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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2000 Week 11 Hansard (30 November) . . Page.. 3481..

MR SMYTH (continuing):

Mr Speaker, the Unit Titles Bill 2000 replaces the existing Unit Titles Act of 1970. After 30 years of operation, this major act dealing with corporate ownership of leases in the territory has been completely overhauled. The government and PALM have, over the past few years, been working with the community and with major stakeholder groups to develop what we believe will be a far more workable and simple system for unit titles administration.

Apart from a minor amendment to the act in 1993, the laws relating to unit title have not been changed significantly since 1975. Operational experience with the legislation over the past few decades has highlighted difficulties and procedural requirements that are out of step with contemporary land ownership and management practices.

This government is fully committed to community consultation, particularly in areas affecting such broad interest groups as unit ownership clearly does. A discussion paper on unit title was released in 1994 for public comment. In addition, following development of a comprehensive proposal for revision of the act, exposure drafts of the bills and regulations were released for community consultation earlier this year.

In February of this year members of the community were invited to attend two public information sessions to discuss the proposed amendments to unit titling in the ACT and to suggest improvements to the process. In particular, the ACT Law Society's property law subcommittee has been involved in discussing the proposed amendments and has made an enormous contribution to the revision of the proposals.

The bill resolves numerous problems and shortcomings in the current act and provides consistency with legislation in other states. In addition, the bill has been drafted in a more user-friendly form and clarifies the duties, functions and powers of owners, corporations, committees and unit owners.

Some of the innovations proposed in this bill include:

dispute resolution mechanisms, such as "deadlock orders" where an owners corporation cannot reach a decision, and the appointment of conciliators to deal with disputes in unit plans involving only a small number of units;

allowing the minor alteration of the internal boundaries of a units plan;

simplification of the procedures for cancellation of a units plan by enabling the owners corporation to apply for cancellation by the Magistrates Court instead of the Supreme Court or, if unanimous agreement between unit holders is reached, by ministerial authority;

requiring owners corporations to prepare a budget and set money aside in a sinking fund for future maintenance and repairs;

providing for the staging of multi-storey unit developments whereas under the existing act this is only permitted for townhouses; and

allowing owners corporations to enforce the articles of their corporation by remedying a breach without having to resort to external resources.

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