Strata managers should be licensed and an independent regulator should be established to protect the rights of consumers, a leading law firm has urged.
Western Australia’s 30-year-old strata laws are under review and the State Government has released a consultation paper for the Strata Titles Act reform.
In its submission, leading law firm Slater and Gordon stated the reforms must be carefully considered to ensure the right balance between affordability of quality professional strata management services and effective consumer protection.
Commercial lawyer with the firm, Rachel Cosentino – who is also the chair of the Strata Community of Australia (WA) – said strata was an increasingly common form of property ownership, making up more than a third of all titles registered in WA.
“With more and more strata properties registered in this State, the amount of funds held by strata managers has also grown,” she said.
“With that growth has come calls in recent times for strata managers to be licensed to boost professionalism in the industry.
“As a law firm that works with the strata industry and advocates for consumers we believe WA would benefit from a system of licensing, overseen by an independent regulator.
“The regime would require minimum standards of education, good character and trust accounting standards, including sanctions against defaulting strata managers.
“Licensing strata managers is the most appropriate form of regulation and is necessary to ensure effective consumer protection.”
Ms Cosentino said the consultation paper also outlined a possible code of conduct which would require strata managers to act with honesty, fairness and professionalism.
“Among other conditions, the proposed code of conduct would require strata managers to not act fraudulently or engage in misleading conduct; not act with a conflict of duty or interest; and to maintain standards of recording keeping and provision of access to records,” she said.
“We support this proposal, and believe that if appointed, an independent regulator would be well-placed to investigate potential breaches of that code of conduct.”
Landgate consultations closed on January 16 with new laws expected to be drafted and introduced by the end of 2015.