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Clean slate

Many older apartment buildings in Sydney were never intended to last as long as they have. So what do you do when your block has passed it’s use-by date?

Q: We live in an ocean front unit block which has had plenty of money spent on curing concrete cancer and there is still a lot more to be spent. It has been suggested we knock the entire building down and start again. I believe we need 100% agreement from all the owners for this to go ahead. Would you know if there is legislation pending to reduce this to 75%.
Seaspray, Sydney

A: Yes, you do need unanimity and yes, I’m told there is such legislation in the offing but rather than wait for politicians, I’d be looking for a sympathetic developer to put together a proposal that guaranteed existing owners new apartments in the new building and allowed the developer to make their profit from extra apartments that they were able to build into their plans.

Q: We own a small building of four units and are in the process of strata subdivision. Which model by-laws would be suitable and where can I get information about them? What special conditions can you have, such as replacing floor coverings with timber? Also, two upstairs units are rented out. How can one control noise when the owners live downstairs?
Anxious, Eastern Suburbs

A: You need have a rummage through the Real Estate and Renting section of the Office of Fair Trading’s website (www.fairtrading.nsw.gov.au). Click on the “Strata” section and download a document called Strata Living which includes most of what you need to know about running a strata building, including “model” by-laws that cover things like pets and floors.

You can alter most of these to suit your circumstances, provided the changes are acceptable under state laws. You will also find a copy of a good basic pet by-law on this website.

On the matter of tenants, they have to abide by the same rules as owners which means they are not allowed to interfere with the peace and quiet of other residents. Go back to the home page of the OFT website and you’ll find a section for tenants and landlords. There you’ll discover yet more documents that explain your and your tenants’ rights and responsibilities – and what happens if either party misbehaves.

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