Another DoJ update

Published on: Apr 5, 2010

We met with the kind folks in the department of Justice again this week but it’s been such a hectic week you’ve had to wait till now for the update (sorry folks). The architects association (RIAI), managing agents association (IPFMA) and two representatives from the developers (IHBA) were also there so it was a vigorous debate (to use the words of feuding people everywhere).

The summary of the changes in the latest draft are:

  • houses in managed estates are now covered by the bill.
  • apartments in mixed-use estates are now covered by the bill (with a bit of a fudge on voting).
  • the dispute resolution process has been extended and given more powers. This should mean less trips to the court but it’s supervised by the court so it’s got some teeth.
  • the list of documents to be handed over by the developer has been improved. This should make life easier for the management company and managing agents. There have been many times where the company/agent have no idea where underground services are, how often machinery should be serviced or how long it should last.
  • with the exception of mixed-use developments, the voting will be one per unit. There was some confusion about this before. It’s still an area of contention for us so we’ll be bringing it back up.

There are still a lot of things that we want changed or that the department haven’t reached a final decision on:

  • court jurisdiction for debt collection may be moved to district from circuit to speed things up and reduce the legal costs
  • currently jurisdiction lies with both the circuit and high court. This may change to just the circuit court but people can appeal to the high court.
  • it was suggested that owners should be able to challenge house rules to the circuit court to prevent the majority setting unfair rules. This probably won’t happen because it could mean the management company would be challenged every time they try to enforce the rules that the owners have voted.
  • The issue of mandatory address registration for landlords is a thorny one but one that they’re still looking at. This is important because it can be hard for a management company to find a landlord and start legal proceedings if they haven’t paid their service charge.

The biggest issue we discussed was the completion by developer and the 5% retention that the LRC suggestion. This is a powerful stick for owners to beat the developer with if the estate isn’t properly completed.

The bill now allows a court to direct the developer to complete but it was agreed that without a financial imperative, it might not be useful. It also doesn’t help if the developer cannot afford to complete or has gone out of business. The DoJ have some serious concerns about the retention so we’ll be discussing alternatives before our next meeting.

Thanks everyone for your input last week. If we didn’t get a chance to bring it up at the meeting, we’ll send it directly to the department very soon.

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