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Strata Law

When an Owners Corporation Fails to Comply with a Tribunal Order

It’s not every day that the Tribunal orders an Owners Corporation (OC) to pay a penalty, but it can happen.

Recently PBL Law Group (Alex Ilkin Strata Lawyers) acted for the Westburys – owners of a lot in a scheme. In this case the OC had already been ordered earlier to perform rectification works to fix water issues on the patio in the Westburys lot.

The OC had attempted to do the rectification in accordance with an agreed scope of works which required changes to cater for water ponding issues. To implement a proper solution to the problem the OC had to get permission from another lot owner – and that permission was not given.

The OC decided it had done everything it could do, leaving the Westburys with the same issues the earlier orders.

Had the OC done enough? What happens if an OC has tried to fix something under an Tribunal Order but couldn’t due to matters outside its control?

There are various sanctions the Tribunal can make against parties who do not comply with Orders. One of those includes issuing a penalty for non-compliance. Most people don’t bother seeking this, because the law requires you to get consent from the Solicitor-General to proceed – a piece of red tape that most can’t be bothered dealing with.

In this case, the Westburys did get the necessary consent, and sought penalty orders against the Owners Corporation.

The Owners Corporation argued that it had a “reasonable excuse” for failing to comply with the Orders, because it had attempted to get consent from the other affected owners for the new works required, and those owners adamantly refused to give it.

The Tribunal, however, was not convinced. It pointed out that the Owners Corporation could have sought an extension of time for the orders, applied for a stay on the orders, or applied for other forms of relief – and that it had done none of those things.

After consideration the Tribunal ordered the Body Corporate to pay a penalty of $6,600 (from an available maximum of $20,000).

The lesson? Don’t just ignore Court or Tribunal orders because you’re having trouble giving effect to them. Get advice and take the necessary steps to solve the problem.

Case citation: Westbury v The Owners – Strata Plan No 64061 [2021] NSWCATEN 3

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