Strata Schemes – Part 4

We hope you have found our Strata Scheme series helpful. If you missed any of the previous posts, you can read them here – Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3.

To conclude the series, we have listed some of the questions that we are frequently asked by owners and tenants. If you have any to add, comment below and we’ll answer them for you!

Can I keep a pet in my unit? Many strata schemes adopt the by-laws set out in the Strata Schemes Management Act 1996 (NSW) (‘The Act’), which states that an owner or occupier of a lot must not, without the approval in writing of the owners corporation, keep any animal on the lot or the common property. However, by applying to the owners corporation, you may be granted permission to keep your pet within your lot and abide by certain conditions such as having your dog on a lead when on the common property and cleaning up after the dog. If pets are strictly not allowed and you sneak a pet into your unit, you could be forced to comply with the by-laws of the Strata Plan. Although, regardless of any by-law, guide dogs are permitted.

Can my strata agent visit my unit without notice? Many strata agents will visit the complex that they manage a few times a year to witness first hand the condition of the property. Generally they will only look at the common property however at times they have been known to randomly knock on unit doors to visit the occupants. In this situation, it is our opinion that the owner or occupier could refuse entry due to not being advised in writing. We base this opinion on the fact that as Real Estate Agents, we are not permitted to visit our tenants without notifying them in writing first.

Can I dry my washing on my balcony? Most strata schemes are quite strict on this in that they enforce the by-law that says that an owner or occupier must not hang any washing, towel, bedding, clothing or other article on any part of the parcel in such a way as to be visible from outside the building other than on any lines provided by the owners corporation for the purpose and there only for a reasonable period. We have seen many strata managers enforce this with tenants by writing them a letter to comply with the by-law.

Does the external façade of a building need to be identical for each unit or can it vary? Generally speaking, each strata scheme attempts to keep the common property looking uniform. We have heard of a situation where an owner wanted to install a new security screen door, which was approved under the condition that they would install one that was the same colour as every other unit’s. Overall, any change to common property needs to be passed by the owners corporation.

If my unit is for investment purposes do I need to tell my strata manager? Yes, in fact you are legally required to give notice of tenants’ names and rental agent details.

Do my strata managers need the details of my rental agents and tenants? Yes. If there is an urgent repair or emergency in which access to your unit is needed it may be necessary to contact the agent or tenants to get in to the unit to fix the problem.

What happens if I don’t pay my levies? A levy if unpaid after 30 days after its due date accrues interest on a daily basis at a rate of 10% p.a simple interest. The owners corporation has the right to recover any unpaid arrears through a debt collection agency. All costs involved in recovering the debt is payable by the owner who is in arrears.

If I want to renovate my unit, do I have to tell strata? Yes. Under the current legislation and by-laws you must notify the owners corporation, in writing, before commencing any renovations to the lot. Some renovations also require the permission of the owners corporation so it is best to contact your strata manager before arranging any works.

What is the best thing to do if I want to discuss major maintenance issues on the complex? If you have concerns as to major maintenance it is best to place these items on the agenda for the next general meeting so that they can be discussed and a vote taken as to how to proceed with this issue in the future.

What should I do if I have a complaint about another resident at the complex? Schedule 3 of the Act sets out the basic requirements of residents that live in multi-dwelling units in regards to noise, damage, interference and other basic living expectations. However if there are complaints as to the behaviour of another resident it is suggested in the first instance to ask them to stop the anti social behaviour. If this does not work then the Body Corporate will need to decide what action to take. If you are managed by a professional Body Corporate Manager they can often act as an independent mediator between the parties and this will often result in an amicable outcome to most situations.

The visitors car space is usually vacant so can I park in that space considering I am a resident owner who doesn’t have an allocated car space? If the provision of a visitor’s car parking area was a condition of the Development Consent, parking by a resident is not permitted. However, if this is not the case, the owners corporation may pass a resolution permitting a resident to park in the visitor’s car space.

I would like to install a storage box in my car space. Do I need owners corporation permission to do the install even though the storage box is totally contained within my own lot? You must seek the permission of the owners corporation to install anything within your car space as the general standard by-law requires that owners must NOT keep anything within their lot that is not in keeping with the appearance of the rest of the building. If there is a special by-law concerning storage units in your strata scheme then you should refer to those rules first before doing anything.

Can I install an air-conditioning unit into the outside wall of my unit? Details of the proposal must be submitted in writing to the owners corporation and the owners corporation’s consent must be obtained before commencing any work. An appropriate ‘exclusive use’ by-law would need to be passed and registered if approval IS given. Such a by-law would need to be prepared by a solicitor. However, you should always check your scheme’s by-laws in the first instance in case one which covers this topic already exists.

I want to install floating floor boards throughout my unit. Do I need to seek owners corporation approval before undertaking this work? In the absence of a special by-law passed for your strata scheme, 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 floor boards however, if after the installation, it’s found that any noise transmitting from your lot (due to the floorboards) disturbs your neighbours you may be required (by a NSW Consumer, Trader and Tenancy Tribunal order) to remove or partially cover the floorboards with a rug to stop the noise affecting others living in your strata scheme. Therefore, the wisest course of action would be to consult with the Owners Corporation well before the installation and then, through the use of the highest grade, sound proofing underlay possible, avoid any conflict after the installation. If your neighbour has installed floor boards and you are being affected by noise travelling through the strata scheme, it would be worthwhile discussing this with your Strata Manager.