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Topic : Shelter

THE NATURE OF SHELTER

●      Definition:

  • Shelter refers to a fixed environment, which offers security and protection, from danger and weather. Shelter varies depending on an individuals ability to pay, and can either be private, for instance, houses and apartments, or public, for example boarding houses, public parks etc. Shelter significantly contributes to the overall function of society, the holistic development of individuals and the provision of individual rights.
  • Shelter suggest having a roof over ones head and walls around the space, so that the person sheltering inside is safe, physically comfortable and able to relax enough to rest. Having shelter aids physical, emotion and mental health by providing security.
  • Society in contemporary Australia operates on a presumption that everyone has a ixed address and can be found by authority figures who may need to communicate with them Right to shelter:
  • A commonly accepted view is that shelter is a basic need and that a persons quality of lfie is affected directly by the adequacy of their shelter

→ Article 25 of the UDHR states that ‘everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing and housing, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, old age’.

  • No country can be forced toe nact legislation that would give a legal right to shelter, and successive Australian government have chosen not to grant this right. As a result, providing shelter is a personal responsibility. Individuals are expected to find and pay for their own shleter and they must provide adequate shelter for any children in their care.
  • Obligation to provide shelter:
  • In Australia, issues oncerning housing are the responsibility of both federal and state governments.
  • Federal powers to make laws about housing are limited under the Commonwealth Costitution; the federal parliament has no direct powers to make laws about housing and can only do so through its indirect powers. Therefore, most legislation relating to housing is state law.
  • Both major political parties are similar in their housing policies; The Liberal/National Coalition encouraged private ownership by making laws to protect home buyers and make it easier for people ot by. The Australian Labor Party (ALP) has also facilitated private ownership by building up the numbers of homes available and assisting those who cannot afford to buy, particularly by increasing the amouhnt of money on offer under the First Home Owner Grant.

→ FHOG introduced in July 2000, is a federal scheme that is supported by each state, which provides a grant directly to people seeking to purchase/ construct their first home.

  • Australian government have indicated that they do not consider it to be the governments responsibility to provide housing for all its citizens, seeing the provision of shelter as an individual responsibility
  • Despite this, governments have endeavoured to assist the disadvantaged to varying degrees over the years, through the estbalishment of social housing and through legislation. The government of NSW provides and anages public housing through Housing NSW, under the Department of Human Services, to enable those on a low income to obtain shelter. Government-funded personnel including interpreters, are available to advise onri ghts, buing and renting. Legislation protects the rights of purchasers, vendors (peoson selling property), landlords and tenants.
  • Laws concerning shelter:

–     Legislation concerning shleter is mainly state-based, and in NSW there is a significant body of statute alw relating to shelter. The NSW Government has enacted legislation to protect the rights of purchasers and vendors during the sale of private property.

  • Types of shelter:
  • Private housing can be bought or rented. This type of dwelling is usually owned by individuals. A property is chosen, payment is made, contracts are signed and a legal transfer of ownership occurs. The individual then acquires rights to privately use and control that property.
  • Public housing is accommodation owned and provided by the government. The system of public housing was introduced by the Commonwealth and State Housing Agreement Act 1945 (Cth) in an attempt to ensure a good standard of accommodation for all. A person who lives in public housing has to pay rent and is called a public tenant. The federal and state governments share the cost of building and maintaing public units and houses.
  • Members of the community who are aged or disabled can live in accommodation that offers specialist care int he forn of retirement villages, hostels, serviced apartments and nursing homes. All provide support for residents in the form of cooking, cleaning and nursing. Residents can own a unit, rent it or pay a fee.
  • Residential parks offer an alternative type of accommodation. They contain caravans or mobile homes, a toilet block, electrical supply, a small shop and man office. A person living in a residential park can set their own privately owned caravan or mobile home up in the park adn pay rent for the sit and the amenities, or pay rent for a cabin or a caravan that sits permanently on the site and is owned by another person.
  • Squatting is another type of shelter, which costs nothing. A squatter is a person who lives on premises without the consent of the owner. This situation may occur if a building is left vacant and it becomes known that the owner is not checking on the building. Squatters may then move in and use the shelter for free.

Distinguish between the three types of shared/private dwellings

There are three different types of shared/private dwellings including separate dwellings which is an Individual who owns blocks of land containing houses that do not join onto other buildings. This is covered by the Real Property Act 1900 (NSW) and the Conveyancing Act 1919 (NSW). This differs from the Company title which companies buy the land and block of units. Each shareholder      in the company has the right to live in a unit but no right of ownership to the land or the unit itself this is protected under the Corporations Act 2001 (NSW) Conversely, Strata title isproperty which is divided into ‘lots’. There are separate titles for each lot. Each owner buys a unit and has absolute rights to sell, mortgage or lease it as if it were a separate dwelling this is covered by the Strata Schemes (Freehold Development) Act 1973 and the Strata Schemes Management Act 1996 (NSW).


LEGAL PROTECTION AND REMEDIES ASSOCIATED WITH SECURING SHELTER

● Purchasing:

  • Private treaty or auction;
  • A common method of securing shelter is to purchase land and a dwelling, with the purchase occuring as a private treaty or at an auction. A private treaty is a sale negotiated directly between the purchaser and vendor, with or without an intervening agency such as a real state agent.
  • In regards to an auction, an auctioneer, acting on behlaf of the bendor, accpets the highest bid.

→ private treaty purchases can be a slow process, unlike an auction which is much faster

→ both methods result in the purchase of a property

→ regardless of private treaty or auctio, the rights of all parties to a sale, are protected by legislation concerning the format and content of the contract of sale

→ in case of an auction there are further protections of the parties concerning the auctioneer and the way the auction is conducted

  • Separate dwelling or shared space;
  • Separate dwellings are individuals blocks of land containing houses that do not join onto other buildings
  • Shared space is the term used to describe properties that are not completely separate from the neighbours, eg. units and town houses, where walls, stairwells and gardens are shared by all occupants (this shared space is known as common property).
  • The state provides protection for the vendor and the purchaser during the exchange of property through legislation. A standard contract of sale has been developed, real estate agents have regulated roles, the solicitor is trained to safeguard against pitfalls that the vendor or purchaser might encounter, and the Building Services Corporation has been set up as part of the Office of Fair Traditing NSW with the aim of protecting the customer.

Outline the two ways property can be obtained by a person. Include any relevant legislation. Private treaty – Sale negotiated directly between the purchaser and seller (with our without real estate agent). The process of buying and selling a property (conveyancing) is regulated by the Conveyancing (Sale of Land) Regulation 2010 under the Conveyancing Act 1919 (NSW).  Auction – The auctioneer (acting on behalf of the seller) who must hold a valid license, under s21 of the Property, Stock and Business Agents Act 2010 accepts the highest bid. The way an auction is conducted is governed by Part 6 of the Act. The Act aims to protect sellers and purchasers from dishonest practices.


TERMINOLOGY:

Real property land and immovable objects

Ownership occurs when legal obligations are fulflled (that is, there has been a legal transfer of       title through a contract and the full value of the property has been paid); ownership brings with it the right to sell that property

Possession the physical occupancy of a property; the person who has possession may be different from the one who has legal ownership fo the property (for instance, a tenant has possession and a landlord has ownership)

Adverse possession the transfern of title from owner to occupant, if the occupant has been living   on the premises for a period of time (12 years in NSW) and the owner has had no contact witht he property in that time

Freehold title to property that indiciates ownership of that property, and includes the complete       rights to sell or give away that property

Tenancy the right to occupy a property under a lease for a set time; it is held by the person renting the property

Vendor a person seeking to sell a property

 

  • Systems of registration:

– There are amny types of title to land and each relates to proof of ownership and documentation of ownership.

→ Old System title and Torrens title

There are two types of title to land in NSW; the Old System title, which was the original methods, and the Torrens title, which developed in response to problems that arose in the old system title.

Old System title

  • Under the old system title, the selling and buying of land created a chain of ownership. A deed was drawn up each time land was bought and sold, which included the names of venor and purchaser and a description of the land. The series of deeds applying to a piece of land formed the documentary proof of ownership. Of one of those deeds was lost, the chain was broken and proof of ownership was gone.
  • As it is very easy for a mistake to occur along the chain, which could create an obvious injustuce to others years later
  • Old system title still exists today for properties that have not been sold since 1900, but in order to steamline conveyancing in NSw, any old system will be automatically converted to the torrens title system Torrens title 
  • Torrens title replaced the more complicated old system title with the inherent unfairness that could easily arise with a past invalid deed negating subsequent valid deeds.
  • Simple idea behind the Torrens system is that, upon transfer of the property, the purchaser has the title registered at the Land Titles Office. Once registered the validity of the title cannot be

questioned and the state, as represnted by the Registrar-General, will guarantee that the title is good.When the property is resold, the new purchases conveyancer simply has to check the Registrar-General’s records, obtain a copy of the certificate of the title and thereby learn all the facts necessary about ownership, mortgages, the land and the building. These records are computerised and easy to access.

→ all property registered under the Torrens system is covered by the Real Property Act 1900 (NSW)

 


What is the difference between ‘freehold’ and ‘leasehold’?

Freehold and leasehold are both systems of registration, in regards to securing shelter. Freehold refers to when a person buys property, and has complete control over the land, and thus is able sell it, build on it or leave it in a will to somebody else. Whereas leasehold is created by a tenancy agreement, which gives the person the right to possess and use the property for a set period of time, in exchange for payment to the landlord. It does not not give ownership of the property to the person with leasehold, and thus is more limited that freehold.

 

What documents provide evidence of freehold? 

Evidence of freehold can be found in the Old System Title documents and Torrens Title documents, as well as Company, Strata or Community scheme documents.  

 

Why is the Torrens title system better than Old System title?

Considering that the Old System title is complex, time-consuming and expensive, the Torren title system is better as it simplifies the process of land transfer and ownership by reducing the number of documents involved to one, where as the old system title would accumulate numerous of deeds from one person to the next for the last thirty years. The Torrens title system creates one page in the folio of the Register at the land and property Information Division, which contains information of all the current and previous deeds. Thus, the Torrens system in less complex, cheaper, quicker and more reliable that the old system title.


Explain both the old and new ways a person can prove ownership over a piece of land/property

→ If you have ‘title’ (ownership) over a piece of land, you “own” it (have the right to sell or lease it). Each piece of land has to be registered at the Land and Property Information NSW so individuals are able to prove that they have rights and control over the property.

Old System Title → The selling and buying of land created a ‘Chain of Ownership’, i.e. a deed was drawn up every time land was bought and sold, which included

–          The names of the vendor and purchaser

–          The description of the land

–          The series of deeds applying to a piece of land formed the documentary proof of ownership


Reform → The legal requirement now is that the conveyancer (solicitor who deals with property matters) or vendor (seller) do not need to gather evidence of an infinite unbroken chain, they just need to show that the deeds have been traced back 30 years (and that the title was legal in each of the deeds during this time).

Torrens title → Governed by the Real Property Act 1900 , when a property is transferred (bought and sold) the purchaser has the title registered at the Land and Property Information. Once registered, the validity of the title cannot be questioned, creating certainty of title for the owners. The registered owner also receives a copy of the certificate. When the property is resold, the new purchaser’s conveyancer checks LPI’s record, get a copy of the Certificate of Title and be able to learn all the facts needed about ownership, mortgages, the land and the buildings.


Standard contract of sale

  • The vendor and purchaser must enter into a contract for a legal transfer of title to take place. In order to protect the parties a standard contract of sale, was developed. The Conveyancing Act 1919 (NSW) specifies what this contract must contain, providing a form of legislative protection of the parties.

Features of property contract → easements and covenants (eg. if there are any restrictions on the way the land can be used), standard details (eg. price, full names and addresses), and special conditions (eg. which fittings are to remain)

  • Standard contract details: to be valid, a contract for sale of land must be in writing and signed by both the vendor(s) and purchaser(s). It must also include details such as price, deposit amount, names, addresses, occupations, description of the property, description of the title to the land, and the date and time at which settlement will occur.
  • Special conditions cover fittings and furniture that will remain in the house, eg. fixed air conditioning unit, light fittings, etc. The opportunity to add special conditions provides protection for the purchaser in particular. It is common for a purchaser to presume that curtains blinds or light fittings will be part of the package bought with the house, but nothing can be presumed. All agreements must be written into the contract if they are to be legally binding.
  • Easements and covenants: further legislative protection of the purchaser comes from the Conveyancing (Vendore Disclosure and Warranty) Regulation 1986 (NSW), which states what information must be attached to the standard form of contract.

→ an easement gives a legal right of access to someone else’s property, eg. for house B to use house A’s driveway to access their house

→ a covenant is a legal agreement between interest parties to use the property in a restricted wayeg. A concrete driveway cannot be built over the pipes because Sydney Water would then have no access to repair those pipes

 

People involved in real property transfers

  • Estate agents value properties, use their networks and reputation to advertise that a property is for sale, and show prospective purcahsers through the property. Estate agents also exchnage contracts for sale, find suitable potential properties for purchasers, lease premises and collect rent payments. A real estate agent must be licensed under the Property, Stock and Business Agents Act 2002 (NSW)
  • Auctioneers must hold a valid license granted under Property, Sock and Business Agents Act

2002 , and the way the auction is conducted is governed under the Property, Stock and Business Agents Regulation 2003 (NSW) . This Act and regulation changed the way auctions were conducted, with the arim of the reform ebing to protect vendors and purchasers from dishonest practices where auctions were rigged with fake bidders nad the parties are manipulated into buying or selling after being given false information by real estate agents of auctioneers. An important mechanism introduced was the registration of all bidders and the keeping of bidders record. The

  • Solicitors check the terms of contracts for sale of land before signing, to ensure that the rights and interest of vendors/purahseors are being protected. They also ensure that a vendors responsibilities are fulfilled. Solictors also communicate between each otherto ensure that both parties rights are protected and that no one is taken advantage of.
  • Licensed conveyancers is a specialist in the work needed to transfer ownership of a residential property.

 

Financing house purchases

  • Use of mortgages to secure loans
  • Financial institutions such as banks, building societies, fiancance companies, credit unions and insurance complanies will lend money (called the principal) on the condition that it is paid back over a set time (often 25 years) with interest paid regularly.
  • In return for the loan, the financial institution holds the title deefs to hte property being funded as security in case the borrower fails to pay.
  • Finanial institutions will require a signature guaranteeing that tahat information about the burrowers job, income, assests, saving hisotry and credit history is correct.
  • The amount loaned depends largely on the assured future income of the borrower, as the financial institution wishes to make sure that interest and the principal can be epaid back.
  • Mortgage describes the transfer of property to the instituion granting the loan as secuity until the loan is paid
  • Financial institutions have the right of forecloser – when the lender exercises their the right to sell the property if the borrower fails to repay the loan.

  • Personal loans
  • Financial instituions will lend money for other purposes apart from buying property. A personal loan enables people to purchase good imeegidaely however pthey have a higher interest rate than a mortgage adn the set period for repayment is shorter, often a few months.
  • Credit reporting
  • Information on the financial hisotry of an applicate is obtained by questioning the burrower and by investigating that burrowers history though the Credit Reference Association of Australia (CRAA) , which would have previous bankruptcies, court orders for debt and non-payment of credit purchases recorded.
  • The existence of this record and that fact that it will be passed on could be seen as an invasion of privacy → therefore it is limited by the Privacy Act 1988 (Cth), which limits the type of information availbale, and is guided by recommendations of the NSW Privacy Committee.

 

→ The Contracts Review Act 1980 (NSW) , introduced the principle of ‘caveat emptor’ which forces parties to be careful and to take responsibility when signing the contract. However there is room for injustice as a buyer with no experience could be ‘conned’ by an experienced vendor, thus the Act allows the Supreme Cour to change the terms of a contract or to cancel the agreement made in the contract on the ground of unfairness.

 

Extent of borrower protection 

 

  Gazumping

  • Practice of a vendor agreeings to an offer by the purchaser adn then accepting a higher offer from another person. Gazumping favours the venodr.
  • Such is an unfair practice (as it does not protect individual rights & freedoms), as the purchaser could spend money initiating searches, haiving survery plans drawn up, organising a pest inspection, etc → an attempt was amde to outlaw gazumping in NSW with an amending act to the Conveyancing Act 1919, but this was not succcessful and was repealed. There is still no absolute protection for the purchases, however the conditions under which the vendor may rescind (revoke/cancel) a conditional contract for the sale of property or land has been significantly limited. → there is not only a five day cooling off period (however this does not apply to auctions), however it is possibly for the purchases to waive the cooling off period however that is not in the best interest to do so

 

 

 

Insurance

  • Types of shelter affecting shelter include building insurance, mortgage protection, contents insurance, public liability insurance
  • Budiling insurance provides financial protection for the owner if the building or land is damaged or destroyed. During the process of purchase the vendors insurance covers the property until settlement. After settlement hte purchaser is responsible for insurance. If the property is damaged between exchange of contracts and settlement, the purchase price may be altered or the contract rescinded.
  • Contents insurance protects objects inside the home from damage or loss
  • Mortgage protection is an insurance policy that covers the borrowers mortgage payments if they are unable to keep up with payments because of illness or forced redundancy
  • Public liability insurance provides protection for the owner if a member of the public is hurt on that property. An owner has a duty of care to maintain a safe property and can be sued if someone is hurt there, this insurance would compensate the injured party.

 

Shared space

  • Dwellings involving shared space create unique problems for the people living in them, as strangers are required to share property/utilities which may include walls, laundries, driveways, stairwells and gardens.
  • Types of title for shared spaces include company, strata and community title
  • Company title is when a company is formed to buy land and block of units. Each shareholder in the company has the right to live in a unit but no right of onwership to the land and unit itself. The company owns the single title deed for the whole block. A board of directors runs the company nad controls through majority vote the occupation and use of those units. The shareholder can sell the shares in a unit but only subject to approval by the majority of shareholders.
  • Strata title is the most common form of title for shared spaces and is govered by the Strata Schemes Management Act 1996 (NSW) , which requires the property to be divided into a strata plan and registered, therefore there are separate titles for each lot eg. apartment and garage. Each owner buys a unit and has the absolute right to sell, mortgage or lease it as if it were a separate dwelling. The Act also specifies the duties of the owners corporation and the rights of the owners of each lot.
  • Community title was introduced to NSW by the passage of the Community Land Development Act 1989 (NSW) , and the Communit Land Management Act 1989 (NSW) , because of the land shortage in the Sydney metropolitan areas. Such involves land being broken into small lots, on which homes are built and common facilities (lawn, pool, driveway, tennis courts) are shared. Community title gives ownership rights to each home and shared rights to common facilities.

 


Outline the features of company schemes, strata schemes and community schemes. 

Company Schemes is peculiar to home units. Under company schemes, a company owns freehold title to the land and the building erected on the land. Where as, strata title is the most common form of title for shared spaces, and has separate titles for each lot. Whilst community title also allows for ownership/separate titles for each lot, it includes shared space which the residents also have access to, such as a pool or lawn.


Common property

–     Common property is anything that is outside a single unit and is owned by more than one unit holder, including floors, walls, pipes and electrical wiring. The owners corporation has absolute control over any common property, which must be kept in a state of ‘good and serviceable repair’. If injury occrus, the injured person may sue the owners coporation for breach of duty.

  –    The owners  corporation ;

  • Each strata block has an owners corporation, which is made up of the owners of the strata title units. An executive committe will be elected from the owners and will include a chairperson, secretary and treasurer.
  • Duties of the owners corporation includes controlling and managing common property, maintaining and repairing common property, organising building and public liability insurance, conducting fire safety inspection, ensure levies are paid by unit owners, keep a roll and information based on owners, building and common property, organise annumal general meetings nad to keep records and accounts of all financial transactions. → The Strata Schemes Management Act 1996 (NSW) , attempts to anticipate problems and to implement rules and procedures to prevent problems from occuring, for instance it deals with noise, parking, behaviour in common areas and changes to the exterior of the property → to ensure peaceful coexistence in shared space. Whereby an owner/occupier is served with a notice, the Act, sets out steps to be followed in order to reach a resolution.

 

Leasing

  • A lease is an agreement between a landlord and a tenant that allows the tenant to occupy premises owned by the landlord in return for the payment of rent.
  • Goverened under the Residential Tenancies Act 1987 (NSW)
  • The lease must be read and signed by both aprties. Once signed the lease is a binding legal document, which aims toprotect both sides by creating security of tenure (conditions) for the tenant and security of income and property for the landlord.

 

Rights and obligations of landlords and tenants

–     The Residential Tenancies Act 1987 (NSW)         sets out the obligations of landlords and tenants towards each other, if either person breaks the agreement, they have defaulted and the lease may be terminated.

In a fixed term agreement, upon breaching a condition, after giving the tenant a notice of termination (for minimum 14 days) they can be evicted, and in reverse upon giving 14 days notice the tenant can end the agreement. In regards to continuous agreement upon default the tenant must be given 14 days minimum before being evicted, and the same 14 days applys if the landlord breaks a condition within the continuous agreement.

→ Eviction is one option available to landlords however there are strict rules about the power to evict, hence any action must be taken through the Consumer Trader and Tenancy Tribunal (CTTT) → a wrongfully evicted tenant can seek legal redress.

Protection for all parties

  • Common problems creating tension in an existing landlord-tenant relationship are non-payment for repairs, damage to the property, non payment of rent and discrimination. The Residential Tenancies Act 1987 anticipates some problems and stipulates responsibilities in order to avoid disputes between the parties.
  • Denyigna ccess to accommodation on te basis of prejudice is an offence under the Racial Discrimination Act 1975 (Cth) , the Sex Discrimination Act 1984 (Cth) and the NSW equal opportunity legislation ( Anti-Discrimination Act 1977 ), to discriminate on the grounds of gender, race, sexual preferences, status, ethnic background etc. Allegations of discriminationc can be brought before the Administrative Decisions Tribunal by any applicants who believe they have been denied tenancy because of discrimination → any proven act of discrimination will result in a fine and negative publicity for that landlord.
  • Boarders and lodgers pay rent for a room in a boarding house or at a private home, however such is not classified as tenancy and thus is not covered by the Resdental Tenancies Act, meaning there is no security or legislative protection against invasion of privacy, eviction or rent increases.

Securing other types of shelter

  • Separate dwellings and shared space are the most common types of shelter, however there are also aged care, residnetial parks and squats.
  • The federal governments Department of Health and Ageing oversees the care of the older members of our community in residential aged care facilitis. A Charter of Residents Rights and Responsibilities was developed which includes the rights of aged people and rules associated with aged care.

Residential parks

  • People owning a caravan are able to buy a license from the park owner, which gives the caravan owner the right to park on site and use the facilities. Where as if the caravan is fixed permanently to the site, then the relationship becomes one of landlord and tenant.
  • Protection of residents in a residential park has been an area of legislative reform in recent years. It used to be that those who rented a site had no legal protection.
  • The Residential Parks Act 1998 (NSW) , formalised the relationship between the park owner nad resident. The tenant is protected immediately upon signing the Residential Renancies Agreement, just as in any other type of accommodation

Squatter

  • A squatter is a person who lives in premises without the consent of the owner. Squatters have no legal rights and no legal protection. In fact squatters are committing an offence according to the Inclosed Lands Protection Act 1901 (NSW) , which states that it is illegal to ‘enter upon inclosed lands without consent from the owner’ and ‘it is illegal to remain upon inclosed lands after being requested to leave’.
  • Doctrine of adverse possession enables a squatter who has been living on premises in NSW for at least 12 years and where the owner has had no contact with the property during that time to claim title to the land.

Dispute resolution mechanisms

In the process of securing and living in shelter, many disputes can arise. There are roles for courts, tribunals, alternative dispute resolution, government organisations, non-government organisations and the media in enforcing the legal rights and educating the public.

 

The role of courts and tribunals

  • If when buying or selling property, one party fails to fulfil any of their obligaions, then the other party can sue for breach of contract. This is done before a court and the court can decide to force the reluctant party to fulfill promises made in the contract or to compensate the aggrieved party by giving them compensation.
  • Tribunals are less formal institutions and are therefore used extensively in dispute resolution for matters concerning shelter. Particularly, the Consumer, Trader and Tenancy Tribunal (CTTT) , plays an important role in settling disputes arising over shelter. Under its empowering Act, the tribunal encourages the use of alternative dispute resolution methods as the first step of resolving the issue, however if conciliation and mediation do not work, the tribunal will hear the matter and make decisions about how to end the dispute. Proceedings in the CTTT are usually conducted without legal representation and the informality of the hearing aims to put the parties at ease so that they can calmly and clearly discuss the situation. A decision by the CTTT is called an order and is legally binding. Appeals are onyl possible if there is an argument over an issue of law or whether or not the CTT had jurisdiction to hear the matter.

 

Alternative dispute resolution

  • Alternative dispute resolution is an attempt to resolve any issues that are causing a dispute before the matter goes to a hearing in a court or tribunal. There are twi different methods used.
  • Mediation is the process whereby the parties voluntarily choose to sit down together with an independent and neutral person acting as a mediator. If the parties reach an agreement they can agree to be bound by the terms of that agreement or can formalise it by applying to a court to makie it binding. This process can be faster, cheaper adn less stressful than going to a court or tribunal.
  • Neutral evaluation is similiar to mediation but differs in that the evaluator takes a more active role than a mediator. An evaluator usually analyses the issues, acting as a guide towards resolution of the dispute by assessing the strengths and weaknesses of each partys case.

 

Government organisations

  • The Office of Fair Tradings Home Building Service oversees and controls the quality of the building industry in NSW. It has a system of licensing builders, plumber, electricians nad other tradesperople so that the public can choose a worker who has a current contractor licence, and can check the status of the contractor on the NSW Fair Trading website. The contractor licence can also be used in advertising to promote the work as a suitably licenced tradesperson. Also the home building service takes complaints from the public about the standard of work and behaviour of a license worker. It will attempt to resolve the problem, by ordering the worker to recitfy the situation or by sending another builder to complete the work. If the complaint cannot be resolved it may be referred to the CTTT.
  • The NSW Department of Planning considers and enforces rules about the architerctual appearance of homes, the character of a street and the effect of a building on neighbours (a consequence of this system is that a home owner is not completely free to alter the home). In 2009 the Department of Planning created a new housing code to remedy the problem of long delays in approvals for building or renovations. Since, for some minor work for alterations and additions to homes categorised under ‘exempt development’, owners no longer require council approval.
  • The Rental Bond Board is an independant body administered by the NSW’s Office of Fair Trading. The role of the board is to hold a tenants bond for the period of the lease and to return it to the tenant at the end of the lease. The Board will return the bond if the premises are left in the condition in which they were found at the beginning of the lease, barring fair wear and tear.

Non-government organisations

  • NGO’s operate independently of governments and play a major role in shelter, especially the Salvation Army and the Wesley City Mission, which provide emergency housing assistance for those who find themselves without shelter.
  • The Tenants Union was formed in NSW to advise tenants of their rights and to help them if a disput with their landlord is brought before the CTTT.

 

The media

  • The media reports on numerous issues relating to shelter and the difficulties associated with obtaining shelter → creating awareness and pressuring governments to take action
  • Reports of poor building practice provide opportunities for people who have been wronged by builders to air their concerns in a public forum and thus apply pressure to builders.

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