NCAT Strata Adjudications
There are a wide range of disputes which can arise in strata schemes. Most disputes arise between owners. However, there are cases where disputes arise between owners and the owners corporation over lack of maintenance and repair issues, breaches of the scheme’s by-laws such as keeping pets without approval, excessive noise, insufficient floor coverings and parking on common property, dysfunctional executive committees, repairs to ceilings, walls and floors.
When an owner or owners corporation finds itself unable to satisfactorily resolve their dispute with the other party, it may be time to consider the next step.
The first step is to attempt mediation at NSW Fair Trading. Mediation is compulsory, with the exception of applications for the appointment of a compulsory strata managing agent, prior to lodging an application with NCAT.
At mediation you should always try to keep calm. Maintaining a respectful attitude and avoiding emotional reactions can assist the negotiation process and so can keeping an even tone in your voice.
If mediation is unsuccessful or the other party does not attend, you should request a letter from NSW Fair Trading to the effect that mediation was unsuccessful or did not occur (as the case may be). The letter will form part of your Adjudication Application.
The second step is to prepare and lodge an Adjudication Application and submissions with NCAT. NCAT’s filing fee is $78.00. It is important to note that each party bears their own costs of an application. In other words, the successful party cannot seek an order claiming legal costs against the other party.
NCAT will send a letter with a copy of the Adjudication Application to all interested parties inviting them to lodge a written submission in response stating whether they agree or disagree with the Adjudication Application. Following the closure of the submission period, the Adjudication Application, submissions and supporting documents are sent to an Adjudicator who determines the application on the papers. The timeframe for lodging a written submission is generally 1 month.
As an Adjudicator’s decision is made on the papers, the application is decided only on the application documents and submissions filed with the Registry. There is no formal hearing.
An Adjudicator’s orders and the reasons for their decision is made in writing and sent to all parties involved in the matter.
Submissions received are made available for the parties to view up to 3 days before the application and submissions are referred to the Adjudicator for determination. Parties may make an appointment to view the submissions or request a copy of a submission. Given that submissions received after the closing period may or may not be accepted, it is important to get them in on time.
If you are dissatisfied with an Adjudicator’s decision, an appeal against an order dismissing an application must be lodged within 21 days after the order takes effect.
An appeal against any other order must be lodged within 21 days after the order takes effect. The time limit may be extended up to 90 days.
Whilst the process may appear simple, there is a tendency for complex issues to arise. Therefore, it is recommended that you obtain legal advice so that you know that you have put your best case forward the first time.
We can draft and lodge your Adjudication Application and submissions for a fixed fee. If you have any queries, please contact us on (02) 8710 3430.
Please note that the information contained in this article is not legal advice and should not be relied upon. You should obtain legal advice before you take any action or otherwise rely upon the contents of this article.