New strata laws affecting all apartment owners and tenants came into force on 30 November 2016.

These significant rule changes included nearly 100 amendments that materially impact what it means to live in a strata titled building.

Some of the new laws cover all buildings and others are optional laws that individual strata schemes can choose to introduce. Ensure you speak to your committee, property manager and tenant’s union as appropriate to know what will affect you.

Here is a round-up of some of the more substantial changes in the new rules.

Your day-to-day life

Thankfully, not everything is going to change for your apartment lifestyle. Many of the things you love about being in a strata community will stay the same. But there are some alterations to be aware of.

One of the big changes impacting the lifestyles of tenants and owners is the introduction of more pet-friendly rules that will see sweeping anti-pet by-laws become a thing of the past. While animals will still only be allowed where appropriate, this allows people who live in the building to speak to their strata committee for permission.

If owners do not want to change their by-laws about disallowing pets, then these new laws will not overrule them. Tenants will still require permission from their landlord and, as always, a landlord cannot allow a tenant to have a pet if the by-laws don’t allow them.

Not only will having pets sometimes be easier under by-laws introduced, but it could also see those whose smoking habits affect other residents to be fined under the new rules. This is especially the case if they smoke on their balcony and it impacts their neighbours. Smoking isn’t banned, but owners who consider it a nuisance can take their neighbours to tribunal.

Redevelopments and renovations

Homeowners wanting to renovate their strata-titled apartment in the past know that in some complexes it has been difficult even to rip up the carpet and keep the floorboards.

But under the new laws, small cosmetic improvements that impact on common walls will only require notification to the committee. Minor renovations and major renovations will need a vote by committee or special resolution respectively. This will make things easier for investors and homeowners intending to do a quick spruce up of their property.

And those whose interest lies in selling to a developer for a tidy profit for a knock-down rebuild of the block are also in for some luck. There is a new rule that allows a strata scheme to be sold to a developer if 75% of owners agree. In the past, it required a unanimous vote. The idea behind this, is that it will allow more decisions to be made without it being held up by one person.

Other changes to know about:

  • Squatters fines have increased to $550 for the first offence.
  • Owners corporations now have the power to move cars illegally parked on common property.
  • Tenants will have a right to attend owners corporation meetings (though will be unable to stay when discussions are about financial matters).
  • From July 1 2017, developers will be required to make their levies realistic for strata schemes so maintenance is effectively covered for the first few years after sale.
  • Strata Committee members will be required to declare conflicts of interest.

While the rules are in place now, there is still some time for committees to review their current building rules and for the by-laws and regulations around your block to change. By 30 November 2017, all strata schemes are expected to have reviewed their current by-laws.

Sydney’s Eastern Suburbs Market Snapshot 2016

Sydney’s Eastern Suburbs Market Snapshot 2016

A detailed annual assessment of the property market focusing on the Eastern Suburbs of Sydney, Australia.

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