Owners Corporation Rules – Victoria


We’ve recently become aware of some confusion on the part of a few of our Victorian lot owners about the rules which govern living in owners corporations. Contrary to the beliefs of some, strata managers don’t make the rules by which owners must abide! In order to maintain fairness, the owners corporation laws are usually made or adopted by those who must live under them.

What are the rules for?

The imposition of some rules is necessary to regulate the right of all residents to use and enjoy the same space within a strata community. These rules are called by-laws in states other than Victoria.

The rules cover day-to-day issues which arise in community living, such as where people can park, who can keep pets, and what level of noise is acceptable. These rules are an essential feature to manage relationships within the scheme and to maximise the enjoyment of all.

Who makes the rules?

The rules for your scheme may originate in one of two places. Your scheme can draft and adopt their own rules or, if they have not done so, the model rules from the Owners Corporation Act 2006 will apply.

The model rules set out regulations covering such topics as:

  • safety of residents
  • proper waste disposal
  • use of common property(including gardening, animals, parking, and damage to common property)
  • the behavior of guests
  • noise management
  • dispute resolution processes

The full model rules are available at http://www.consumer.vic.gov.au/housing-and-accommodation/owners-corporations/rules-and-resolving-disputes/model-rules .

Making your own rules

If the model rules don’t best reflect accepted practices in your particular scheme, your owners corporation can make their own.

Rules can be made about the same topics covered by the model rules:

  • Health, safety and security
  • Use of common property
  • Use of and works to lots
  • Design of lots
  • Management and administration
  • Behavior of persons
  • Vehicles and parking
  • Committees and sub-committees

If your owners corporation does not make a rule on a particular topic covered by the model rules, the model rule automatically applies. This may mean your owners corporation is governed by a mix of owners corporation-drafted rules and model rules.

A certain process must be followed if the owners corporation wants to implement its own rules.

  • The owners corporation committee or manager can draft the rules, but it is prudent for an experienced strata lawyer to cast an eye over them (see tips for drafting at http://www.consumer.vic.gov.au/housing-and-accommodation/owners-corporations/rules-and-resolving-disputes/how-to-make-owners-corporation-rules ).
  • The rules must be consistent with the Owners Corporation Act 2006, as well as the Residential Tenancies Act 1997, Domestic (Feral and Nuisance) Animals Act 1994, Road Safety Act 1986 and the Public Health and Wellbeing Act 2008.
  • The rules cannot unfairly discriminate against a lot owner or resident.
  • The rules must be adopted by the Owners Corporation. If at least 75% voters are in favour, the new rules will be adopted by a special resolution. If at least 50% of voters are in favour, the new rules will be passed by an interim special resolution, and if there is no objection within 29 days, the new rules will be adopted.
  • The new rules must be registered with Lands Victoria in order to be valid and enforceable.
  • The owners corporation must remember to update its records and notify all owners and residents of the updated rules.

Enforcing the rules

There will be occasions where by-laws will have to be enforced in order to safeguard and maximise the enjoyment of all residents.

The rules adopted by your owners corporation should include an internal dispute resolution process which is to be followed in the event of a complaint of breach of by-law. This may include discussing the matter with the person involved, before escalating the issue to the committee or the strata manager.

As a last resort, VCAT can enforce rules and impose penalties for breach (for more details look at our Dispute Resolution article – http://sskb.com.au/body-corporate-strata-services/dispute-resolution-victoria/)

We hope this has cleared up some of the misunderstandings surrounding the rules that govern community living in Victoria. If you still have questions, please contact our SSKB strata managers.



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