Strata Reform: Effective By-Laws
The Owners corporations of existing strata schemes must review their by-laws within 12 months of the commencement of the Strata Schemes Management Act 2015 (“Management Act”) and consider if their existing by-laws would be limited by operation of the new Act. It is highly recommended that you review and amend your current by-laws to continue to enjoy the appropriate and enforceable controls over your scheme.
Some of the notable changes regarding the by-laws are:
- Occupancy limits
A provision in the Management Act allows for by-laws to limit the number of adults occupying a lot, however, the limits cannot be fewer than 2 adults per bedroom. In particular, there is an exception where a by-law may have no effect if all of the occupiers are related to each other as members of the family. You should carefully consider the class of people who are exempt from the occupancy limit, and seek advice as to keeping your by-law to effectively manage the number of people living in each lot.
- Prohibition on pets
If your by-law contains a prohibition on pets, consider whether it is still operative under the new reforms. A by-law cannot automatically prevent the keeping of an animal and it is now easier for lot occupiers to keep pets by simply notifying the Owners Corporation in writing and complying with the condition of supervision; or by obtaining the written approval of the Owners Corporation.
In the case of an assistance animal, any by-laws restricting or regulating the keeping of pets are not enforceable under the new Act, to the extent they prohibit or restrict the keeping of an assistance animal, such as a guide or hearing dog. To determine whether such animal is allowed, the Owners Corporation can require the lot occupier to produce evidence that the animal is an assistance animal.
- Prohibition on smoking
The Management Act and its explanatory Note considers the penetration of smoke into a lot or common property as a possible nuisance or hazard which may unreasonably interfere with the use or enjoyment of the common property or another lot. If you did not have a specific restriction on smoking, you could impose a more thorough by-law in place regarding smoke drift which may affect other lot occupiers in the scheme. If you are considering to use the model by-laws, you must carefully consider the options and adequately amend it so that it will be applicable to your circumstance.
- Notify any change in use or occupation of lot
A new model by-law contained in the Regulations suggests that if a lot occupier wishes to utilise the lot for other purpose such as short term leases, a by-law can require an occupier to give written notification to the Owners Corporation of any change of use, 21 days before any such change occurs. Owners Corporation can adopt this clause to regulate lot owners that are using their lot as short term accommodation, such as AirBnB. By doing so, the Owners Corporation will be able to adequately monitor people accessing the scheme to maintain the security of the premises and check compliance with any development approvals.
The most important requirement of the new Management Act is that a by-law must not be harsh, unconscionable or oppressive, otherwise it will not be enforceable. Therefore it is highly recommended that you seek legal advice to review your by-laws in order to be compliant, effective and enforceable.
Call us if your require assistance with review and amendment of your Strata By-Laws