Page 2348 - Week 06 - Thursday, 23 June 2011

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difficulty in interpreting and understanding the Unit Titles Act, particularly in regard to the role and functions of the owners corporations and their executive committees.

The bill I am introducing today responds to those concerns by making the law of unit titles easier to read and understand. Unit titles management provisions have been relocated to a separate statute, to be known as the Unit Titles (Management) Act 2011, and reorganised to make the law more user friendly. Provisions concerning registration of units plans are retained in the Unit Titles Act. Having a separate unit title management statute is consistent with the approach taken in other jurisdictions, including New South Wales and Victoria.

Many provisions in the new Unit Titles (Management) Bill have been redrafted consistent with ACT drafting standards, making the provisions easier to read and understand. The substantive content of many provisions is unchanged. Guidance notes are included in the section headings to direct the reader to the corresponding section in the current Unit Titles Act to assist users with the transition to the new bill.

While most of the bill consists of a reorganisation and redrafting of unit title management provisions, some new provisions have been introduced. Key features of the new provisions are removing unnecessary barriers to the adoption of sustainability measures and utility infrastructure, introducing a code of conduct for executive committee members, changing the resolution for annual administrative and special purpose fund budget approval from special to ordinary, which removes an excessive restriction on managing owners corporation funds, clarification of financial provisions to clearly link budgets, contributions and expenditure for each type of fund, providing guidance for the ACAT approval of developer control period contracts and clarification of insurance requirements.

As mentioned earlier, the operational review also considered whether the act should be amended to allow sustainability measures to be incorporated into the units plan. JACS received submissions highlighting the difficulties owners encounter when installing infrastructure for sustainability measures, such as renewable energy generation and the feed-in-tariff arrangements. Currently, an owners corporation would have to pass a series of resolutions in order to install sustainability or utility infrastructure on common property, such as solar panels, a communal clothesline, cabling et cetera. Separate resolutions may be required for financing, siting, easements. I note that owners may face similar hurdles when installing important utility infrastructure such as the national broadband network.

Therefore, a key feature of the bill is the introduction of streamlined procedures for the installation of sustainability and utility infrastructure. Under new section 23, by way of one ordinary resolution, that is, a simple majority, the owners corporation can decide to install sustainability or utility infrastructure on common property after undertaking a cost-benefit analysis of the proposed infrastructure. The new streamlined procedure removes unnecessary barriers to a units plan adopting environmental sustainability measures or utility infrastructure and will encourage the adoption of green initiatives, while ensuring that owners are presented with all the costing and other information required to make an informed decision.

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