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No way back. Can this be true?
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James79
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08/05/2017 - 10:18 pm
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I am a Committee member of a 40 lot Strata. We were recently informed that as a result of the recent changes that all minor and major renovations can only be resolved at an AGM or EGM until we review our by-laws (this is in process). I have done some reading here and can see that major renovations cannot be passed without an AGM or EGM. I also read that a scheme can vote to allow the committee to vote on minor renovations. The scheme can also stipulate a list of what minor renovations can be be as long as that does not contradict the act.

My strata manager informed me/us, at a recent EGM to vote in a minor renovation, that even if the scheme votes to allow the strata committee to be able to address requests for 'minor renovations' that the strata will still be voting in an EGM ore AGM at cost to the applicant. If the applicant wishes to hold an individual meeting for their application, rather than waiting for others or the AGM, then the full cost (around $500) will be bore by them. I was informed there is no way you can return to the committee voting on these matters without an EGM.i.e. all committee votes on a minor renovation are an EGM. I found this hard to believe.

Please tell me everything you know!

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Lady Penelope
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08/05/2017 - 11:43 pm
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James79 - You are partly right and partly wrong. See the link below for what approvals are required for the 3 categories of renovations: cosmetic, minor, and major.

The committee cannot approve a Minor renovation unless a by-law has been passed by special resolution at a General Meeting to permit this to occur. 

http://www.fairtrading.nsw.gov.....tions.page

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JimmyT
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09/05/2017 - 12:42 am
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Lady Penelope said
The committee cannot approve a Minor renovation unless a by-law has been passed by special resolution at a General Meeting to permit this to occur. 

True ... but they only have to pass that by-law once, not every time.  

However, if you want to bring that forward, before the AGM, then, yeah, the OC will want you to pay for the meeting.

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James79
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09/05/2017 - 7:05 am
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Yes I understand those points and thank you for your input.

My question is more related to whether all new 'minor renovation' must be via EGM or AGM. The strata manager advised at the meeting that, even if the Owners voted to return the decision to the Committee for minor renovation that this could not be voted on within the committee and the strata manager advised. It would have to be an EGM with the only voters required being the Committee. The cost of this would be approx 500 for an applicant or to be shared between several.

The message was you cannot go back to just voting within the committee and advising the manager even if that is the wish of the scheme.  I found hard to believe as did all those attending the meeting.

Looking forward to your input.

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Lady Penelope
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09/05/2017 - 8:27 am
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I believe that the Strata Manager's assessment is incorrect.

When responsibility for taking a particular action is lawfully delegated to the Strata Committee by the OC then that generally means that the matter is dealt with at a Committee Meeting rather than a General Meeting.

In that scenario it is permissible for Minor renovations to be approved at a Committee Meeting rather than at a more expensively convened General Meeting.

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JimmyT
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09/05/2017 - 8:44 am
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Your strata manager either has only a slender grasp of strata law or a poor ability to express what he does know.

For a start, you can't have an EGM at which only the committee votes - it wouldn't be a general meeting then and it certainly couldn't fulfill the requirements of higher level decision making.

Minor works have to be approved by the Owners Corp but this can be done by committee, representing the Owners Corp, if a general meeting has previously agreed to that via a by-law.

Major works have to be decided at a general meeting.

Here are the relevant sections of the Act and Regulations. The references (below) to section 108 refer to the part of the Act that requires special resolution by-laws to be passed for changes to and ongoing maintenance of affected areas of common property. My emphasis in bold.

109 Cosmetic work by owners
(1) The owner of a lot in a strata scheme may carry out cosmetic work to common property in connection with the owner’s lot without the approval of the owners corporation.

(2) Cosmetic work includes but is not limited to work for the following purposes:
(a) installing or replacing hooks, nails or screws for hanging paintings and other things on walls,
(b) installing or replacing handrails,
(c) painting,
(d) filling minor holes and cracks in internal walls,
(e) laying carpet,
(f) installing or replacing built-in wardrobes, 
(g) installing or replacing internal blinds and curtains,
(h) any other work prescribed by the regulations for the purposes of this
subsection.

(3) An owner of a lot must ensure that:
(a) any damage caused to any part of the common property by the carrying out of cosmetic work by or on behalf of the owner is repaired, and
(b) the cosmetic work and any repairs are carried out in a competent and proper manner.

(4) The by-laws of a strata scheme may specify additional work that is to be cosmetic work for the purposes of this section.

(5) This section does not apply to the following work:
(a) work that consists of minor renovations for the purposes of section 110,
(b) work involving structural changes,
(c) work that changes the external appearance of a lot, including the installation of an external access ramp,
(d) work that detrimentally affects the safety of a lot or common property,
including fire safety systems,
(e) work involving waterproofing or the plumbing or exhaust system of a building in a strata scheme,
(f) work involving reconfiguring walls,
(g) work for which consent or another approval is required under any other Act, 
(h) any other work prescribed by the regulations for the purposes of this
subsection.
(6) Section 108 does not apply to cosmetic work carried out in accordance with this section.

110 Minor renovations by owners

(1) The owner of a lot in a strata scheme may carry out work for the purposes of minor renovations to common property in connection with the owner’s lot with the approval of the owners corporation given by resolution at a general meeting. A special resolution authorising the work is not required.

(2) The approval may be subject to reasonable conditions imposed by the owners corporation and cannot be unreasonably withheld by the owners corporation.

(3) Minor renovations include but are not limited to work for the purposes of the following:
(a) renovating a kitchen,
(b) changing recessed light fittings,
(c) installing or replacing wood or other hard floors,
(d) installing or replacing wiring or cabling or power or access points,
(e) work involving reconfiguring walls,
(f) any other work prescribed by the regulations for the purposes of this
subsection.

(4) Before obtaining the approval of the owners corporation, an owner of a lot must give written notice of proposed minor renovations to the owners corporation, including the following:
(a) details of the work, including copies of any plans,
(b) duration and times of the work,
(c) details of the persons carrying out the work, including qualifications to carry out the work,
(d) arrangements to manage any resulting rubbish or debris.
(5) An owner of a lot must ensure that:
(a) any damage caused to any part of the common property by the carrying out of minor renovations by or on behalf of the owner is repaired, and
(b) the minor renovations and any repairs are carried out in a competent and proper manner. 

(6) The by-laws of a strata scheme may provide for the following:
(a) additional work that is to be a minor renovation for the purposes of this section,
(b) permitting the owners corporation to delegate its functions under this section to the strata committee.

(7) This section does not apply to the following work:
(a) work that consists of cosmetic work for the purposes of section 109,
(b) work involving structural changes,
(c) work that changes the external appearance of a lot, including the installation of an external access ramp,
(d) work involving waterproofing,
(e) work for which consent or another approval is required under any other Act,
(f) work that is authorised by a by-law made under this Part or a common property rights by-law,
(g) any other work prescribed by the regulations for the purposes of this
subsection.
(8) Section 108 does not apply to minor renovations carried out in accordance with this section.
Note. Section 132 enables rectification orders to be made against owners of lots for damage
caused by work done by owners.
111 Work by owners of lots affecting common property
An owner of a lot in a strata scheme must not carry out work on the common property
unless the owner is authorised to do so:
(a) under this Part, or
(b) under a by-law made under this Part or a common property rights by-law, or
(c) by an approval of the owners corporation given by special resolution or in any other manner authorised by the by-laws.

FROM THE REGULATIONS

28 Minor renovations by owners
Work for the following purposes is prescribed as minor renovations for the purposes of section 110 (3) of the Act:
(a) removing carpet or other soft floor coverings to expose underlying wooden or other hard floors,
(b) installing a rainwater tank,
(c) installing a clothesline,
(d) installing a reverse cycle split system air conditioner,
(e) installing double or triple glazed windows,
(f) installing a heat pump,
(g) installing ceiling insulation.
Note. The work prescribed by this clause is subject to the requirements set out in section 110 (7) of the Act, including requirements that it does not involve structural changes, changes to the external appearance of a lot or waterproofing.

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James79
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09/05/2017 - 6:34 pm
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Thank you both for helping me out and for the thoroughness of your information. I will be discussing this with the strata manager at the earliest opportunity.

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sylcec
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12/05/2017 - 9:01 pm
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I do appreciate James raising this topic and the responses.

Is there some simple standard wording that can be used for a by-law which will delegate to the Strata Committee the power to approve minor renovations?  I did ask our Strata Manager this question, but he said that he was not legally allowed to provide this advice and we would need to engage a lawyer to draw up such a proposed by-law. 

Is the form of words really going to be that complex, or can you share a record of words that other SPs have used?

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Lady Penelope
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13/05/2017 - 6:31 pm
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I am not a lawyer. The following is a suggestion only and is not to be relied upon. I advise you to take a good look at SSMA 2015 [s110].

Depending on your particular scheme's needs a suggestion for your Minor Renovation By-Law could go something like this (or not):

By-Law for Minor Renovations

  1. The owner of a lot may make minor renovations to their lot subject to the approval of the strata committee and subject to all of the requirements and conditions outlined in these By-laws.
  2. The minor renovations must not interfere with the peaceful enjoyment of any other lot.
  3. Minor renovations are only those specified in SSMA 2015 [s 110] and do not include major renovations.
  4. Minor renovations include: (a) Renovating a kitchen. However, these cannot include waterproofing. (b) Changing recessed light fittings. (c) Installing or replacing wood or other hard floors. However, these are subject to the condition outlined in these by-laws. (d) Changing internal walls. However, these cannot include structural changes. (e) Installing sustainability measures (such as clotheslines or reverse cycle air conditioner). However, these cannot involve changing the outside appearance of a lot or structural changes. (f) Installing or replacing wiring or cabling or power or access points.
  5. With the exception of a ground floor lot all owners who wish to install or replace wood or other hard floors as a minor renovation must abide by the following conditions: (a) Provide a written report to the strata committee from a qualified acoustic engineer that analyses the acoustic properties of the proposed floor finish prior to installation and a further written report that tests and analyses the acoustic properties of the flooring on completion of the installation of the hard floor.(b) The acoustic properties of the proposed flooring and the completed flooring must not be worse than a 3 star AAAC rating of Lntw <=55 dB. (c) If an installed floor finish fails the provisions of the by-law, then a Notice may be issued to the lot owner concerned requiring that lot owner to place carpet laid over heavy duty underlay over the installed floor finish.
  6. All owners who wish to undertake minor repairs must provide the following details to the strata committee: (a) any plans of the work, and (b) when the work will be carried out (times and dates), and (c) qualifications and details of the trades people who will do the work.
  7. The renovating owner must ensure that during the uplift of materials and removal of debris via the use of the common property lift and/or stairs and/or walkways that disturbance and inconvenience to the other occupants of the building be minimized.
  8. Measures (acceptable to the strata committee) must be taken by the renovating owner throughout the course of the minor renovation to: (a) Protect the common property (b) Ensure that the site is left clean at the end of each working day (c) Minimise the release of dust (d) Minimise noise disturbance and nuisance.
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sylcec
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14/05/2017 - 5:51 pm
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Thank you Lady Penelope for your response. However, I suspect that this is rather more complex than required, so shall make further enquiries.

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Imogen Bannister
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20/11/2017 - 10:27 pm
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Further to this subject at our AGM on 20 September we agreed to delegate Minor Renovations to the Strata Committee. Several weeks after I, the Secretary, called a Strata Committee meeting in relation to a minor renovation. A notice and agenda were sent to all owners as well as the Strata Manager within the relevant legal time frame. Days after the meeting I sent out the Minutes.  The Strata Committee was very careful to follow due process. However, the Strata Manager got most irrate.  We were shocked at his reaction and decided it must be because we had inadvertently avoided having to pay for a meeting. We pointed out that we followed due process and were entitled to call a Strata Committee Meeting as a result of the special resolution at the AGM. He is now saying the By-Law has not been registered yet.

Do we have to wait for him to register the By-Law despite the matter being resolved weeks ago at the AGM?

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scotlandx
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21/11/2017 - 6:14 am
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Well yes the by-law needs to be registered so the strata manager should progress that. Don’t worry about it.

Your strata manager sounds like a pain in the neck.

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Sir Humphrey
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21/11/2017 - 8:14 am
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Imogen Bannister said
... I, the Secretary, called a Strata Committee meeting in relation to a minor renovation... The Strata Committee was very careful to follow due process. However, the Strata Manager got most irrate.  We were shocked at his reaction and decided it must be because we had inadvertently avoided having to pay for a meeting. We pointed out that we followed due process and were entitled to call a Strata Committee Meeting as a result of the special resolution at the AGM...

Not only that. The committee is entitled to have a (properly convened)  meeting any time it cares to do so, with or without the strata manager. Remember the manager is there to provide a service to the owners corp, not the other way around. The buck stops with the committee so it should have a meeting any time it believes there are matters that require its attention, whether that suits the strata manager or not. 

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Imogen Bannister
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21/11/2017 - 8:33 pm
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Thank you both for your comments. I realise we can call SC meetings whenever we like but we have another minor renovation which we would like to follow through ASAP following due process but because the By-Law is not registered the SM is saying we have to pay for a general meeting (that nobody needs to attend). Without a doubt our SM is trying to coerce us into paying for all meetings.  It was his extremely rude and unusually quick response to my Minutes that made me question what was he so upset about. A few days earlier in an email he eluded to a minor renovation requiring a paid meeting. A number of emails from him since have contained scaremongering terminology.  Certainly not the guidance and support you would expect from a Strata Manager. Our SC is aware there is a difference between Strata Rules and Regulations and the revenue raising policies of our Strata Managers. I hope other OCs quickly work that out too!

For now I guess the best we can do is instruct him to get organised and register the By-Law. Then of course, look for another SM when his contract is due for renewal. 

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scotlandx
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21/11/2017 - 9:40 pm
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Oh for goodness sake.  What a load of cr*p. 

Ask him why he hasn’t registered the by-law, and if he has not done so to do it immediately.  Point out to him that if you are required to have a GM, he can’t charge you because it is solely due to his failure to do his job.

I have just done one and you get the certificate of title back in a week.

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