Bye-bye to bad old by-laws?


Tucked away in a corner of the new strata laws is a smart-thinking provision that threatens to be a complete waste of time.

Quite simply, it says all owners corporations have to review their by-laws within a year of the laws coming into effect on November 30.

So, does this mean that so every owner in every strata scheme in NSW is going to meticulously read their by-laws – which would be a first for many of us – then compare them with the new model by-laws or even with changed attitudes in their unit block?

Find the compulsory new by-laws for pre-1996 schemes here.
Find the  optional or model by-laws (for new schemes) here.

Of course not.  More likely, at your next AGM your chairman will ask if anyone wants to change the by-laws, and mumble something about it being an expensive process that requires legal advice.

Then they will explain that, anyway, you aren’t going to get the 75 percent vote you need because the committee has managed to collectively corral 45 percent of the vote under new laws that turn proxy farming into share-cropping.

And that will be it.  Your by-laws have been “reviewed” and everyone can stumble onwards with the same outdated rules that you have suffered under for years.

In theory, this review of by-laws is a great idea but it deserves a lot more legislative heft behind it.

The new laws should have said if you want to adopt any of the regulation model by-laws to fill a gap or replace the equivalent in your scheme, you just need a simple majority of 51 percent or more voting at your AGM.

For example, the majority of people in your building might like to be able to hang washing out on their balcony because it is cheaper and more environmentally responsible than running electric tumble dryers.

But your by-laws forbid you from even hanging washing in your lounge room, if it can be seen from outside.

Hang on, though. Here’s a carefully thought out by-law already to go.  Number 14 in the model by-laws says you can hang washing out on your balcony, just not over the balustrade and not all day, every day.

Of course, this would infuriate diehards who believed drying washing on balconies marked the end of civilisation.

And when it only takes a 25 percent vote to block changes, the chances of any sensible improvement happening are slim to anorexic.

You’ll find a link to the new model by-laws on flat-chat.com.au.

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