Strata schemes are steadily becoming the premier form of property ownership in Australia today. Since their inception upon signing the Conveyancing (Strata Titles) Act in 1961, strata have only continued to grow, both in size and popularity. As a result, modern strata may tend to like like completely different entities. This dissimilarity is no more evident than in the complexity of strata structures throughout the country.
As a result of the changing nature of strata schemes, new methods had to be devised to ensure that they run efficiently. This need then gave rise to the establishment of a whole new industry. Now, there are professionals whose sole focus is the management of strata and body corporates. Their roles range from the lesser-known searches, through important lawyers, and all the way up to prominent strata managers.
Despite the prominence of the networks that support strata operation, they had no formal recognition as a professional industry until recently. However, on the 1st of July 2021, 60 years to the day since Parliament signed the strata titles legislation into law, the NSW Strata Community Association (SCA) secured crucial acknowledgment that the strata industry has to be recognized as such.
This action was triggered by the establishment of a Professional Standards Scheme (PSS) for strata in NSW. This scheme is a legal instrument that compels every occupational association registered into it to monitor, enforce and, where required, improve the professional standards of their members. Such a comprehensive mandate is put in place to ensure that consumers of members’ professional services have adequate protection.
Therefore, Professional Standards Australia will now be responsible for monitoring all active members of the SCA NSW. Any evaluations of the relevant strata management business will be based on their adherence to the providence of high-quality professional services and a Code of Ethics.
What significance does this hold for owners?
With an oversight body in place to supervise the provision of strata services, strata businesses become legally bound to their PSS. Consequently, body corporate members are now likely to observe a range of benefits including:
- Better consumer protection with SCA (NSW) taking charge where it will also self-regulate its members’ conduct based on professional guidelines that are already in place.
- Increased Continual Professional Development (CPD) requirements for Strata Community Managers and Licensees in Charge. CPD is a matrix that tracks the education programs professionals engage in while they enhance their skills. Therefore, strata managers will allway be knowledgeable and aware of their responsibilities to owners.
- A more independent and streamlined complaint handling process, where the company’s methods are eschewed for an unaffiliated alternative developed by SCA NSW. This difference will keep all reviews and responses independent.
These changes have been well received on the whole. Industry professionals, in particular, believe that these adjustments have been a long time coming. As a result, they are very appreciative. For them, this presents an opportunity to initiate much-needed improvements within the strata industry. Moreover, now that they must adhere to higher professional standards, every member who plays a role in it will gain some advantage. The most prominent benefit will be constant access to the most up-to-date industry information. Even more significantly, owners will gain a marked increase in their confidence in their strata management service providers.
With improved service delivery come more efficient and robust formal complaint channels and their associated disciplinary systems. Therefore, owners who hire a strata manager in NSW will have the means to report any subpar service. Additionally, these standards can assure them that the handling of their grievances will be professional and above-board.
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Finally, owners will not be the only ones to benefit. Strata industry professionals throughout NSW now have an incentive to better their skills and abilities in providing strata services. Furthermore, such heightened competencies will increase customer protections and usher owners into a new age of prosperous strata.