From July 2016, new strata laws are set to come into effect, with implications for residents of strata apartments and building complexes; as well as property developers in NSW.
The laws represent the first major reform to strata laws since the Strata Titles Act was implemented in 1973. More than 90 proposed reforms will come into effect, modernising the existing laws.
Below is an overview of the most significant changes that could affect you as a resident of a strata managed property:
- Owners corporations may enter into agreements with local Council to enforce a strata parking area on common property and enforce penalties
- Owners may perform ‘cosmetic work’ without the approval of the owners corporation. This includes installing/replacing picture hooks, laying carpet, painting and installing/replacing wardrobes, curtains or blinds.
- Owners may carry out ‘minor renovations’ with the approval of the owners corporation at a general meeting. This includes renovating a kitchen, installing wooden or hard floors, installing/replacing wiring or power points, and the reconfiguration of non-structural walls.
- Any work that involves structural changes, changes to the building’s external appearance, or involving waterproofing requires the owners corporation’s approval by means of a special resolution.
- Under new rules, only 75% of owners will need to be in agreement, for the collective sale or renewal of their strata scheme to proceed. Previously, 100% of owners must have agreed.
- This exposes some owners to the potential for forced or pressured sale of their property. A hotline will be established to assist elderly & vulnerable owners.
- A minimum compensation value, plus moving costs, will be required, however this may not equate to a real market value achieved by voluntary sale. We recommend that concerned owners consult their property law solicitor. In coming months, we will address strata renewals as a separate article with further information for concerned owners.
- Voting may take place over Skype or teleconference if agreed by the owners corporation, or other means, if the owners corporation agree. The owners corporation may conduct meetings, without requiring people being physically present to vote.
- Voting may be conducted by secret ballot.
- For the purpose of serving notices, the strata roll may include an email address as the owner’s address.
- By laws may limit the number of adults residing in a lot, however the minimum must be at least 2 persons per bedroom.
- Under model by laws, there would be no automatic ban on keeping pets and requests for keeping small pets should not be unreasonably refused, particularly when the pet is being kept indoors. Assistance animals cannot be banned under the model by laws.
- The new Act recognises that smoking can be a nuisance or hazardous. A smoker may be banned from allowing smoke to drift into common property or another owner’s lot. This ban could be enforced by the owners corporation who may ultimately seek an order in the Tribunal.
- Penalties of up to $1100 may be imposed by the Tribunal where a person commits a breach after being given a notice to comply with a by-law. Penalties would be payable to the owners corporation, and if a second breach of the same by-law occurs within 12 months, higher penalties may be imposed of up to $2200.