Think renting a unit or flat in a complex is as simple as a lease agreement with a real estate agent…actually, no.
Whether you are an owner, a tenant or even a visitor to a Strata run property you will need to abide by the set of rules outlined in the Strata scheme that relate to that property.
Every property will have slightly different or possibly drastically different rules. Exactly what is covered in a property’s by-laws is determined by the owner’s corporation.
The purpose of the by-laws is to honour a particular lifestyle, the one chosen as the best lifestyle format for the property features. Owner’s corporations decide what kind of atmosphere they want for the overall property and set rules in place to ensure all live-in owners and tenants maintain this lifestyle code.
Items that might be covered in a Strata by-law
• Behaviour in common areas
• Where to hang washing
• Noise control
There are rules that apply to the by-laws themselves, to make sure they are not oppressive, harsh or outrageous. The by-laws are not able to restrict short-term tenancy or property sales or discriminate against a resident. For example, there can be no rules that restrict children or service animals.
HOW STRATA BY-LAWS WORK
To obtain a copy of your Strata by-laws you can contact the owner’s corporation for your building (the details are usually located by the building letterbox or entranceways). In most cases, you will be requesting the Strata scheme from the secretary or your property’s managing agent.
As part of compliance management, all Strata schemes are reviewed regularly. The review is required to be completed by November each year, although you are able to review a scheme in any month. Any changes that are proposed will be communicated to you in writing and a vote will be taken at the owner’s cooperation before any requested changes are made.
It important that you take the time to know your current Strata by-laws and review them as often as requested so that you do not unintentionally cross any lines, and also so you understand your rights as an owner or tenant.
There are two levels to having pets on a property. Firstly, each property owner can decide to allow, or not allow pets on their premises. Reasons for not allowing pets can include, allergies, hygiene, increased costs for cleaning, noise and potential property damage.
If your owner does not allow pets but the Strata by-laws do, then you will not be allowed to have a pet in that particular residence.
If pets are allowed by both the owner and the owner’s cooperation the pet owner must take responsibility to supervise, clean up after and control their pet.
Examples of by-laws for pets on the property:
• Total ban (except in the case of service animals)
• 14 days notice
• Written permission from the owner’s corporation.
In the case of written permission, it’s not acceptable to refuse any written request unless they have genuine concerns. These concerns must be returned in writing to the occupant that fully explains the reason why a particular pet is not allowed.
Smoking in common areas or allowing smoke to drift to neighbours or common areas is something that can be enforced in by-laws. Owner corporations can place a ban on smoking on the property and can also ask owners to ensure any second-hand smoke is confined to their premises. In some cases, smoking areas may be delegated in a common area that will include suitable cigarette disposal containers.
What by-laws are in place at your scheme?
If you are looking to buy a Strata run property it’s important that you first check the by-laws to make sure you are happy with the conditions, regardless of whether you are planning to occupy or lease your apartment or unit.
It is also essential that you obtain a Section 184 Certificate in order to meet the sale requirements of a Strata property.
If you are a landlord, you will be required to provide your tenants with a copy of the by-laws for the property within seven days of signing the tenancy agreement.
Usually, if a breach of the by-laws has been made the Strata committee will contact the resident informing them of the correct law. They are given an opportunity to correct their behaviour.
A follow-up letter ‘Notice to Comply with a By-Law’ will follow if the resident refuses to comply. This formal notice will only be given following a vote by the owners where the majority rule that the breach warrants a final warning.
If further action is required after the notice to comply then the owner’s corporation can apply for assistance from the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal (Tribunal).
The Tribunal can issue first time penalties up to $1,100 and second repeat offence penalties up to $2,200.
These by-laws run in addition to the arrangements set out in the Tenancy Agreement and in addition to the standard rights in the Residential Act. All residents have the right to a peaceful living space and the rules across the board are put in place to ensure a safe and harmonious living environment and protection of property.
Peta Stewart – Certified Practicing Conveyancer