New Strata Act Section 110 Minor Renovations by owners | Hard floors and tough decisions | Flat Chat Forum: Your Questions Answered




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New Strata Act Section 110 Minor Renovations by owners
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clau2077
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11/12/2016 - 2:12 am
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Hi Forum,

I refer the forum to the below

STRATA SCHEMES MANAGEMENT ACT 2015 - SECT 110 release Nov 30, 2016

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.

(c) installing or replacing wood or other hard  floors,

  • My strata manager advised I need to wait to April 2017 for the next AGM to obtain approval to install timber floorboards. As the new law requires such works to be approved by ordinary resolution at a general meeting. And hence needs to be raised at the next AGM in April 2017
  • I have severe eczema which is greatly exacerbated by carpets. I have obtained two doctors certificates (from my GP and dermatologist) stating for health reasons I need timber floorboards installed in my apartment over carpets as soon as possible
  • I will be replying to the strata manager with an email requesting his approval or the executive committee for timber floorboards to be installed on health grounds. Together with providing him the usual information such as the underlay sound acoustic certificate, when works are to be carried out, the type of floating floor product I'm using...etc

Given the new law section 110 is so new and untested. What possibility is there the strata manager or executive committee can approve works on health grounds without me having to wait for the AGM in April 2017?

Thank you

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Lady Penelope
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11/12/2016 - 11:51 am
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There is an alternative to waiting until the April 2017 AGM to have your Motion raised. You can write to the Secretary and request an earlier additional General Meeting (i.e. an EGM). However, the Secretary may require that you need the support of other Lot owners to call an additional general meeting (see the qualifications in s19(4)). 

Section 19 Other general meetings

 

(1) The secretary or a strata committee of an owners corporation may convene a general meeting (that is not an annual general meeting) of the owners corporation at any time.

(2) The secretary of the owners corporation, or another officer if the secretary is absent, must convene a general meeting (that is not an annual general meeting) of the owners corporation as soon as practicable, and not later than 14 days after, receiving a qualified request.

(3) A meeting may be convened on a qualified request even if the first annual general meeting has not been held.

(4) A request is a
"qualified request" for the purposes of this section if it is made by one or more owners of a lot or lots in the strata scheme having a total unit entitlement of at least one-quarter of the aggregate unit entitlements.

 Meeting procedures and voting are described in Schedule 1 of the SSMA (2015).

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JimmyT
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11/12/2016 - 12:11 pm
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The greatest dangers in going ahead without permission are that your flooring will not be compliant with the noise insulation requirements and that you will be ordered to tear it up and start again.  There is also a possibility that the owners corp could make it difficult for your installers to do their work.

The tribunal is unlikely to order you to restore the carpet just because you didn't follow procedure (but they might if your timber floor creates a noise problem for your neighbours).

However, if you are sure of the bona fides of your medical certificates and you are utterly certain that floor will be compliant and not be a nuisance, write to the Owners Corp secretary and ask if you can apply for retrospective approval at the next AGM, promising to remedy any problem with the floor that becomes apparent in the meantime.

Just a word of caution, though.  Claims of asthma and other allergies is the most common loophole used by owners who just want to put down a timber floor and have a friendly doctor prepared to help them out.  So don't be surprised if the strata committee views your approach with a level of skepticism.

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clau2077
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12/12/2016 - 5:48 am
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Thank you both proudsceptic and Jimmy T for your advice.

Can I please get both your opinions on something

I refer you to NSW Fair Trading's new publication "Strata Living" Page 37 Under Renovations in "Top Tips"

The owners corporation can delegate approval for minor renovations to the
strata committee by passing a by-law to permit this.
The owners corporation can also make a by-law to define specific types of work as being ‘cosmetic’ or ‘minor’ renovations. This is as long as it doesn’t conflict the categories of renovation as defined in the Act.
For example, waterproofing would fall into the category of major renovations. The owners corporation could not decide that this is a minor renovation.

Does that mean if the strata committee passed a by-law then approval of a minor renovation like installing timber floorboards would not have to wait to the AGM in 2017?

And hence approvals for minor renovations no longer requires a Lot owner to get the approval of the owners corporation by general resolution

Thereby giving approval powers of minor renovations to the strata committee and hence speeding up the approval process as a general resolution isn't required??

Thank You

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JimmyT
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clau2077 said
Does that mean if the strata committee passed a by-law then approval of a minor renovation like installing timber floorboards would not have to wait to the AGM in 2017?

The strata committee can't pass by-laws.  That can only be done at a general meeting with a vote of 75 percent (of those voting) approving it.

This might be a sensible thing for the future but it's not going to help you right now. 

If you are in a rush, ask the secretary for an extraordinary general meeting right now (although you may have to pay the costs of sending out notices etc), or get the support of 25 per cent of owners to compel the calling of an EGM, as per the advice given by PS in item 2.

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excathedra
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12/12/2016 - 3:31 pm
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Can we take a step back?  Subject to variations in individual schemes, it is not a case of "you need permission to instal a wooden floor". 

The NSW standard by-laws state:

"An owner of a lot must ensure that all floor space within the lot is covered or
otherwise treated to an extent sufficient to prevent the transmission from the floor space of noise likely to disturb the peaceful enjoyment of the owner or occupier of another lot."

I think this would apply irrespective of whether the Owners Corporation gave you permission.  If I were on a Strata Committee that received the sort of request that Clau2077 proposes, I would say that we could neither give nor withhold such permission.  The crucial test is not the readings on acoustic testing and the claims for the underlay provided by the floorboard marketers but, rather, the likely impact on neighbours (mainly, but not inevitably, on the floor below).

Readings in a lab setting do not necessarily predict the impact of footfall on a light sleeper below at 3 a m.  Lawyers may have a good — and lucrative — time arguing about the significance of "likely" in this context.

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JimmyT
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12/12/2016 - 3:56 pm
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excathedra said
The NSW standard by-laws state: "An owner of a lot must ensure that all floor space within the lot is covered or otherwise treated to an extent sufficient to prevent the transmission from the floor space of noise likely to disturb the peaceful enjoyment of the owner or occupier of another lot."

I think this would apply irrespective of whether the Owners Corporation gave you permission. 

By-laws only apply where they have been adopted by the strata scheme (or if the scheme is pre-1996 and the standard by-laws have not been altered).

Even so, the standard by-law and the new Section 110 are not mutually exclusive. If an owner can get permission under section 110, it would still be subject to any by-laws that may be in place.  But a by-law that specified the standards applicable to flooring would not necessarily imply that permission had been given.  

By-laws can't supersede the laws (although they can qualify them). However, I wonder if Section 110 supersedes any existing by-laws that prevent owners from laying hard floors.

You are right that the critical test is not the technical quality of the insulation but its effectiveness in situ.  However, the lab test does provide an indication of how effective the insulation is likely to be.  

That said, permission to lay a hard floor would not mean the lot owner was immune from action by a neighbour who was later disturbed by noise.

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