How changes to strata laws could affect you
The NSW government has released draft bills reforming 55 year old strata laws after a long period of consultation with various groups involved with strata living. It’s important for the two million people who live in strata accommodation, including about one quarter of the population of Sydney, to understand how the changes could affect them.
Strata laws apply to people who own accommodation or live in a shared building or property such as a city high rise, townhouses, offices, retirement villages and some dual occupancies.
The biggest change is to allow 75 per cent of apartment owners in older blocks of flats to agree to sell the building to a developer, regardless of the wishes of the other 25 per cent. At the moment the decision to sell a block of flats required 100 per cent of owners to agree. The proposed change is prompted by cases of one individual holding out against everybody else wanting to sell to a developer. The change could see some residents, most likely the elderly, forced out of a home they don’t want to leave.
The government says the new law will provide fair compensation for those forced out of their home. Critics say the law is designed to assist developers. Tony Mitchell of Stacks Law Firm said residents who may be caught by this change would be wise to get experienced legal advice to ensure they get fair treatment.
The draft laws cut red tape to simplify minor renovations and building maintenance. Pets will be allowed unless the strata committee has a good reason for saying no. (For an update on the law in this area, please see our November 2021 article Landmark judgement over right to keep pets in apartments.)
Second hand smoke will be classified as a “nuisance” under the law, allowing strata committees to make their own rules about smoking. The new law does not ban smoking in the home. (For more information please see Smoking on balconies and the law.)
Strata committees will be able to limit the number of adults who can live in an apartment with $5,500 fines for bylaw breakers. This is aimed at owners who cram far too many renters into an apartment.
Owner corporations and councils will be able to have council parking inspectors fine people who park improperly on common property. But beware, it may be a bit like inviting in the devil.
Developers will have to place a bond of two per cent of the building value to cover potential defects. But will this just be added to the sale price?
See the draft bills on the Fair Trading website, but hurry. Feedback closes on 12 August and the final bills are intended to be introduced to parliament by the end of the year.