New Legislation—The 10 Biggest changes
The new legislation, which came into effect on the 30th November, 2016 has been designed to help Strata Dwellers live a more harmonious life. There are always difficulties when something new is being implemented, but please contact your Strata Manager with any questions that you may have. We’re here to help you through the complexities of the changes.
Commonly Used Strata Terminology
There are some changes to the terminology used in Strata that every owner should be aware of to survive the transition into the strata of the future.
Listed below are the major changes to terminology that came into effect on the 30th November, 2016.
|Sinking Fund||Capital Works Fund|
|Sinking Fund Forecast||Capital Works Forecast|
|Exclusive use and special privilege by-laws||Common property rights by-laws|
|Executive Committee||Strata Committee|
|Section 108 Certificate||Section 182 Certificate (Strata Search Certificate)|
|Section 109 Notice||Section 184 Strata Information Certificate|
Click on the + (below) to get more details on the topics listed
PETS IN STRATA
The new changes to the legislation do not remove the scheme’s ability to make its own rules on pets in strata complexes, but what they will do is ensure that a request to keep a pet is not “unreasonably refused”.
Owners who believe their request has been unreasonably refused will be able to take their case to the Tribunal, where each case will be considered on its merits.
Keep in mind that this does not include the keeping of assistance animals like hearing and guide dogs – which are permitted, although evidence may be required to prove that the animal is an assistance animal.
PARKING ON COMMON PROPERTY
There are more options for an owners corporation to control the problem of unauthorized parking.
Owners Corporations can now reach an agreement with their Local Council to manage “unauthorized parking” on certain areas of the property.
This would allow council parking officers to enter the property and issue fines which could go a long way to help deal with some parking disputes.
Under the new legislation a By-Law must not be harsh, unconscionable or oppressive. Some of the existing By-Laws for some schemes would not pass this test and there’s now an obligation for By-Laws to be reviewed.
Existing owners corporations must review its By-Laws within 12 months from 30th November, 2016.
This ‘grace period’ provides enough time to consider whether the currently registered by-laws are still appropriate or whether they need to be updated to suit the current requirements of the owners corporation.
Nuisance or hazardous smoke is recognised under the current laws but will be strengthened by allowing an owners corporation to adopt a by-law dealing with smoking that intrudes into the common property or another person’s lot.
Overcrowding in a unit can pose significant health and safety risks along with increases in noise, parking problems and a strain on facilities.
The new laws allow for an owners corporation, through a by-law, to limit the number of people who can live in a lot.
Larger families will not be discriminated against as there are certain exclusions for related persons.
This by-law cannot be inconsistent with any planning approval or other laws that apply.
VOTING & PROXY FARMING
To enable an easier voting process electronic voting has been introduced.
The owners corporation must decide, at a general meeting, the method of voting that’s to be used.
There will be a limit to the number of proxy votes that can be held by an individual—for a scheme that has less than 20 lots, it’s 1 proxy only.
For schemes with 20 or more lots, it becomes 5% of the total lots.
See the table below for more detailed information.
Maximum number of proxies that can be held by 1 person:
|Number of Units||Number of Proxies|
|1 – 39||1|
|40 – 59||2|
|60 – 79||3|
|80 – 99||4|
Tenants under the new laws will have the right to attend an owners corporation meeting, no matter how many of the lots in the scheme are tenanted.
If more than 50% of the lots are tenanted, the tenants can elect a tenant representative, who can attend owners corporation meetings and be on the Strata Committee (previously Executive Committee).
Tenants may only vote if they hold a proxy giving them voting rights on behalf of a lot owner.
Tenants may be excluded from a meeting where financial issues or certain other issues are discussed.
Current strata laws make it difficult for owners to make minor renovations to their lot.
A clearer, more common sense approach will mean that some minor cosmetic changes like installing blinds or hanging curtains or hanging a picture or coat hook can go ahead without approval, whereas “minor renovations” with a lasting impact, such as installing floorboards, renovating a kitchen or reconfiguring a wall will still require approval at a general meeting.
Renovations like those that affect the structure or external appearance of the building, or involve waterproofing, will still require a special resolution at a general meeting.
REMEMBER: It’s important to always make sure you obtain the right approval before you commence ANY works.
There is a higher level of accountability when the developer sets the levies in new developments.
At the First Annual General Meeting, the developer must provide an Initial Maintenance Schedule which has to be taken into account in the budget.
If a developer sets unrealistic low levies at the time of sale of the units, then the owners corporation may be able to pursue the developer for compensation through the Tribunal.
And, if the levies are later on found to be far too low, the owners corporation can then apply to the Tribunal for an order to provide compensation.
Want even more detailed information?
The above information gives you a ‘thumbnail sketch’ of what the main changes are all about, but the NSW Fair Trading Department has put together a terrific site that goes into much more detail.
So head on over there by following this link: New Era in Strata.
Everything you need to know is in there somewhere.