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Article: Failure of Strata Management Highlights Public Consultation

March 21, 2016

Picture of CEO Speaking at CSC Public Consultation Forum

Sandra Watson, CEO of the Real Estate Board/Commission of Strata Corporations gives the welcome and opening remarks. Looking on is Ainsworth Norton, Manager of the CSC Inspectorate (Photo Right) | Public Forum Attendees (Photo Left)

The failure of the management of strata properties or strata corporations as they are referred to in the law, highlighted a public forum and consultation held by the Commission of Strata Corporations (CSC) to sensitise stakeholders on proposed amendments to the Registration (Strata Titles) Act.

The Forum which was held on Thursday March 17 at the Girl Guides Association of Jamaica Headquarters, brought together stakeholders such as Executive Committees of Strata Corporations, financial and property insurance institutions, conveyance attorneys, property managers, developers and persons interested in strata corporations to discuss amendments to the Registration (Strata Titles) Act.

The Registration (Strata Titles) Act was amended in 2009, establishing the CSC which began operation on January 1, 2010.  The Commission which shares a Board and Administrative offices with the Real Estate Board, is mandated to monitor, regulate and supervise strata corporations in Jamaica. A strata property is a building or collection of buildings, where individuals each own a small portion (a strata lot) but where there is also common property (eg. external walls, windows, roof, driveways) which each owner shares ownership over.

Sandra Watson, CEO of the Real Estate Board/Commission of Strata Corporations, in thanking those in attendance, noted that the 2009 Amendments provided for a three-year review of the Act and this consultation was critical to that process.

Ainsworth Norton, Manager of the CSC Inspectorate, in making the presentation noted that a vast number of strata corporations were in violation of sections of the legislation. “The rate of compliance for strata corporations filing their annual returns averages approximately 12% of the number of corporations due to file returns in a given year since April 2011.   The audits undertaken by the Commission in 2014/2015 on some strata corporations indicate that 88% had issues relating to physical breaches which required an action or response from the executive committee.  Approximately 38% of those corporations audited had not ratified any decision to not insure and had failed to insure the buildings and a similar percentage failed to compute contributions based on the unit entitlement.”

The Amendments, as outlined by Mr. Norton, are intended to address a litany of issues, including: defining actions aimed at increasing statutory compliance regarding matters such as filing annual returns, holding annual general meetings, payment and use of maintenance fees, and a range of breaches to the by-laws and the Act.  He also went on to suggest that some of the problems associated with a number of strata corporations stemmed from their initial design and a defect in the Act which does not allow for phased development of strata corporations.

The Agency also used the opportunity to tout two new offerings.  The first is its online payment as a payee under Scotia Online and the National Commercial Bank, giving customers the ability to make fast and convenient payments via these     portals. The second is its recently launched Real Estate Training Institute which will offer real estate-related courses and issue a nationally accepted Certificate. Courses began on March 18 at 1 Surbiton Road, Kingston 10.