Brian Phillips Legal

Boarding Houses in NSW and the Lost Opportunity

The proliferation of boarding houses in the greater Sydney region and the public’s understandable reaction to the onslaught of boarding houses in low density residential areas has been the subject of a discussion paper by the NSW Department of Planning.

Many people may not have been aware the NSW Department of Planning had released for public comment a paper on changes to be considered to boarding houses in NSW. This unawareness arose from the Department’s failure to place the document on its web site.

Submissions to the paper closed on the 18 December 2018.

On the 18 December 2018 I happened to be preparing submissions against a boarding house for a client when I decided to look on the Department’s web site for material that might assist in the preparation of my submissions. I came across a notification that the Department were seeking comments/submissions for boarding houses with a closing date being 18 December 2018! I then visited the page where all documents for public comment were listed. There was no document for ‘boarding houses’ on the web page.

I telephoned the department making inquiries about the ‘boarding house” documents. i was assured they were on the web site. I pointed out they were not. I was advised someone would call me back later to advise on the documents.

I did receive a call sometime in the early afternoon confirming the documents had somehow NOT been posted on the Department’s page, but the problem had been rectified as a result of my contacting the Department.

The Department officer offered no response to my comment that the window for making submissions to the paper was extremely narrow bearing in mind the submissions closed later that day.

Property Strata Titles

Strata Title News

The new Strata Development Act 2015 has received little public notice. The salient feature of the Act permits developers redeveloping existing residential flat buildings (RFB) into another form of development permissible in the zone. More often than not the proposed development takes the form of a new RFB or a mixed development, consisting of commercial and residential use.

The Act allows for a “collective sale” of the whole strata scheme or a “renewal proposal”. The latter is effectively a redevelopment of the strata scheme.

A developer must approach the L&E Court seeking orders for a strata renewal proposal.

The Act prescribes those persons or parties not willing to sell an individual lot or lots do not have to subscribe to a “strata renewal proposal”. Currently, the L&E Court has before it three applications from developers seeking orders for a strata renewal proposal. In all three applications, there are owners of lots who have elected not to sell their lots to the developer.

The Court has paid particular attention to these applications bearing in mind they all employ the relevant sections of the Act and are the first such applications to be made under the Act.

Two very important decisions have been made by the court. First, the Court has recognised that a “dissenting owner”, has a right to be heard in court resulting in the dissenting owner being formally joined as a party to the proceedings. Second, the reasonable cots of the dissenting owner is to be paid by the owners corporation, but the levy imposed by the owners corporation for the legal costs cannot be imposed on the dissenting owner.

Over the past few months there has been a climate of uncertainty and fear among strata owners who have been approached by developers seeking to purchase their lots. The decisions of the Court, in the threes cases, should quell any uncertainty and fears for lot owners who are concerned that their objections will not be heard and considered in cases where they doo not wish to join in a strata renewal process.

Contact Brian Phillips for any further information required.