws.
- What if the next stage of the subdivision is going to be different from what I was told?
If a stage of the development is the same as what was originally proposed, the developer can simply build it without getting permission from lot owners who bought into the first stage, or interest holders (such as banks).
The STA has always set out that small changes from what was originally proposed can be made to the stage of development. But if larger changes, known as ‘non-minor amendments’, were proposed for the next stage, then the developer would have to get consents from all the people who had bought into an earlier stage, plus all of the designated interest holders.
Under the reforms, ‘non-minor amendments’ are now called ‘significant variations’. The definition of what is considered a significant variation is set out in the STGR. If there is a significant variation, for the stage to go ahead as proposed, a unanimous resolution of the strata company will be needed, as well as the consent of designated interest holders, for registration of the subdivision. But one change with the reforms to this area is that designated interest holders can be taken to have given consent if they do not actively respond to notice given to them.
- If sold under a leasehold strata, what are the rights for owners and designated interest holders in staged developments?
The rights for lot owners and designated interest holders in the staged development are the same as for a freehold strata titles scheme.
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- Are there any new duties for strata developers?
Developers must disclose any remuneration or other benefits they earn from contracts, leases and licences that will bind the strata company or members (owners of lots) in the strata company. They must also disclose details of any direct or indirect pecuniary interest they have in any such contract, lease or licence. This is in addition to the duty to hand over key documents at the first Annual General Meeting of the strata company.
- What are the implications if strata developers breach their duties?
If these duties are not met, SAT can order the developer to pay to the strata company:
- Money to enable it to acquire any missing key documents.
- Any commission the developer receives which isn’t disclosed.
- What restrictions are imposed on the developer awarding contracts to itself?
Under the reforms, the following restrictions are in place to control developers awarding contracts to itself:
- A developer must disclose commission from service contracts.
- SAT can order the developer to pay commission to the strata company.
- SAT has power to order termination of service contracts.
- Strata company has statutory right to terminate service contract after five years.
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Strata forms and guides
- Where can I find the new strata forms?
Approved forms to be used for strata title matters in Western Australia can be found on Landgate’s website via the strata forms page. These forms reflect the amendments to the Strata Titles Act 1985 that have been in effect since 1 May 2020.
- Where can I find guidance on using the new strata forms?
For guidance on which of the form/s to use and in what circumstances, customers should refer to Landgate’s:
- How can I provide feedback on the new strata forms or guides?
Customer feedback on Landgate’s forms and guides is welcome via Landgate’s feedback form.