ALTERATIONS IN A LOT – FACTSHEET
The new Strata Schemes Management Act 2015 that came into effect on 30 November 2016 brought a more common-sense attitude to owners who elect to undertake renovations in their apartments.
No owner should undertake any works to their Lot until they confirm with the strata manager, as this can save time money or prevent the owner from being in breach of the Act and or their by-laws.
This works will fall into one of three possibilities:
1: Cosmetic changes only
No approval is required. This involves minor changes such as inserting picture hooks into a wall.
2: Minor renovations
This means that a ordinally general resolution will be required (approval from the majority of eligible voters) to be added onto the next General Meeting of the Owners’ Corporation. No works can commence until the Owners’ Corporation has held the meeting and approved the works. A General Meeting of the Owners can be called for if approved by the Strata Committee or if at least 25% of the other owners approve to call the meeting. This type of renovation must not affect the unit’s external appearance or its waterproofing, or involve structural changes.
3: Major renovations
This means that a special resolution will be required (approval of more than 75% of the unit entitlement from eligible voters) to be added onto the next General Meeting of the Owners’ Corporation. No works can commence until the Owners’ Corporation has held the meeting and approved the works. A General Meeting of the Owners can be called for if approved by the Strata Committee or if at least 25% of the other owners approve to call the meeting. This type of works Includes renovations that will have an impact on waterproofing or the external appearance of the dwelling, or that involve structural changes. Such as bathroom renovations or anything effecting wet areas tiles.
In the example above of a bathroom renovation, wet area tiles are deemed to be common property of the Owners’ Corporation – therefore any work on those tiles will affect the waterproofing. Hence the by-law will remove the responsibility for ongoing maintenance away from the owner corporation and passed onto the Lot owner.
The Lot owner must prior to the passing of the by-law provide written consent to the Owners’ Corporation that it accepts and will continue to be responsible for the proper maintenance of, and keeping in a state of good and serviceable repair of the works it undertakes.
The by-law MUST clearly state and this as well.
The special resolution once approved will become a by-law of the Owner’s Corporation and will be registered on the Owners’ Corporation Certificate of Title.
ALTERATIONS TO A LOT
When proposing to undertake renovations to a lot, the Lot Owners should review this factsheet and we suggest you complete the accompanying application form and checklist. Please submit the application form and checklist, along with any supporting documentation, to the Owners’ Corporation, care of admin@Sydneystrataspecialists.com.au.
YOUR LOT (THE APARTMENT)
In most strata schemes, the lot owner owns the inside of the unit but not the main structure of the building. Usually the four main walls, the ceiling, roof and the floor are common property. The internal walls within the lot (e.g. the wall between the kitchen and lounge room), floor coverings such as carpet and fixtures such as baths, toilet bowls and bench tops are all the property of the lot owner. However the wet area tiles (bathroom, laundry etc are in fact common property).
It is also important to note that while non-load bearing internal walls are not defined as common property, a Council Development Application may still be required where you are changing the dimensions of any room. The Council Development Application requires approval by the Owners’ Corporation.
A lot owner effectively owns the airspace (and anything included in the airspace) inside the boundary walls, floor and ceiling of the lot. Lot airspace may include balconies and courtyards. Everything within the airspace must be maintained at the owner’s cost.
AREAS OF COMMON PROPERTY
The following is a checklist for common property:
- floor includes a ramp or stairway
- wall includes any door, window or other structure within the wall and their working parts
- ceramic tiles originally attached to a common property surface (eg. the floor or boundary wall)
- pipes in the common property or servicing more than one lot (ducting panels)
- electrical wiring in the common property or servicing more than one lot
- parquet and floor boards originally installed
- vermiculite ceilings, plaster ceilings and cornices
- magnesite finish on the floor
- balcony doors are usually common property if the strata plan was registered after 1 July 1974
- load bearing columns or walls
- Wet area floor and tiles (bathroom, laundry )
- the slab dividing two storeys of the same lot, or one storey from an open space roof area or garden areas of a lot (eg. a townhouse or villa), is usually common property if the strata plan was registered after 1 July 1974, unless the registered strata plan says it is not.
ARRANGING an EXTRAORDINARY GENERAL MEETING (EGM) OF THE OWNERS’ CORPORATION
There are only two ways that an Extraordinary General meeting can be held;
1) That the Strata Committee approve to call a EGM
2) That a formal request signed by at least one-quarter of the aggregate unit entitlement, instructing the Secretary via the strata manager convene the meeting
CLARIFICATION OF COMMON PROPERTY
The registered strata plan defines the boundaries between common property and lots in a strata scheme. If you wish to clarify any areas of common property for your strata scheme, please contact admin@Sydneystrataspecialists.com.au for further information.
EXCLUSIVE USE BY-LAW
If the alterations affect Common Property such as point 3 above, then an Exclusive Use By-Law must be drafted by a qualified firm of Solicitors. We are able to assist in recommending a firm if required. The current estimated cost of having a by-law drafted is $1,600.00 + GST. There are the cost of the meeting (as it requires the other owners voting on it) and then the registration of the by-law at the Land & Information Property Office (NSW Government) costs (See separate cost estimate sheet).
Without the Special By-Law, the work becomes unauthorised and you would be asked to return the property back to the way it was (Which no one wishes to do.).
Following receipt of the by-law motion and supporting documentation, we can then prepare a draft agenda for your review and discussion. Once all the documentation is delivered and in an acceptable format and wording the strata manager will prepare the agenda and send it to all owners.
EGM AGENDA / MEETING /MINUTES
The Exclusive Use By-Law (in Motion format) will then be presented at the EGM as a proposed Special Resolution. The meeting can be either a physical meeting whereby owners are invited to attend the meeting or it could be a paper meeting whereby the owners are invited to provide their proxy and instructions on how to vote (for or against the proposal) For a Special Resolution to be passed, no more than 25% of the unit entitlements vote against the resolution.
Please note that the number of proxy votes able to be held by an individual for schemes with less than 20 lots to one proxy vote, or 5% for schemes with more than 20 lots.
As the strata manager may attend the meeting and record the vote as well as prepare the Minutes of the meeting if instructed to do so.
Moving the Motion to a By-Law.
If the motion is passed, then the motion becomes a by-law and we as strata managers will complete the application to the Land & Information Property (LPI) office for registration (registered on the Certificate of Title) and make the necessary arrangements to have the by-law registered.
Notification of any change of by-law must be lodged with the Registrar General not more than 6 months after the passing of the special resolution to make the by-law otherwise the decision is considered lapsed and the motion would need to be passed again at another general meeting.
REGISTRATION OF THE BY-LAW
The newly created by-law now has to comply with Strata Schemes Management Act 2015 and Strata Schemes Development Regulation 2016. What that means is any change in the by-laws for a strata scheme that are lodged for registration MUST be in the form of a consolidated version of all the existing by-laws that incorporates the changes to the by-laws as well. The consolidated version of the by-laws must include any relevant model by-laws. If an attempt to register a change in the by-laws without the consolidated version of the by‑laws, Land and Property Information will reject the document being lodged. This means greater administration costs to creating lodging and registering by-laws.
REINSTATEMENT OF COMMON PROPERTY
Any Lot Owner who fails to follow the correct procedures runs the risk of having orders made for the reinstatement of Common Property to its original form at their expense.
A Lot owner MUST complete a consent form prior to the Motion being prepared. An example of the written consent follows
TO: The Registrar-General
Land & Property Information NSW
SYDNEY NSW 2000
Re: Consent to bylaw
In accordance with the Strata Schemes Management Act 2015 I consent to the Owners’ Corporation making the following bylaw conferring rights of exclusive use and enjoyment and/or special privileges and its conditions upon me in respect of my lot to be passed by the Owners’ Corporation at its general meeting to be held on the date specified below or at any adjournment of that meeting:
The by-law is to be made by the Owners’ Corporation of strata plan _________ at a general meeting on / / 2017 or any adjournment of that meeting.
Name in full: ______________________________
Lot No: ____________
Date signed: ___/____/2017