Every owner and occupier of a strata title unit in NSW has basic responsibilities that relate to their ownership and occupation of their apartments under the new strata legislation. These include:
- A requirement to comply with by-laws. By-laws are a set of rules that govern the management of occupants within the strata scheme. They can typically regulate behaviour of occupants and the manner in which common property can be used. By-laws are required because the law recognises that in a strata scheme where many people live in their respective units of the building, the majority of owners should be allowed to pass reasonable rules regarding the use of common property areas and the visual amenity of the building. A by-law that has the effect of being ‘harsh, unconscionable or oppressive’ is not considered on its face to be reasonable and can be challenged by an owner. Examples of common by-laws include the regulation of drying clothes on balconies, parking and the keeping of pets.
- A requirement to pay levies. There are 2 types of levies – the administrative fund to assist with the day to day running costs of the strata scheme and the capital works fund. Each owner must pay their contribution in the form of a levy in accordance with their respective unit entitlements.
- Not to cause alterations or damage the common property in a minor or substantial way without prior approval of the owners corporation – common property is anything that is not part of a lot and an owner is not permitted to alter or damage the common property unless prior approval of the owners corporation is given. The approval must be a validly given and the only exception to this rule under the new strata legislation is where the alteration to common property is considered to be ‘cosmetic works’.
Under the new legislation governing strata schemes, such works can include:
(a) installing or replacing hooks, nails or screws for hanging paintings and other things on walls;
(b) installing or replacing handrails;
(d) filling minor holes and cracks in internal walls;
(e) laying carpet;
(f) installing or replacing built-in wardrobes;
(g) installing or replacing internal blinds and curtains.
However, in carrying out ‘cosmetic works’, the owner of a lot must ensure that:
- any damage caused to any part of the common property by the carrying out of cosmetic work by or on behalf of the owner is repaired; and
- the cosmetic work and any repairs are carried out in a competent and proper manner.
Of course, before these general rules can be relied on, a proper examination of the strata scheme’s records and title must be undertaken to determine the rules that apply. We can help you navigate your way through the complexities and answer all of your questions. Please contact our office if you would like further information.