Legal Insights

Legislative update: Electronic signing, changes to OC laws and the end to rent relief scheme

By David Hartney & Athina McGregor

• 17 December 2021 • 3 min read
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Legislative update:

  • Electronic signing
  • Changes to the Owners Corporations laws come into effect
  • Rent relief schemes for commercial tenants in Victoria and New South Wales – soon to end

Electronic signing

Companies

Proposed new Federal legislation will, if passed, make permanent laws allowing for documents to be signed electronically by companies, provided certain formalities are met. Until now, there has only been temporary legislation about this.

The proposed new legislation is the Corporations Amendment (Meetings and Documents) Bill 2021 (Cth) (The Bill). The Bill will modernise the process for companies holding meetings and executing documents. It will permanently allow Australian companies to sign documents electronically by:

  • two directors or by a director and the company secretary
  • split execution (different signatures on different counterparts)
  • an individual appointed by the company.

This extends to deeds, not just agreements, including contracts of sale, leases, deeds of cancellation and deeds of variation.

The Bill won’t be passed this calendar year. However, we hope that the new Bill will be passed and come into effect before the temporary measures end on 31 March 2022.

Owners corporations laws just changed

Significant changes to the Owners Corporations Act 2006 (Vic) came into effect on 1 December 2021. They were made by the Owners Corporations and Other Acts Amendment Act 2021 (Vic). Some of the main changes include:

  1. certain contracts that relate to owners corporations and benefit the applicant for registration of the plan of subdivision are limited to 3 years
  2. certain terms are prohibited from inclusion in contracts of appointment of managers of owners corporations
  3. new requirements for the first meeting of the owners corporation
  4. new five tier system of owners corporations.

Also, modifications were made to the execution requirements for owners corporations. In some circumstances, owners corporations won’t need to use a common seal.

For more information, see our previous article.

The changes add further layers of complexity, and developers need to understand the impacts of the changes on their duties to the owners corporations they create.

Our team can help you steer through the legal risks and requirements.

Soon to end – Rent relief schemes for commercial tenants in Victoria and New South Wales

The various States and Territories introduced temporary schemes protecting commercial tenants when the COVID-19 pandemic first hit last year. A few months ago, both Victoria and New South Wales reintroduced rent relief schemes. Broadly speaking, the schemes operate in a similar way to those introduced last year. For details of the reintroduced schemes, see our previous article.

Both schemes are due to end soon. The New South Wales scheme ends on 13 January 2022 and the Victorian scheme ends on 15 January 2022. This means that tenants will not be entitled to rent relief beyond those dates, and landlords will once again be able to undertake rent reviews.

Looking for more information on electronic signing, OC laws or rent relief schemes?

Contact our Development team

By David Hartney & Athina McGregor

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