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The ‘top 10’ new strata laws that will make a difference

22 June 2016

By Adrian Mueller, Senior Lawyer at J.S Mueller & Co

Over 90 new strata laws will come into play later this year and of the 90 these are some changes that will most likely make a difference to your everyday.

1. Parking
Owners corporations will be able to reach agreements with local councils to allow parking officers into their schemes to issue fines to rogue parkers.

Not only rogue parkers but residents who park over the lines of their parking spaces on to common property or leave their cars in visitor parking (however briefly) could also be ticketed. Read more: http://bit.ly/25je4Zq

2. Fines

Almost all fines will be paid to the owners corporation, but this won’t be a cash cow for over-zealous committees; they still have to go through the same tribunal process. Read more: http://bit.ly/1TIJxNx

3. Short term rental

Owners corporations can now set limits on the number of people allowed to live in an apartment provided the upper limit is no less than two adults for each bedroom. Failure to abide by this law could result in fines from $11,000 to 22,000. Read more: http://bit.ly/1syyP1z

4. Smoke

An owners corporation can make a strata by-law banning smoking on the common property of the strata building. Orders can also be made against residents who smoke or allow their cigarette or barbeque smoke to drift into other units and landlords can be held liable to their tenants for second hand smoke exposure. Read more: http://bit.ly/1QwdltQ

5. Pets

The new strata by-laws will not remove a scheme’s ability to make its own rules about pets. However, if option B of the new model by-law is adopted, the request to keep a pet cannot be unreasonably refused. If the owners believe approval was unreasonably withheld, they can apply to the Tribunal for an order that permits the keeping of pets on the lot or common property. Read more: http://bit.ly/1UaKmNR

6. Renovations

New rules mean hanging pictures, coat hooks and filling cracks can go ahead without owners corpration approval while “minor alterations” – such as kitchen renovations, installing timber or tile floors and replacing wiring or power points no longer need a special resolution by-law but rather owners corporation approval by resolution at a general meeting. But be aware there are other laws that allow owners corporations to charge owners or occupiers for any damage caused to common property or another lot. Read more: http://bit.ly/1UaJx7E

7. Levies

Owners corporations will be able to get compensation if a developer promised unrealistically low levies at the time of sale. By the time the owners have to pay the actual bills for services, the developer is out of the picture. Now owners can pursue them for compensation through the Tribunal if the application is made no later than three years after the end of the initial period. Read more: http://bit.ly/20u5CzM

8. Strata management agency agreements

Strata management agency agreements will be limited to a term of one year if the strata manager is appointed at the first annual general meeting, and in any other case, three years following the appointment. The one-year initial contract gives strata manager’s ample time to prove themselves to the strata committee … or otherwise. The subsequent three-year contracts allow owners corporations to change strata managers more easily if the relationship isn’t working out and if they don't terminate the appointment pursuant to the agency agreement (if authorised by a resolution at a general meeting). Read more: http://bit.ly/1WPaNga

9. Votes

The biggest technological changes in our lives have been in communication. Voting electronically, via Skype calls, by email and even good old-fashioned snail mail will be introduced. However, voting must be in person unless the owners corporation, by resolution passed in general meeting, determines that a vote may be cast by another means. There are also some limitations of using electronic voting, for instance, the prohibition on pre-meeting electronic voting if the matter is an electionRead more: http://bit.ly/1OTxWLa

10. Tenants

Tenants who are registered on the strata roll now have a right under the new laws and will be able to attend owners corporation meetings. They may vote if they hold a proxy (giving them voting rights on a lot owner’s behalf). Read more: http://bit.ly/28NWTY7