2016 Summer Edition | Strata Community Australia (NSW)
Strata Myths Busted
MYTH: Owners corporations must meet right away to decide their new by-laws
FACT: By-laws passed by the owners corporation and registered remain valid after 30 November 2016 until removed or amended by the owners corporation. Owners must review their rules by 30 November 2017.
MYTH: Strata buildings cannot ban pets
FACT: It is up to each strata scheme, through the owners corporation that all owners belong to, to decide which updates they want to make to their by-laws, if any. So, the owners decide if they wish to keep or change their existing pet rule. To change a by-law, the owners corporation needs to pass a special resolution (ie. 75% of the owners at a meeting voting in favour). There are model by-laws, which are a guide for strata schemes only. These provide options, including rules on pets, for strata schemes to consider. Owners are always allowed to have assistance animals, such as guide dogs. Tenants still need the landlord’s permission (although, the landlord cannot accept a pet if their strata scheme does not allow the pet).
MYTH: Smoking is banned
FACT: Smoking is not banned in all strata schemes. However, occupants must not create a nuisance or hazard or stop others enjoying the strata complex. If smoking is offending someone, the smoker could be taken to the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal and penalised. Also, the model by-laws include options for rules that would further restrict smoking. Owners corporations may adopt such rules or develop their own by-law that places restrictions on smoking.
MYTH: Tenants can vote at owners corporation meetings
FACT: From 30 November 2016, tenants who are registered with the owners corporation by their landlord will have the right to attend and be notified of upcoming meetings. It is an offence for a landlord not to register a tenant with the owners corporation. The owners corporation may agree to tenants speaking on a particular matter. However, a tenant may only vote if they hold a proxy to vote on a lot owner’s behalf. In schemes where a least half of the lots are tenanted, a non-voting tenant representative can be nominated as a member of the strata committee after being elected by the tenants. The tenant representative is entitled to receive agendas and minutes of meetings. They can be excluded when certain financial issues are to be discussed (e.g. collective sales). Their involvement can be helpful as tenants can identify issues, for example, repairs to fix water leaks affecting common property.
MYTH: If most of the owners want to sell their apartment I’ll be forced to leave my apartment at any time
FACT: For the collective sale of a strata scheme to be considered there are several stages that the owners will need to follow before any proposal to sell the strata block can be put to a vote. This includes owners being given at least 60 days to consider the proposal and to seek independent advice. Under the proposal, all owners must receive at least market value plus other costs, such as moving costs, and compensation for inconvenience for their property. At least 75% of owners must then agree to collectively sell their scheme for redevelopment and any plans must be submitted to the Land and Environment Court for final approval (and the Court may reject the plan or require certain conditions be met).
Please Note – The information contained in this article is general information only and not legal advice. The currency, accuracy and completeness of this article (and its contents) should be checked by obtaining independent legal advice before you take any action or otherwise rely upon its contents in any way.