Brought to you by:

Strata peak body pushes for ESL review as NSW prepares for March 25 election

Strata Community Association (SCA) NSW has urged the winner of this month’s state election to review the Emergency Services Levy (ESL) and to commit to reforms aimed at weeding out building defect issues plaguing the construction industry.

The SCA NSW branch made the calls with two weeks to go before NSW voters go to the polls on March 25. Premier Dominic Perrottet is battling to lead the Coalition government to a fourth straight term in power as opinion surveys indicate he faces an uphill task to hold off Opposition Labor leader Chris Minns and his party.

SCA NSW President Stephen Brell says the NSW strata sector is seeking assurance from the incoming government that ongoing, targeted programs and initiatives continue, in an effort to help restore consumer confidence in strata schemes and the property sector.

The ESL is an important issue because NSW is the only mainland state that funds its emergency services through a tax on insurance, the peak body says.

SCA says as the cost of living increases exponentially, strata owners are being burdened with an unfair share of the heavy lifting when it comes to funding emergency services by paying the ESL through a tax on insurance, which has seen premiums increase by 18% per annum.

Strata insurance is compulsory for NSW residents who own such properties.

“Emergency services are a critical part of our community but they must be funded in a way that doesn’t unfairly punish strata residents who are required to purchase compulsory strata insurance,” Mr Brell said.

SCA says it has been working with the Office of the Building Commissioner (OBC) on a number of key issues within the sector and that it needs to see that work continue with a renewed focus, commitment and investment by the incoming government.

“The NSW residential apartment sector is at risk if it does not continue the work of the OBC to rectify building defects and strengthen consumer protections for the millions of NSW residents living in strata buildings,” Mr Brell said.

“SCA NSW and its members strongly believe in the value and importance of the building and property sector reforms currently underway in NSW, and together we urge any future government to commit to the timely implementation of these critical, landmark, and necessary changes.”

A survey of 1400 strata managers conducted by SCA NSW and the OBC found more than one-third (39%) of new strata buildings have serious defects representing an average cost of approximately $331,829 per building.

“NSW leads the way in the trend of higher density living with apartments accounting for more than half of all new dwellings expected to be built by 2032,” Mr Brell said.

“With more than 50% of the NSW population expected to live and work in strata schemes by 2040 it is vital that we have an industry that is trusted and accountable.”