The timeline below summarises relevant legislative and industry changes affecting strata stakeholders in New South Wales. It includes helpful links and further reading to help you understand NSW legislative changes.
The New South Wales Emergency Services Levy (ESL) is set for a revamp to relieve homeowners from bearing the financial burden of natural disaster insurance. In a commendable move, NSW Labor Premier Chris Minns has announced the abolition of the controversial emergency services levy (ESL) on insurance premiums.
The ESL, included in home insurance policies, currently funds approximately 73.7% of NSW emergency services. This arrangement has led to an average increase of 18% in insurance prices as providers raise their premiums to accommodate the levy.
The consequential result of such a heavy levy is that almost one in five homeowners are opting to risk going uninsured. However, rising premiums and pressure of living costs have left around 17.6% of households without home or contents insurance. The NSW government expressed concern in a statement, highlighting that these households risk significant loss during a natural disaster due to unaffordable premiums, particularly as NSW becomes increasingly susceptible to fires and floods.
The existing model of funding emergencies through levies is no longer sustainable, prompting the government to search for alternative sources to replace the $1.6 billion revenue. While the removal of the ESL will be marketed to voters as cost-of-living relief, it camouflages the urgent need for a comprehensive reform for efficient taxation.
This planned reform signals a welcomed relief to helping reduce the financial strain of property insurance and making it more accessible to NSW strata residents.
The NSW Government is preparing to implement pivotal reforms to strata laws to help the industry move towards a more transparent and equitable system. With approximately 1,000 strata schemes being registered annually over the past decade, the increasing need to address current issues and modernise strata living is becoming a key topic of focus.
The NSW Government is ready to commence its first phase of reforms to help benefit strata residents. The upcoming legislation will:
These reforms signify a promising step towards a fairer and more transparent strata living experience in NSW. Read on to learn how these reforms will address long-standing issues and help the strata laws adapt to the evolving landscape of community living arrangements.
In the face of rising living costs, Sydney Water brings to the forefront a solution to help strata properties conserve water and reduce costs – the WaterFix® Strata service. This service offers a free online water assessment, comprehensive building inspection, and an obligation-free repair quote designed to help strata properties uncover and implement effective water-saving strategies. Here’s a deep dive into what WaterFix Strata could mean for your property:
The WaterFix Strata service offers a free online water usage assessment to help you determine if your strata property’s water consumption aligns with industry benchmarks.
Water efficiency assessment: If the initial assessment flags excessive water usage, WaterFix Strata investigates further by inspecting 10% of apartments and common areas to pinpoint the root causes impacting your property’s water efficiency.
WaterFix Strata provides no-obligation quotes inclusive of services and materials from licensed plumbers and skilled tradespeople for water efficiency improvements such as:
Flexible Payment Options: WaterFix Strata offers flexible payment options, including a one-off fee, distributed payments over 12 months, or a performance agreement based on water savings.
Additionally, substantial savings properties could qualify for a performance payment plan, eliminating the need for any out-of-pocket payments.
Visit the Sydney Water website below to learn more about WaterFix Strata and discover how much you can save for your building today.
In the first half of 2023, electric vehicle (EV) purchases accounted for 8% of new car sales in NSW, indicating a growing shift towards eco-friendly transportation. With the increasing shift and support towards eco-friendly transportation in NSW, the urgency to equip buildings, particularly apartment complexes, with EV charging infrastructure is escalating.
The NSW Government has launched an innovative program, the EV Ready Buildings initiative, dedicating $10 million to transform existing apartment complexes into EV-ready facilities.
The primary purpose of this initiative is to subsidise the assessment and installation of EV infrastructure.
Home Charging: A Preferred Choice for EV Owners
Industry estimates suggest that 80-90% of EV owners prefer to charge their vehicles at home, whether in a single dwelling or an apartment building. With 15% of NSW’s population living in apartments and nearly 84,000 strata schemes, the NSW Government is now offering co-funding to retrofit existing apartment buildings to make them EV-ready.
With grants up to $80,000 per building on offer, now is the perfect time to accelerate your strata’s shift towards a more sustainable future. Applications are open until the allocated funds are exhausted.
Investing in EV charging infrastructure will meet residents’ needs and expectations and increase interest in rental properties by offering added amenities. Moreover, it will improve equitable access to EV technology, driving sustainability efforts forward.
Learn more about this grant and check your strata property’s eligibility and application process today.
In a landmark move to tackle the rental shortage, Australia’s first short-term rental levy was introduced by the Victorian state government, declaring a 7.5% levy from 2025 on all revenue from short-stay accommodation platforms, such as Airbnb.
This move has quickly become the central point of discussion across Australia and could signify a paradigm shift in the management and pricing strategies for short-term rentals. As states consider various approaches to address the housing crisis, the Victorian-style Airbnb tax is emerging as a topic of interest and a potential solution for the housing crisis.
NSW Premier Chris Minns stated that he is open to adopting the Victorian model of a levy on short-term rentals. He noted that platforms like Airbnb have significantly reduced rental properties, particularly in coastal and popular holiday areas such as Byron Bay. As part of a broader initiative to boost housing availability, NSW is reviewing the state’s rental laws, which will consider a levy on short-term rentals.
NSW Housing Minister Rose Jackson will meet with the Andrews government to assess the modelling of Victoria’s 7.5% Airbnb levy and examine whether it could alleviate the rental crisis in NSW. While the levy is attractive, the NSW government is also looking into other measures to persuade investors and homeowners to put their properties into the long-term rental market.
Read more about the unfolding discussions surrounding Victoria’s innovative short-term rental levy.
PICA Group is working with BCB Strata Insurance Brokers to help limit premium increases for strata plans.
Over the past few years, BCB Strata Insurance Brokers have reported increased strata premiums with an average 20% rise nationally for standard risk profiles and up to 40% for regions impacted by floods and storms.
Here are their 2023 insights and suggestions to help you navigate the rise of strata insurance premium increases in New South Wales:
Download the information sheet below to read more on strata insurance premium increases and renewal review suggestions from BCB Strata Insurance Brokers.
As the popularity of e-bikes and e-scooters continues to rise for their eco-friendly and convenient transportation options, safety should be an utmost priority when it comes to charging electric vehicles.
Charging e-bike or e-scooter batteries can lead to overheating and, in rare cases, fire hazards. It is crucial to use chargers provided by the manufacturer and avoid charging devices overnight or unattended. Low-quality chargers, faulty batteries, or inappropriate charging practices may significantly increase the risk.
Recent incidents such as a fire at caused by an e-bike left charging, serve as a reminder of the importance of understanding the hazards and prioritise safety when it comes to their charging and storage.
Click on the link below to learn about the potential risks of charging e-bikes and e-scooters on your property.
The Energy Accounts Payments Assistance (EAPA) scheme is a valuable resource for individuals and families facing financial hardship in NSW. In partnership with non-government organisations and NSW energy retailers, this program provides eligible households with one-off payments to help ease the burden of electricity and gas costs.
Remember, if you find yourself struggling to pay your energy bills, don’t hesitate to reach out to your electricity or gas supplier for possible payment extensions or hardship arrangements. If further assistance is required, the EAPA scheme is there to help everyone access essential energy services and financial relief when needed.
Follow the link below to learn more about the eligibility criteria and application information.
The NSW Strata Community Association are urging to improve by-laws in response to a recommendation that would enforce a blanket prohibition of by-laws that block sustainability infrastructure.
The Statutory Review of the Strata Schemes Development Act 2015 (SSDA) and the Strata Schemes Management Act 2015 (SSMA) Consultation Paper have recommended ten improvements for the liveability of strata complexes. However, SCA (NSW) disagrees with recommendation 115, which would impose a blanket prohibition of by-laws that reject sustainability infrastructure based on their appearance.
Click the link to learn more.
Electric heaters, gas heaters, and reverse-cycle air conditioning are common types of heaters available. However, heating costs can rise significantly during winter if you’re not using an energy-efficient heater. When preparing your home for the cooler months, it is important to consider:
Click on the link for a 2023 guide to energy-efficient heaters to prepare for the upcoming winter.
Homeowners are urged to take a closer look at their flexible hoses. Also known as braided hoses, these are generally installed inside lot spaces and have been known to fail unexpectedly, resulting in water damage and significant repair costs. Understanding the risks associated with flexible hoses and how to maintain them can help you prevent costly repairs and protect your property from water damage.
Click the link to learn more about the issue of flexible hoses and why homeowners should check if their plumbing fixtures are in good condition.
Strata owners in NSW pay significantly more in duties, levies, and taxes than other states and territories. Calls for reform to the Emergency Services Levy (ESL) have been raised to improve insurance affordability for the strata community and insurance policyholders.
The ESL is a tax levied by the New South Wales government to fund emergency services such as fire and ambulance services. While the tax intends to assure adequate funding for essential services, many argue that the current system is inequitable and burdens strata owners disproportionately.
Click the link to learn more about the Emergency Services Levy and why it is considered an inequitable tax for strata property owners in New South Wales.
The NSW Government recently launched Project Innovate. This program helps strata property owners have serious defects and non-compliant building work fixed by the building’s developer.
You are likely eligible for this program if you own a lot within a residential building that fits into all of the following criteria:
A NSW Government initiative, Strata Hub is a compulsory new digital reporting tool for strata communities. It has been designed to make it easier for strata property owners and prospective buyers to access information about a strata property. It would also help NSW Fair Trading better monitor each property’s maintenance or defect rectification work.
Strata Hub has now been legislated and has completed stage one of its trial phase. During stage two of the trial phase, all strata schemes would be required to submit documentation to the platform.
PICA Group is keeping abreast of developments that come from the trial so that our customers’ Strata Hub requirements can be effectively maintained and managed.
You could expect your strata manager to send your committee further details about Strata Hub, as well as a suite of motions to consider, shortly.
We are thrilled to share that PICA Group was awarded not just one but two accolades at the SCA NSW Strata Community CHU Awards for Excellence in July.
A giant congratulations to these superstars who took out coveted awards:
– Sarah Hogg: Winner, Senior Strata Community Manager Award
– Keith Hallet (alongside Andrew Croucher and Strata Plan 55792): Winner, Strata Community Environmental and Engagement Award
A giant congratulations must also go out to our award finalists:
– Keith Hallet: Finalist, Strata Community Manager Award
– Dynamic Property Services: Finalist, Strata Community Management Business Award – Large
We at PICA Group strive for excellence in enhancing community living, so it was wonderful to see some of our hard work and talented staff members being recognised at the awards ceremony.
The Federal Government has declared the floods experienced earlier this year a natural disaster. If you were affected by major damage to your property or other assets due to these floods, you and your family might be eligible for a lump sum payment of $1000 per adult and $400 per child younger than 16.
If you live in one of the 30+ local government areas that have been declared a disaster, you have until 1 February 2023 to make a claim for this assistance payment.
The Fair Work Commission has increased the minimum wage from 4.6%- 5.2%, effective 1st of July 2022.
This means some contractors assisting your property for services such as cleaning, security, gardening, landscaping, pest control, plumbing, and fire services may increase their labour costs.
We encourage committees to take the 4.6%-5.2% rise in the minimum wage into account when budgeting for regular maintenance works as well as repairs and upgrade projects.
If you have any questions regarding budgeting for increased labour costs, please get in touch with your strata manager.
Australia has experienced significant challenges over the past 2.5 years – from devastating bush fires and the pandemic to the recent significant flooding in South-Eastern Queensland and Northern NSW. This all contributes to a national challenge in securing materials and labour to attend to both emergency works and routine maintenance works required for your strata community.
While PICA Group has access to an extensive list of contractors, there are delays and economic impacts that are unavoidable as a result of the economic climate we face and we ask for your understanding as the suppliers work with us and your community to provide the necessary services.
The broader impact of these shortages, escalating prices and significant insurance losses are the impact to the premiums that may be experienced by strata communities and businesses throughout Australia.
Brokers have indicated an expectation to accommodate an uplift in budgets for insurance renewals. Given this is likely to be based on the existing building sum insured (with minor escalation of costs allowances), it is important to consider how these escalating costs could affect your strata community.
We recommend that your committee considers reviewing the policy limits and, where appropriate, obtains a revised insurance valuation report that considers all costs, including building sum insured, temporary accommodation, demolition etc., to make sure that there is sufficient provision in the event of a claim being submitted.
To obtain an appropriate valuation, or for any other assistance you may need for this task, please liaise directly with your strata manager.
Strata Hub, a compulsory new digital reporting tool, has now begun its trial phase. A NSW Government initiative, Strata Hub is designed to make it easier for strata property owners and prospective buyers to access information about a strata property. It would also help NSW Fair Trading better monitor each property’s maintenance or defect rectification work.
Strata Hub has now been legislated, and all strata schemes would be required to submit documentation to the platform once the trial phase is over.
PICA Group is keeping abreast of developments that come from the trial so that our customers’ Strata Hub requirements can be effectively maintained and managed.
You can learn more about Strata Hub below.
PICA Group’s CEO Wayne Walker will once again be participating in the Vinnies CEO Sleepout, this year on 23 June. Needless to say, we’re incredibly proud of him.
This annual event raises vital funds for people experiencing homelessness or at risk of finding themselves without a safe place to call home. Every dollar we raise goes to Vinnies’ services, which include food, accommodation, education, counselling, employment and health programs. If you’d like to make a donation to Wayne’s fundraising effort, you can do so below.
The Federal Government has now passed the Treasury Laws Amendment (Cyclone and Flood Damage Reinsurance Pool) Bill 2022, which is due to assist property owners in cyclone-prone regions with insurance affordability.
This program was first announced as part of the 2021-22 Federal Budget last year and is backed by a $10 billion government guarantee. This will allow the government to establish a reinsurance pool, which is set to assist with supporting the funding of claims for over 880,000 eligible policies.
The true specifics of how this legislation would operate across the insurance sector are yet to be fully determined as the insurance pool has only recently been announced. In the meantime, you can access the specific legislation below.