Last November, over 90 changes to the strata laws came into force in NSW. Here’s how it could affect you…

13 new strata laws all NSW apartment residents should know about

Renos and debts

  • Renovations: for minor cosmetic renovation, you just need to notify the committee. For major cosmetic renovation, you need the approval by a vote of the committee (not a general meeting). For external renovations, you need the strata approval. If structural changes, it will require a special resolution at a general meeting.
  • Debt: Debts for unpaid levies or NCAT imposed fines can be recovered directly through local courts.

Strata managers

  • Building managers, rental agents and anyone else who makes a living by working for the strata scheme can’t be elected to the strata committees unless they are owners in the scheme.
  • Strata managers can only be appointed one year for the first scheme, then three years for the schemes after.
  • Strata managers must declare commissions they receive from compulsory insurance premiums. If you deal with insurance companies directly, your premiums won’t be reduced.

Strata committees

  • Schemes with more than 50% of the residents being registered tenants must arrange the election of a tenants’ rep to the strata committee. (The tenant will have no voting power and can be excluded from “sensitive” discussions such as finances and by-law breach complaints. )

Forced sales

  • Just 75% of owners can vote to sell the strata block to developers for demolition and replacement with something bigger, shinier, safer and more expensive.

New by-laws and rules

  • Pet by-laws: New “model” by-laws are more pro-pet but they only apply to new schemes and even then the owners get a choice of models.
  • Owners corps will be able to make arrangements with local council parking rangers to patrol their car parks.
  • Owners corps will be able to move cars parked illegally on common property to a place where parking is allowed.
  • Smoke from smoking has been defined as a nuisance, making it easier for you to raise a complaint about smoke drift from another apartment.

Disputes and fines

  • Fines: The current maximum fine is $220. That goes up to $550 for regular by-law breaches ($5500 for a first overcrowding offence and $11,000 for subsequent breaches).
  • Fines go to owners corp, giving “do-nothing” committees an added incentive to take action.



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