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:
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:
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.
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.