In the first major alteration of strata laws since the Strata Titles Act was created in 1973, the NSW Government has proposed over 90 reforms that will affect some 2 million industry professionals, strata owners and residents living in strata schemes in New South Wales.
The reform addresses many issues that strata communities face, with the most notable changes being in the following areas:
Parking: The reform proposes that owners corporations and local councils be allowed to appoint council parking inspectors to patrol strata parking and issue fines to those who have parked in areas prohibited to them. These arrangements would be voluntary for schemes and councils and would require parking signs to be erected.
Overcrowding: The reform will allow owners corporations to create by-laws limiting the number of adults that can live in an apartment (providing that the limit is no less than 2 adults per bedroom.) This aims to address the growing concern surrounding overcrowded apartments, particularly in city centres. The reform would introduce a $5,500 fine for the first offence and an $11,000 fine for the second.
Pets: The reform proposes the introduction of a by-law requiring owners to get approval from the owners corporation to keep a pet, and includes a clause that prohibits an owners corporation from unreasonably refusing the owners request.
Compulsory Selling At 75% Agreement Rate: This addresses the issue of ageing buildings and proposes that an apartment block can be sold if only 75% of owners agree. Currently, there has to be a 100% agreement rate for the sale to go ahead. This process would only apply to existing schemes if the owners corporation agrees to opt in, and protections would be in place for elderly and vulnerable owner occupiers.
Smoking: The reform addresses the issue of balcony smoke drift, allowing it to be considered a “nuisance” if it affects another lot or common property. Under the reform, the owners corporation would be able to prosecute offenders.
Renovation: Current laws can make it hard for owners to carry out minor renovations on their lots. The proposed changes would introduce a three tier system under which certain minor work could be undertaken without permission, some renovations could be carried out with a majority vote of the owners corporation and major renovations would need special resolutions and by-laws to be carried out.
The draft bills are currently available at www.fairtrading.nsw.gov.au and are open for public feedback until August 12th.