Seemingly without warning, as of 1 July 2020 section 125 of Strata Schemes Management Act 2015 and clauses 32 to 34 of the Strata Schemes Management Regulations 2016 which regulated the disposal of abandoned goods on common property were repealed.
The legislation that now governs goods abandoned on common property is the Uncollected Goods Act 1995 (Act). Relevantly, section 5(2)(e) of the Act provides that goods are uncollected goods if an owners corporation reasonably believes the goods have been abandoned or left behind on common property. Where there is no agreement between the owner of the goods and the owners corporation for the disposal of the goods the Act is available for the disposal of uncollected goods.
Section 7 of the Act means that an owners corporation will not incur any liability in respect of the disposal of uncollected goods in accordance with the Act or in accordance with an order of the Tribunal.
The Act divides uncollected goods into five categories:
- low value uncollected goods (goods with a value of less than $1,000),
- medium value uncollected goods (goods with a value equal to or more than $1,000 but less than $20,000),
- high value uncollected goods (goods with a value of at least $20,000),
- personal documents, and
- perishable goods and rubbish.
In respect of low value uncollected goods, medium value uncollected goods and personal documents, sections 19, 20 and 22A respectively of the Act sets out the process and notice requirements before the goods can be disposed of and how the goods may be moved, stored or disposed of.
Under section 22 of the Act high value uncollected goods can only be disposed of in accordance with an order of the Tribunal. The goods may be moved or stored in an appropriate manner.
No notice is required for perishable goods and rubbish and they may be disposed of in such manner as the owner corporation considers appropriate.
Section 31 of the Act sets out an additional requirement where a motor vehicle is being sold pursuant to that Act, that is a person must not sell a motor vehicle under the relevant part of the Act unless the Commissioner of Police has issued the person with a certificate to the effect that the motor vehicle is not for the time being recorded as being stolen and the person has obtained a written search result in relation to the vehicle.
Should an owners corporation have uncollected goods that it wishes to dispose of we recommend that it seeks legal advice as to the category of the goods and the process that needs to be followed.
Article authors: Jasmin H. Singh and Allison Benson