All strata schemes have a set of by-Laws (rules) that owners, occupiers and, in some cases, even visitors must follow. By-laws cover issues such as whether or not pets are permitted on the scheme, how smoking is regulated, parking, noise, and the conduct of residents and visitors. Compliance with these By-laws helps ensure that residents are able to live harmoniously in their shared community.
Current owners, residents, and tenants – If you do not have a copy, current owners and residents can ask the strata committee secretary or strata manager for a copy of the by-laws.
If you are a tenant, your real estate agent/landlord, or strata committee MUST give you a copy of the strata by-laws within seven days of signing the rental contract.
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Cosmetic work doesn’t need approval cosmetic work can’t change the outside of a property or affect things like structure and waterproofing.
Cosmetic Renovations include:
– Install or replace hooks, nails, or screws (for hanging paintings or other items on walls)
– Install or replace handrails
– Paint the interior
– Install or replace blinds and curtains
– Fill minor holes and cracks in internal walls
– Lay carpet
– Install or replace built-in wardrobes
This applies to all strata schemes. Your strata scheme can choose to add more types of work to the list of cosmetic work. The owner’s corporation can pass a by-law to do this.
Minor Renovations need approval, often this is from the strata committee.
Many schemes give approval power to the strata committee. Otherwise. approval will require a vote at a general meeting. Write to the strata manager or secretary and ask them to vote on your changes. You’ll need more than 50% of the votes cast in favour of the work at the meeting.
If the strata committee does not have the power to approve minor renovations, you’ll need to ask for approval at an annual general meeting (AGM) or an extraordinary general meeting (EGM).
Minor Renovations include:
– Renovate a kitchen, including flooring
– Change recessed light fittings
– Install or replace flooring systems, such as hardwood or tiles, as well as removing carpet to expose the flooring underneath
– Change internal walls
– Install or replace wiring, cabling, power, or access points
– Install a rainwater tank
– Install a clothesline
– Install a reverse-cycle air conditioner
– Install double or triple-glazed windows
– Install a heat pump
– Install ceiling insulation.
This applies to all strata schemes. Your owner’s corporation can choose to pass a by-law to add other types of work to the list of minor renovations.
Minor renovations can’t involve:
– Structural changes or changes to a property’s outside appearance.
– Anything affecting waterproofing (for example, most bathroom renovations).
Before you get approval, you may also need to show your strata committee:
– Plans of the work, including dates and times of when the work will be done.
– An acoustic certificate to show sound insulation if you’re installing flooring.
– Qualifications and details of the tradespeople who will do the work.
Major Renovations include:
– Structural changes (for example, moving a structural internal wall)
– Waterproofing (for example bathrooms)
– Changes affecting the outside appearance of the property, such as an access ramp
– Work that needs approval under other laws (for example, council approval)
– Changes to the ceiling or making a false ceiling.
Approval For Major Renovations
Major Renovations need a special resolution vote at an annual general meeting (AGM) or other general meetings. This means no more than 25% of the votes cast are against it, based on unit entitlement.
The strata committee can’t approve major renovations.
Speeding Up The Approval Process
– The owner’s corporation can pass a by-law that allows the strata committee to approve minor renovations.
– The owner’s corporation can also pass a by-law to define other kinds of work as minor renovations.
– An owner or occupier of a lot must notify the owner’s corporation at least 14 days before changing any of the floor coverings or surfaces of the lot if the change is likely to result in an increase in noise transmitted from that lot to any other lot. The notice must specify the type of the proposed floor covering or surface.
– When hiring our staff, labourers, team, company, and any other associated company or affiliated party of Carpet Removal Sydney you MUST notify all residents in your unit block 7-14 days prior to the job starting, as well as put up a notice on the notice board of what work is being carried out and what hours as well as to alert them that the noise WILL BE LOUD.
Floor Coverings And Loud Transmission
– An owner of a lot must ensure that all floor space within the lot is covered or otherwise treated to an extent sufficient to prevent the transmission from the floor space of noise likely to disturb the peaceful enjoyment of the owner or occupier of another lot.
– This by-law does not apply to floor space comprising a kitchen, laundry, lavatory, or bathroom.
If your work changes the structure of a lot (for example, removing a wall or installing ducted air conditioning), you must also give the owner’s corporation at least 14 days written notice before the work starts.
Your notice should describe how your renovations will change the property structure.
Renovations And Common Property Rights
If you want to make a renovation that affects the common property, the responsibility for maintaining that part of the property may be transferred to you. This is decided by the owner’s corporation and will usually depend on how much your renovations affect the common property.
The owner’s corporation would need to approve giving you the job of maintaining it. Before it does so, you must agree to the rule. This means you agree that you will maintain the common property. The details for this responsibility will be in the by-law.
You should keep this in mind when you plan on seeking renovations that will have a big impact on common property.
If an owner needs to use part of the common property, like attaching an air conditioning unit to a common property wall, they must get approval through a common property rights by-law.
The common property by-law must state who is responsible for maintaining the common property. This responsibility would either:
– Stay with the owner’s corporation, or
– Go to an owner or owners.
Before the by-law can be passed, the lot owner or owners must first:
– Agree to the by-law.
– Consent to maintain the common property (if the by-law includes this).
The law contained in the NSW Strata Scheme Management Regulations 2010: Model Bylaws # 14 & 15 referring to floor coverings requires that you must cover the floor of your lot (or treat it sufficiently) to stop any noise which may disturb another resident. This does not apply to the kitchen, laundry, toilet, or bathroom.
That particular law doesn’t specifically require you to seek permission to install the flooring system, however, after the installation, it’s found that any noise transmitting from your lot (due to the new flooring system), disturbs your neighbours. You may be required (by an NSW Civil & Administrative Tribunal order) to remove or cover the new flooring system to stop the noise affecting others living in your Strata Scheme. The use of the highest-grade, soundproofing underlay possible, will help avoid any conflict after the installation.
When can by-laws be changed?
An owner’s corporation can add, remove or change current by-laws with a vote at a general meeting. Approval of a by-law change will depend on the proportion of votes cast. If the votes against are 25% or less, the change will pass.
Breaches of by-laws
If you breach (break) a by-law, the owner’s corporation can follow these steps to ensure to deal with it.
The owner’s corporation or strata committee may first choose to talk to you about the by-law and ask you to stop.
2) Issue of Notice
The owner’s corporation can hold a general meeting and vote to issue you notice of breaking a by-law. Through a majority vote, you can be given a notice to comply, which asks you to stop breaking the rules or risk being fined through the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal (the Tribunal).
The notice can be sent via post or email and needs to include the details of the by-law that was broken. The owner’s corporation may allow the strata committee or strata manager to give notices to them. If this is the case, a notice to comply can be given without holding a general meeting.
If you continue to break the rules, the owner’s corporation can contact NSW Fair Trading for mediation. Mediation is a free service that helps residents, owners, and owners of corporations solve issues.
4) The Tribunal
If the issue can’t be resolved by mediation, the owner’s corporation can ask the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal to decide whether a by-law has been broken. The Tribunal can issue fines of up to $1,100.
5) If The Breach Continues
If you continue to break the rule, the owner’s corporation can apply to the Tribunal again. The Tribunal can issue another fine, this time up to $2,200. The owner’s corporation does not have to give you another notice before contacting the Tribunal again. If you do not follow an order that the Tribunal has given you, you can also be fined up to $5,500.
Restrictions on by-laws?
– Conflict with existing laws
– Be ‘harsh, unconscionable or oppressive
– Stop someone from selling or leasing their lot (except in some cases of short-term rental accommodation)
– Ban children
– Stop someone from having an assistance animal
How to get a copy of the by-laws
1) Current owners, residents, and tenants
Most people will receive a copy of the by-laws when they move into the scheme. If you do not have a copy, current owners and residents can ask the strata committee secretary or strata manager for a copy of the by-laws.
If you are a tenant, your real estate agent/landlord must give you a copy of the by-laws within seven days of signing the rental contract. They must also provide a new copy whenever the by-laws change.
2) Potential owners
Potential owners will usually get a copy of the by-laws when they get a strata report or if they ask the seller’s real estate agent for a copy. Getting a strata report will come with a fee. The by-laws must also be included in the contract for the sale of land.
By-laws must be registered with NSW Land Registry Serviceslaunch (NSW LRS). Anyone can access a copy of the by-laws from LRS for a fee.
Who is responsible for strata repairs?
Usually, the owner’s corporation repairs common property and each owner repairs anything within their property. To check who should make a repair, look at your strata plan and by-laws. To get a copy of these, contact your strata committee secretary or strata manager.
In most cases, this is who’s responsible for common repairs:
Owners Corporation is responsible for:
– Roofs and gutters
– Ceiling, unless the problem is with changes the owner has made
– Boundary walls
– Carpets in common property (such as hallways)
– Lights in common property
– Any lights recessed into the ceiling
– Garage doors
– Balconies and balcony doors
– Windows and window locks
– Plumbing in boundary walls and under the floor
– Water damage coming from common property
Home Owners are responsible for:
– Changes you made to the ceiling
– Internal walls
– Carpet in your property
– Internal painting or wallpapering
– Lights that protrude or hang into your property
– Window cleaning, unless you can’t access it (for example, if it is too high)
– Plumbing in internal walls and fixtures (such as baths, toilets, sinks, and showers)
– Water damage coming from inside your property
Issues between strata owners or residents can happen from time to time. They can also happen between owners/residents and the owner’s corporation.
If you are not able to resolve issues, there are steps you can follow:
1) Talk About It
2) Speak to the owner’s corporation
3) Use Fair Trading’s mediation service
4) Go to the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal
How To Get Repairs Done
If you see a common property that needs repair, tell your strata manager or strata committee. You can also contact them if you think they need to make a repair on your property. They will get the repair done, or tell you if you must do it yourself. If you are a renter, contact your landlord.
If major repairs are needed, the owner’s corporation may have to meet to decide what to do. This may include a ‘special levy’ to cover the cost of the work.
For an emergency repair, contact your strata manager, building manager, or strata committee secretary. An example is if a burst water main floods your property.
Sometimes, you may call an emergency tradesperson. You might do this if it is outside business hours (or you can’t reach the strata manager, building manager, or secretary on the strata committee). Then you can ask to get the money back from the owner’s corporation.
To get your money back, you might need to show it was right for you to call the tradesperson. Ask the tradesperson to give you written details explaining the problem and what was done to fix it.
Some strata managers have a list of emergency tradespeople you can use on their website.
For any repairs, you should contact your real estate agent or landlord. They can arrange the repair for you. If it is outside business hours (or you are unable to reach them), check your agreement to see what repairs are judged as an ‘urgent repair’ and if the agreement lists any nominated repairers.
You may be able to call an emergency tradesperson and recover the money from your landlord.
What If The Repair Isn’t Fixed?
If the owner’s corporation does not make a repair, you can submit a ‘motion’ to ask for it. This will go on the agenda of the next owner’s corporation meeting.
A ‘motion’ is a request to discuss something at a meeting. Learn how to submit a motion in Strata Meetings.
If the owner’s corporation refuses to make a repair, consider asking for mediation offered by NSW Fair Trading. Mediation is a free service. It helps solve disagreements between owners and the owner’s corporation.
Noise In Strata
You have the right to live peacefully in your home. Most noise problems can be solved by speaking to the resident. Otherwise, contact the strata committee to find out your options.
– People can have different opinions about what noise is acceptable, and what isn’t.
– Check your strata by-laws, which will outline what noise is acceptable. Your local council will also have rules.
– If you’re having an issue with noise, speak to the resident to see if they can fix it. If they can’t or won’t fix it, ask the owner’s corporation for help.
– If the issue is still not fixed, you and the owner’s corporation can use an internal or external resolution process.
– The resolution process may include using a mediation service.
What Kind Of Noise Is Acceptable
People can have different opinions about noise that is acceptable, and how long it can last before it becomes an issue.
Common noise complaints include barking dogs, power tools, loud music, alarms, construction, and noisy cars.
Your local council will have rules about what noise is acceptable and at what time(s). Contact your local council or check their website to find out what rules apply in your area.
What To Do About A Noisy Neighbour
Speak to the resident
If you have a problem with noise and know who is making it, have a friendly conversation with them to let them know it is bothering you. You might find that your neighbour is not aware they are disturbing you.
You should give your neighbour a chance to fix the issue or to discuss with you what can be done. Not all noises will be breaking the rules. Your neighbour might not need to stop making the noise. However, they should still consider your complaint.
Check your local council rules and strata by-laws to find out if noise rules are being broken.
Use the internal resolution process
If you still cannot resolve the noise issue, you may want to use the internal resolution process (if there is one). Contact a member of the strata committee or the strata manager to get information about what your scheme’s dispute resolution process involves.
Contact the owner’s corporation
If you don’t know where the noise is coming from, or talking to the resident doesn’t solve the issue, speak or write to the strata manager or the secretary of the owner’s corporation. If you are a tenant, contact your landlord or leasing agent, who can raise the complaint for you.
The strata committee or strata managing agent will investigate whether the noise breaks by-laws. If they find the by-laws are being broken, they can issue the resident a ‘notice to comply’, if they have delegation to do so.
The notice to comply will warn the resident that further noise issues may be taken to the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal.
Use this form to issue a Notice to comply with a by-law:
Notice to Comply (PDF 270.08KB)
If your scheme does not have an internal resolution process, or it does not help, any party in the dispute can contact NSW Fair Trading. NSW Fair Trading provides a free mediation service, which helps to solve problems between strata residents, owners, and managers.
LAST UPDATED: 08/08/2023
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