Wednesday, March 9, 2011

New law puts power in hands of apartment owners -

Apartment owners are to take control of their own blocks and common areas under a new law.

The law, which comes into effect next month, means developers currently controlling common areas -- including car parks, gardens and bin areas -- will be given six months from April to sign them over to private companies run by the owners.

The developers will also have to pay for the setting up of management companies while owners will also have more say in how annual service charges are set.

For example, owners will be entitled to a list of all of the charges and will vote on whether they are fair and acceptable.

The developer will also have to pay the cost of service charges for units that have not been sold.

The law, the Multi-Unit Development Act 2011, also provides that the service charge cannot be used to pay expenses that are the responsibility of the developer unless 75pc of the owners agree at a meeting.

There are more than 500,000 people living in apartment blocks and townhouse developments, mainly in the capital.


And the new law brings legislation up to date to reflect the growth in apartment blocks over the past decade.

Other provisions include the establishment of a special fund for unforeseen maintenance of these areas that will be paid for by the owners and held by the property company.

In the case of existing developments, this fund must be set up within 18 months of these regulations coming into effect.

And with new developments, the fund must be set up within three years of the sale of the first unit.

The management company must also take over ownership of the common areas in a new development before a unit can be sold.

The new law also allows for fairer representation of owners in property management companies.

Each owner of an apartment or townhouse will have one vote when these companies are making decisions.

The management company will have the responsibility to set house rules for the development.

The move was welcomed yesterday. "It empowers individual owners of multi-unit properties to enforce the rights and obligations created by the legislation in the Circuit Court or resolve disputes by mediation,"said Paul McCutcheon, a property partner at LK Shields.

- Ailish O'Hora

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