Page 3676 - Week 10 - Tuesday, 26 August 2008

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Secondly, the push to narrow the management role to licensed real estate status was viewed as likely to limit competition and lead to the creation of a monopoly of unit title managers by real estate agents. The government did take this concern on board and now allows a manager to be someone who is a member of the corporation and appointed by the owners corporation. Hence a separate and distinct title appears.

However, this needs to be clarified, because a residual concern appears to be that to facilitate the Unit Titles Amendment Bill changes are needed to the Agents Act. Moreover, a brief from ACTPLA refers to the creation of new obligations on owners corporations and managers to be licensed under the Agents Act 2003 and comply with the code of conduct. Uncertainties exist as to how a manager of a body corporate will, in principle, on implementation, be treated.

The new bill mandates the appointment of a chairman to an owners corporation. Current legislation allows a committee rather to delegate responsibilities to its members for certain executive roles. It seems that these roles in the current legislation can change at any time and by consensus or vote. It is argued that the new system provides an unhealthy security of tenure arrangement. We believe that there should be flexibility in the act which is not there at the moment, that is, the option to appoint a chairman and the option to delegate executive positions to certain members.

The new system in its entirety reinforces the following unit title provisions: a general administration fund for day-to-day repairs and maintenance and a sinking fund for all capital works. It is understood that under the Unit Titles Amendment Bill, once passed, general administrative fund moneys will need to be held in a trust account by the newly set up ACT Civil Administrative Tribunal.

The government’s position on this is a concern. At the moment they have pulled back from reaching into the pockets of unit owners and renters. But we know what they want. They indicated here and it was made clear by the minister to unit owners that what they want here is to get their hands on some of this money. They have been forced into an embarrassing backdown on this issue, and we welcome that, but we do not trust them. We do not trust them not to do it.

We see what their real intentions are. Even though they have pulled back from having this in the legislation and while the issue is difficult to ascertain at the moment, ACTPLA have said that they will remove the trust provision for administrative funds and instead will consider implementing a small levy on all ACT unit title owners. Either they will reach in and grab the money and, therefore, the interest at the expense of owners and renters or they will look to implement a levy. We know when that levy might come. That levy will come if they are re-elected.

They have signalled their intention to interfere unreasonably with these moneys and to interfere with unit title owners and, of course, renters because this will be passed on to renters. If the expenses of the owners of units go up as a result of the government reaching into owners’ pockets, that will eventually flow down to rents. All renters will be disadvantaged once the government completes its true agenda. They have already put it on the table. When asked about this, ACTPLA said, “Well, we will look to do a

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