Strata Disputes

22 SAT and Dispute Resolution

While the State Administrative Tribunal (SAT) has the statutory powers to efficiently resolve strata disputes, parties are encouraged to resolve the dispute between themselves in the first instance.

If direct resolution doesn’t work the matter could be the subject of a council meeting and/or resolution of the strata company in general meeting. The scheme by-laws may have a dispute resolution process. Parties can also consider mediation services. Any of these options may resolve the matter and avoid the need to go to SAT. This way, both parties can gain an appreciation of the issues under dispute and decrease the likelihood of ongoing conflict between the parties.

When disputes cannot be resolved informally, there is a formal process of dispute resolution provided through SAT. Mediation is regularly used by SAT to assist the parties in resolving the issues in dispute.

There may be occasional problems associated with strata living, but most of those problems also exist in the non-strata environment. The advantage of strata living includes mechanisms such as by-laws and SAT exist to assist in the reconciliation of disputes.

The SAT website provides access to a decisions database, which contains the outcome of decisions made by SAT.

This database includes decisions made pursuant to the Strata Titles Act 1985. You may wish to check through the database for decisions that may be similar to a current dispute in your strata scheme; the documented decision may assist in the dispute resolution process. The decision database can be found at the State Administrative Tribunal.

Can I bring my dispute straight to SAT
 

If you have a dispute, you can make an application straight to SAT. There used to be requirements for the application be accompanied by a certificate in respect of the existence of by-laws, but these were repealed in the amendments to the Act.

Can SAT resolve the dispute?
 

See sections 197 of the Act

SAT has the power to resolve many kinds of disputes including disputes between:

  • a strata company

  • a lot owner

  • an occupier of a lot in the scheme

  • an owner of a leasehold scheme

  • an administrator of a strata company

  • the mortgagee of a lot

  • a member of the strata council

  • an officer of the strata company.

 

The disputes may be about:

  • the scheme documents (e.g. scheme plan, schedule of unit entitlements, scheme by-laws including the validity of by-laws, schedule of unit entitlements, etc)

  • the performance of a function conferred or imposed on a person by the Act or the scheme by-laws

  • an alleged contravention of the Act (other than an offence)

  • a resolution or decision of a strata company or the strata council, including its validity

  • the appointment or election of a member of the council or an officer of a strata company

  • any other matter arising under the Act or the scheme by-laws

  • an applicant and a person who must consent to an application for registration, or amendment, of a strata titles scheme

  • a strata company and a person (other than WAPC or a local government authority) about a refusal to give an approval or consent where the scheme by-laws require the approval or consent (other than leasehold bylaws, staged subdivision by-laws and exclusive use by-laws)

  • the owner of sustainability or utility infrastructure installed on the common property (through a contract with the strata company) and the strata company, about the matter connected with a common property (utility and sustainability infrastructure) easement

  • the scheme developer and a strata company about matters involving the first AGM, key documents of the scheme, disclosure of remuneration and other benefits

  • the strata company and a designated person about the giving of contact information, inspection of material and the giving of certificates

  • a strata manager, or former strata manager, and the strata company about matters involving the authorised functions of a strata manager or the strata management contract

  • a buyer or prospective buyer of a lot in a scheme and the seller of a lot about the giving of information to the buyer before or after the contract, the exercise of avoidance rights under the Act and other matters covered in the Protection of Buyers part of the Act

  • an occupier of a lot in the scheme and the owner of the lot or the proponent about a proposal to terminate a strata titles scheme.

 

An occupier of a lot can apply for resolution of a dispute listed above only if the dispute is about the scheme by-laws, if they are directly affected by a resolution or decision of the strata company or an obligation or right of the occupier under the Act or the by-laws.

If SAT orders the amendment of a scheme document the order must specify the extent to which the amendment is subject to the obtaining of approvals and consents that would otherwise be required. An order requiring amendment of a scheme document does not take effect until the Registrar of Titles registers the amendment of the scheme document.

Types of orders SAT can make
 

The orders which SAT may make includes:

  • requiring a scheme document be amended in a specified manner

  • requiring a structural element which defines the boundary of a lot to be reinstated following its damage, destruction or removal

  • determining the form and location of utility conduits (pipe, wire, cable or duct) to provide specified utility services subject to a utility service easement

  • requiring the scheme developer pay a specified amount to a strata company, being the whole or part of a remuneration or benefit that the scheme developer failed to disclose to the strata company

  • determining action that must be taken, or refrained from being taken, by a member of a strata company to enable the strata company to obtain required insurance

  • authorising a specified person to convene and preside at a general meeting:

  • as the first AGM

  • to appoint or elect members of the strata council or officers of the strata company or

  • for some other specified purpose

  • authorising a specified person to convene and preside at a meeting of the strata council:

  • to appoint or elect officers of the strata company or

  • for some other specified purpose

  • removing a person from the strata council or as an officer of a strata company

  • appointing a specified person from office as a member of the strata council or as an officer of a strata company

  • varying or terminating a strata management contract

  • requiring a strata manager to pay a specified amount to a strata company, being the whole or a part of the remuneration or the value of a benefit that they failed to disclose

  • requiring a strata company to take or refrain from taking specified action when performing or exercising its

  • functions, including orders to:

  • sell or acquire real or personal property

  • to enter into, vary or terminate a contract, including a contract for services or amenities to the strata

  • company or its members

  • to pursue an insurance claim

  • to vary the amount of insurance cover

  • to allow or prohibit the keeping of an animal

  • requiring a person to take or refrain from taking specified action to remedy or prevent further contraventions of the Act, scheme by-laws or a strata management contract

  • the strata company is taken to have passed/not passed a specified resolution required under the Act or

  • the scheme by-laws as an ordinary resolution, special resolution, resolution without dissent or unanimous

  • resolution

  • requiring a party to pay money as compensation to a person for loss or damage suffered

  • requiring a party to pay money to another party to adjust the position or rights on the termination or variation of a contract

  • requiring a person who is holding a deposit or other moneys in trust to pay the deposit or other moneys to

  • the former buyer

  • appointing an administrator of a strata company to perform some or all scheme functions.

 

If a SAT order is inconsistent with scheme by-laws in force when the order is made, the order prevails. Section 197(3) of the Act lists the types of orders that SAT cannot make.

Evidence required to support an application
 

Depending on the type of application you wish to submit, you may have to attach relevant documents to your

application form.

When you have generated the ‘Overview’ document in the Application Wizard it will also have a download called a ‘Practice Note’. There are numerous practice notes and the Overview will have the specific practice note for your application. The practice note gives you details on how to complete the application, what supporting documents are required, how to serve the other parties (if required) and information about the hearing process and possible outcomes for your matter.

If you are unsure about what documents you need to lodge, please contact SAT. Contact details for SAT are outlined at the back of this guide.

Submitting a SAT application
 

Depending on the type of application you are making, there may be a time limit on your application. You can view the Time Limits page on the SAT website for more information.

The easiest way to apply to SAT is by using the SAT Application Wizard. Hard copy application forms can also be requested by contacting SAT or visit their website www.sat.justice.wa.gov.au.

In special circumstances, such as when an applicant lives in a remote location, SAT’s Executive Officer may agree to the application being emailed or faxed. If you have special needs please contact SAT to discuss. You will also need to give copies of the application to the parties named in the application, in the required manner. See Serving the Application on more details. Remember to keep a copy for your records.

© 2003-2019 by Abode Strata. Privacy Policy
The advice within is general and has been prepared without taking into account any specific or personal objectives, financial situation or needs.

Please also note this general advice was provided prior to the new strata title amendments were proclaimed and will be updated in due course.

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