The increase in high-density living, and related potential for disputes over strata title issues, has prompted a Perth pair to open a new business focused solely on strata rules and their application.

Real estate professionals Peter Munday and Kareena Ballard have started Stratacentre, a business they say is the first of its kind in Western Australia, to provide training, advice, information, and mediation services.

Mr Munday said there were currently 47,000 strata properties in Western Australia, with 40,000 of those being small complexes consisting of two to five units.

“Very often, owners and tenants may not know their rights and responsibilities, nor the difference in the role of a property manager, strata council and strata company,” Mr Munday told WA Business News.

“If people have questions, there is really nowhere for them to go to obtain definitive advice on management issues. Neither the Department of Land Information nor the Department of Consumer and Employment Protection is geared to give that advice, and it is often difficult to untangle titles advice from management advice.”

The education of property managers, strata managers and sales representatives was important, as was provision of information to the public about strata titles, he said.

“Through information seminars, consultations and newsletters we aim to provide the knowledge and expertise that will give peace of mind, enhance neighbourly relationships, protect assets, and help investments appreciate,” Mr Munday said.

“For industry professionals, the eduction and training available will reduce risk liability, increase professio-nalism, enhance service to clients and provide an avenue for mediation.”

Atkinson and Associates legal director, and past president of the Strata Titles Institute of Western Australia, Mark Atkinson, said Stratacentre would provide significant opportunities for education in the area of strata.

“Another key issue is that the Strata Titles Act has not been reformed after numerous reports calling for it,” Mr Atkinson said.

“There is inadequate training, regulation and understanding of what strata managers do.”

The risk to the public and the concerns the public has about strata will only grow as the amount of strata titles do, he added.

“The current act suffers from poor drafting, and parts of it are based on NSW legislation from the 1960s, and it applies to a much wider variety of properties than was originally thought of – high rise, tourism, farms, and viticulture,” Mr Atkinson said.

He said while there had not been a crisis in the industry yet, there was nothing to prevent “not-so-competent operators” entering the business.

Regulating managers would ensure that proprietors’ funds were protected, Mr Atkinson said.