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I recently had the privilege of being featured in an article by the Sydney Morning Herald. The article, accessible here, casts a spotlight on the significant challenges individuals often encounter when dealing with New South Wales Fair Trading. Notably, it addresses the lengthy wait times for strata mediation that occur when disputes arise between owners and owners corporations.

My key motivations for contributing to this article were to advocate for crucial changes to streamline the process for everyone involved and to draw the attention of Parliament. My earnest hope is that the highlighted issues, such as the much-needed reduction in Fair Trading wait times, will prompt swift change.

Additionally, while not mentioned in the SMH article, I am convinced that certain types of strata claims – those seeking orders for rectification of defects in common property and loss of rent claims, for instance – should bypass the requirement of first seeking mediation before being permitted to proceed to the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal (NCAT). This makes sense especially considering that compulsory strata management claims, typically based on breaches of the owners corporation’s duty to maintain and repair common property under section 106 of the Strata Schemes Management Act 2015, do not require mediation. So why should owners have to spend time waiting to mediate with an owners corporation over a similar issue?

While I’m a strong advocate for mediation as an alternative form of resolution, believing in its capacity to avoid the burden of significant legal fees, I recognise the need for balance. Regrettably, some strata mediations are used merely to buy extra time, causing unnecessary delays and resulting in many owners suffering as they cannot proceed to NCAT unless they show evidence of attempted or declined mediation. It’s this imbalance that I hope the article helps to rectify.

I hope that my contribution to this dialogue will instigate much-needed changes, streamlining the process for everyone involved. Furthermore, I hope that this Sydney Morning Herald article gets Parliament’s attention, leading to some prompt changes being made.

Whether you’re a seasoned property owner or contemplating a strata investment, I strongly recommend reading this article. It provides insightful commentary on the challenges we face in our current strata landscape and how we can overcome them.

At Pobi Lawyers, sharing knowledge and advocating for better practices is integral to our mission. We are committed to fostering a deeper understanding of strata law and contributing to the broader dialogue on the improvement of strata law processes.

Written by Michael Pobi, Pobi Lawyers. 

Please note: This is a commentary published by Pobi Lawyers for general informational purposes only. It should not be relied upon as specific legal advice. We recommend obtaining your own legal advice that is specific to your circumstances before taking any action or otherwise relying on the contents of this article. Remember that the content of this article, as well as the law itself, is subject to change.