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A law unto themselves

By-law blues (25/6/2011)

My neighbour plays his banjo on his balcony, smokes by the swimming pool and stores stuff in his car space.  Surely this is against the by-laws. – Irritated, Illawarra.

OK, that’s totally made up but that question and 90 percent of the real ones that I get would receive the same initial response: “What do your by-laws say?”

So go on, ask yourself what would your by-laws say about the banjo-strumming, smoking, car space stuffing neighbour. And don’t say ‘the usual’  because the chances are your by-laws are different to most other buildings around you.

You certainly can’t, as many do, assume that they’re the same as the current “model” by-laws in the Strata Management Act.

Even when by-laws were brought into line 14 years ago – when all strata schemes came under model by-laws published in the Act at that time – there were differences.

For instance, any special by-laws that may have been in place for individual schemes were retained.

Then, new schemes created after that could either adopt the model by-laws or adopt their own variations on the basic rules and regs. That means even more differences and then, of course, there are all the by-laws you’ve added over the years to deal with issues specific to your strata scheme.

Once by-laws are in play for any scheme, that’s how they stay unless they are changed by special resolution of its owners.  So if your scheme adopted the model by-laws wholesale a few years ago and they were later changed in the Act, you are still under the previous model by-laws, not the new ones.

Confused yet?

To get the most up-to-date version of your by-laws, your Executive Committee secretary or strata manager will have a copy or they may be on your building’s website, if it has one.

As a last resort, tenants have to be given a copy so you could borrow them from the renters next door.

Jimmy will be answering your questions live on air on the James Valentine afternoon show on ABC 702 next Tuesday, June 28.

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