Frequently Asked Questions
I want to renovate my unit and the owners corporation’s strata managing agent or executive committee has directed me to obtain a by-law. Do I need a strata by-law?
The starting point is to understand the effect of By-law 5 of the model strata by-laws in Schedule 1 of the Strata Schemes Management Act 1996 (“the Act”).
By-law 5 prevents an owner or occupier of a unit from marking, painting, driving nails or screws or the like into, or otherwise damaging or defacing any structure that forms part of the common property without the written approval of the owners corporation first being obtained.
Accordingly, if the renovations are of a “minor” nature e.g. affixing nails or screws into walls to hang pictures or cupboards, the owner or occupier does not need a strata by-law but will need the owners corporation’s prior written approval.
Written approval can be given in a number of ways. Some owners corporations require a motion for the minor works to be approved by ordinary resolution at a general meeting of the owners corporation prior to their commencement. On the other hand, I have seen an owners corporation’s strata managing agent provide an owner with a letter consenting to the minor works.
If works involve additions to common property, the owner must seek the owners corporation’s approval under sections 51 and 52 of the Act for the creation of a new strata by-law.
Common additions to common property would include the installation of pergolas, awnings, balconies, windows and doors, new kitchens and bathrooms, air-conditioners and satellite dishes affixed or attached to common property. Similarly, the removal of ceilings and/or load bearing walls within a unit may also affect the structural integrity of the building and require the creation of a new by-law and certification from a structural engineer that the removal of the ceilings and/or load bearing walls do not affect the structural integrity of the building. It is also useful to provide the owners corporation with drawings or diagrams showing the layout/location of the proposed works.
What are the consequences of not having a strata by-law?
If you make an alteration or addition to your unit that affects, changes or damages the common property, and you have not received the owners corporation’s approval for that alteration or addition, you may be in breach of by-law 5 which means that the owners corporation may take action against you to have that alteration or addition removed and the common property restored back to its original state and condition. If you believe that you may be subject to action by the owners corporation, try and speak to the strata managing agent to find out if there is any possibility that the owners corporation would be amenable to a section 52 by-law which retrospectively approves your works.
Once the strata by-law is drafted can I start my renovation works?
No. There is a three stage process to be followed. First, you must have the written consent of “owners concerned” before commencing works. Secondly, the by-law must be passed by a special resolution at a general meeting of the owners corporation. Thirdly, the by-law must be registered prior to commencing works, as the by-law is not legally effective until it is registered on the certificate of title of the common property of the owners corporation.
What if the owners corporation refuses to pass my strata by-law by special resolution at a general meeting?
You should attempt mediation with the owners corporation and if that is unsuccessful, you may wish to obtain legal advice about your rights, options and costs going forward.
Please note that the information contained in this article is not legal advice and should not be relied upon. You should obtain legal advice before you take any action or otherwise rely upon the contents of this article.
If you have any queries in relation to the above, please do not hesitate to contact us on (02) 8710 3430.