Your Home No Longer Your Castle Under Looming Laws
There’s been a long-standing notion that your home is your castle. It held not just in tradition and British law, but was firmly established in the popular Australian legal movie The Castle.
It’s embedded in our culture that if you do the right thing, build your slice of the Aussie dream in a little bit of paradise you call your own, you are safe as houses. You can’t be touched.
Unless of course the government wants to build a highway through your home in which case you have no choice but to sell it to them – at a price their valuer sets.
And unless a miner finds something interesting under your home in which case they can dig it out and you don’t get a cent.
But under laws now under discussion, if you live in an apartment in NSW operating under strata title you could be forced to sell if a developer wants to knock down your building.
NSW Fair Trading Minister Anthony Roberts has put out a discussion paper that foreshadows wide-ranging changes to the way people live under strata title.
One of the key changes would allow a majority of apartment owners who want to sell their building to a developer to force the minority who want to stay to sell up. At the moment just one owner refusing to sell can stop the whole deal.
Proponents argue this change would enable crumbling, dilapidated apartment blocks to be knocked down and something new and better put up in their place. But it would also force out poorer residents who can’t afford to buy elsewhere and those who simply love where they live and don’t want to move.
While the government’s discussion paper is full of words like “urban renewal” and “cutting red tape” it’s short on detail. It’s unclear what protections there should be for the vulnerable owner who just doesn’t want to sell. Can a developer start buying up apartments until they own enough to force the others to sell? Will the tipping point for forcing a sale be 75 per cent of owners or 95 per cent?
You can contribute to the discussion paper until November 15.
It will be interesting to see what legal avenues for the likes of the Kerrigans from The Castle will be available under the new laws. It’s certainly wise to get legal advice when you buy a new home, especially if it’s off-the-plan, to ensure the developer gives you what you paid for. Maybe it’s time for The Castle II with the Kerrigans fighting to stay in their apartment.