Resolving Disputes, Occupants of Strata Schemes, or Owners Corporation and an Occupant
The Strata Schemes Management Act 1996 sets out a process for resolving disputes between occupants of strata schemes, or between the owners corporation and an occupant.
Step 1: Mediation
If speaking or writing to each other does not resolve the dispute, apply for mediation (this is required under the Act). Application forms for mediation are available from the Mediation Services Unit of NSW Fair Trading. This service costs $72. You can also use a Community Justice Centre, where mediation is free. An attempt at mediation is required before a dispute can go to a Strata Schemes Adjudicator.
Step 2: Order from an adjudicator If mediation fails
Order from an adjudicator If mediation fails, you can apply to a Strata Schemes Adjudicator for an order. Adjudicators are members of the CTTT. Applications cost $72.
The adjudicator will make a decision based on the written material in your application. There is no hearing – you will receive a written copy of the decision. Decisions of an adjudicator are binding. The adjudicator can rule on disputes such as:
- repairs to common-property ceilings, walls and bathrooms
- water coming through windows and shower floors
- parking on common property without approval
- breaches of by-laws
- alterations to common property
- use of air conditioners
- insufficient floor coverings
- noisy residents.
Step 3: Order by the Consumer Trader and Tenancy Tribunal
If you are unhappy with the adjudicator’s decision, you have 21 days to appeal to the Consumer Trader and Tenancy Tribunal. The Consumer Trader and Tenancy Tribunal can dismiss your appeal if it thinks that the adjudicator made the appropriate order, or it can make a different order.
Applications cost $72. If an order is not followed, the matter may go back to the Consumer Trader and Tenancy Tribunal, which can order a person to pay a fine of up to $5,500. The Consumer Trader and Tenancy Tribunal can also award money to the applicant to cover the legal costs, but will not order compensation for any losses. If you want compensation, get advice from a Community Legal Centre about pursuing it through a court.
You can ask the Registrar of the Consumer Trader and Tenancy Tribunal to waive application fees at any stage of the proceedings, but you will need to show hardship.
Further Information and contacts
- NSW Land & Property Management Authority: phone 1300 052 637, www.lands.nsw.gov.au
- NSW Fair Trading website: www.fairtrading.nsw.gov.au (under ‘Tenants & home owners’ > ‘Strata schemes’)
- Mediation Services Unit (NSW Fair Trading): phone 9338 7900 or free call 1800 451 431 Community Justice Centres: free call 1800 990 777 or TTY 1800 671 964
- Community Legal Centres: phone 9212 7333, www.clcnsw.org.au
Information supplied courtesy of the Tenants Union of NSW
Further information and advice for NSW tenants can be sourced from www.tenants.org.au