In a move intended to simplify the dispute resolution process relating to neighbourhood disputes, the Hon. Michael O’Brien MP recently introduced into the Victorian Parliament the Company Titles (Home Units) Bill 2013 (Bill).

As the law currently stands, residents in company title and stratum title properties are forced to litigate their disputes that arise with their company title corporation or service company in Court. This should be contrasted with members of owners corporations who have access to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) to resolve their neighbourhood disputes.

The Bill, if passed, will overcome this apparent inconsistency and give residents in company title and stratum title similar access to VCAT to resolve neighbourhood matters that affect a company title corporation or a service company.

The Bill is currently being considered before Parliament and, if passed, will commence on or before 1 December 2013. Under the Bill:

What are neighbourhood disputes?

Neighbourhood disputes are defined to mean those matters concerning health, safety and security; residual land; units; design of residual land or units; behaviour of persons; dispute resolution; and notices and documents that affect a company title corporation or a service company.

Who can apply to VCAT?

A shareholder or former shareholder; a company title corporation; a service company; an occupier or former occupier of a unit that is part of land owned by a company title corporation; an occupier or former occupier of a unit in a building subdivision; a mortgagee of a unit in a building subdivision may apply to VCAT to resolve a neighbourhood dispute.

What orders can VCAT make?

VCAT is granted power to make any order it considers fair to resolve a neighbourhood dispute, save for any order which would alter a person’s shareholding in a company title corporation or service company, wind-up a company title corporation or service company, or alter the composition of the board of directors of a company title corporation or service company.

What are the kinds of disputes excluded from VCAT’s jurisdiction?

Specific kinds of disputes are excluded from VCAT’s jurisdiction, including disputes relating to the sale, transfer or forfeiture of shares in a company title corporation or service company; lease of a unit that is part of land owned by a company title corporation; license to use a unit that is part of land owned by a company title corporation; winding up of a company title corporation or service company and relief from oppression under the Corporations Act 2001 (Cth).