Northern NSW has amongst the highest rates of strata living outside of Sydney*.

Due to the increasing numbers of people living in strata buildings, a free service has been established to help owner-occupiers with the legal problems involved.

The two Sydney-based solicitors take calls from anywhere in the state – and have been giving information sessions around Newcastle and the Central, Mid- and North Coasts of NSW.

"We get a range of queries, from how to get repairs or renovations done and what to do if the property is considering collective sales, through to what to do when you receive a penalty notice for breach of by-law - for example for pets, or noise," says Jake Edwards, from the Strata Collective Sales Advocacy Service, pictured at right below.

The Service has a particular focus on recent changes to strata law, but it can take general queries. It gets a lot of calls relating to special levies.

“Special levies can push people into debt,” says Mr Edwards. “Often owner-occupiers can’t come up with large sums of money at relatively short notice like that. 

“Sometimes investors want to spend money on improving the common property in a strata scheme, like gardens and foyers, when owner-occupiers might not have the budget for this.”

Strata is the fastest growing form of residential property ownership in Australia.

“Over half the new dwellings to be built in our metropolitan areas over the next decades will be strata titled,” says solicitor Justin Abi-Daher, pictured at left below.

“Our service has been inundated by queries because strata affects the way people live, where they live and their budgets,” he says.

The latest figures, released in December 2015, show that outside of the Sydney metropolitan area, Wollongong LGA had the highest number of residential strata lots in NSW (16,303), followed by Newcastle (12,373) and the Tweed (12,068). Port Macquarie came in at number four with 6,395 lots and Coffs Harbour came in at number five with 6,254 lots.

The Service can be reached on (02) 9559 2899.

*Strata Data Report (2015), City Futures Research Centre, UNSW