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NSW Review Sheds Light on Strata Sector Transparency

NSW Review Sheds Light on Strata Sector Transparency

The NSW state government has initiated a deep dive into the operations of a leading strata management firm.
This move underscores a growing tide of demand for increased clarity and fairness in the industry.
Responding to mounting public scrutiny, this investigation sets a new precedent in the regulation of property management entities.

An exposé by ABC triggered the closer examination of Sydney-based agency Netstrata, spotlighting the steep insurance brokerage fees imposed on property owners. Such revelations drew attention to the industry's standard practices, prompting a call for a systemic overhaul. Reports suggested that Netstrata, through its insurance division, levied charges reaching triple the average rate and received undisclosed benefits from service providers and contractors.

The agency, overseeing a portfolio including over a thousand buildings and some 35,000 units, reportedly accumulated upwards of $21 million in brokerage fees since 2015. Amidst this controversy, Stephen Brell, the agency's Managing Director, stepped down from his position as president of the Strata Community Association NSW.

In response to these events, NSW Fair Trading has teamed up with McGrathNicol, an independent consultancy, to scrutinize Netstrata's operations. Their investigation will unfold the intricacies of the firm's business model, meticulously reviewing internal structures, financial dealings, incentives, fees, and external partnerships. This action signals the government's resolve to ensure a credible strata management landscape.

Emphasizing the importance of trust in strata management, State Strata and Property Services Commissioner John Minns articulated the growing preference for strata living among NSW citizens, stressing the necessity for dependable stewardship of their valued assets. "Strata professionals must serve with integrity," Minns stated, echoing the urgency of nurturing consumer confidence. "NSW Fair Trading's determined response is a testament to our dedication to fostering a reliable and responsible strata sector."

While Netstrata defends the integrity of its procedures, the organization acknowledges the public's appetite for greater transparency. According to a statement, Netstrata is committed to exemplary service delivery and is actively conducting an internal review to enhance the clarity of its disclosure practices, promising to exceed current statutory disclosure standards. "Our commitment to transparency is unwavering; we pledge full cooperation with NSW Fair Trading in disclosing our financial operations," affirmed the agency.

Published:Monday, 6th May 2024
Source: Paige Estritori

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Professional indemnity:
An insurance that provides cover for liability incurred in the course of exercising a profession.