Page 3679 - Week 10 - Tuesday, 26 August 2008
some protection, however, for owners against managers who may be careless or misappropriate the funds. It would also provide a mechanism by which the government could establish funding for a regulatory scheme. It is that aspect which has clearly rung alarm bells—certainly it has rung the alarm bells of the Liberals—and that is, in essence, why I believe it would be better to hold off passing the bill until more dialogue can be conducted.
There are provisions in this bill that are fairly universally supported. I think we are all aware of the issues that surround unit title arrangements in developments. The interests of the developer are not the same as those of owners and so some protection of the eventual owners in the development process is important. I will not go through those provisions in detail as they have been quite well explained by others. Suffice it to say that new owners need to be made aware of any contracts entered into, in effect, on their behalf by the developer. Furthermore, it is reasonable that owners who are participating in the management of their unit corporations are not outmuscled by the developer.
One of the highlights of this legislation in a media sense—and, let us face it; the media has cottoned on—is the amendment which will prevent units corporations from specifically excluding pets, and while owners or tenants may not get permission from their body corporate to keep a pet, such decisions will now have to be made on a case by case basis.
This will result in a great improvement in the quality of life of many people. In fact, an issue that has been raised with me a number of times over the years is that elderly people moving into units because they cannot manage their house and their yard anymore really regret that they cannot have a pet. For some others inevitably there will be compromise. But, on balance, I think this is a step in the right direction given the general community move into medium and high density living.
I also think that the situation of tenants in a unit title property has needed to be considered for some time. I am pleased that the intersection of tenants’ rights and responsibilities and those of owners of the corporation itself has been teased apart a little to ensure that the issues that relate to tenants in unit title habitations are not simply confined to the Residential Tenancies Act. Tenants and owners corporations will be required to have more careful regard for each other, rather than simply hiding behind the absent owner of those particular units.
I am aware that several owners are very strongly concerned about the introduction of tenancy matters into this legislation. There will always be issues about where people believe the balance should lie in relation to landlords and tenants, and I am sure that the government will always be dealing with that balance, but the reality is that tenants are also cohabitants with owners in such situations and it is not possible to push any matters relating to those particular inhabitants into another realm.
The issues that have sprung up around this bill are a combination of a number of factors: the conflicting interests of resident unit owners, investor unit owners, tenants, unit plan managers and property developers. There are quite a lot of players with quite diverse objectives complicated by various misunderstandings and the somewhat