Our revelation last week that NSW Fair Trading has no idea what double glazing is, even though they specify it in their renovations regulations as being a permitted “minor renovation”, led to the discovery of what appears to be another strata info stuff-up.
In their fact sheet on strata renovations – specifically minor ones that just require simple majority approval, not by-laws – Fair Trading says this:
“Minor renovations include … sustainability measures (such as a clothesline or reverse cycle air conditioner).”
Why does this not feel right? For a start, the Strata Schemes Management Amendment (Sustainability Infrastructure) Bill 2020, which was supposed to define “sustainable” renovations as minor, has yet to make it on to the statute books.
It has been languishing in the Legislative Assembly awaiting review after, you may recall, an Animal Justice Party member of the Legislative Council last year managed to attach an amendment preventing owners corporations from banning pets.
That amendment said: “137B Keeping of animals (1) A by-law has no force or effect to the extent that it purports to unreasonably prohibit the keeping of an animal on a lot.”
The state government apparently balked at the idea of giving free rein to pets in apartments and so its own Bill foundered in the Legislative Assembly.
However, as reported here, just this week it was revived in an amended form in the Legislative Assembly before going back to the Upper House for a final (they hope) rubber stamp.
But there are other important aspects of the Bill, including sustainability measures intended, among other things, to reduce the amount of energy consumed and make its use more efficient.
It would also, for instance, allow for the installation of electric vehicle charging points to be permitted by a simple majority of a strata committee (if it has delegated authority).
Other changes in what appears to be a general tying up of loose ends, and entirely unrelated to sustainability, include a clause forbidding owners corporations from revealing the votes in a secret ballot (overriding the general rule that owners can see any and all records of the Owners Corporation).
Another measure would allow interested parties to ask NCAT to impose financial penalties on owners or residents who breach Tribunal orders (you didn’t know they can’t already do that?)
And yet another allows the owner of several properties to appoint one proxy holder to carry all their proxies, even if that puts them over the statutory limit on proxies of one per 20 lots.
These are all sensible tidying up of the legislation, but we have a question: since when did the installation of air-conditioning become a positive action in sustainability?
Air-con is almost the opposite of sustainable. It uses electricity in ways that are often inefficient. Presumably – hopefully – the wording will be changed when the new laws come into effect.
But until then, once again the body that’s supposed to be providing advice and direction is sending us off on the wrong track – the one that leads to unnecessay conflict – with sloppy misinformation.
NB: This article was edited in light of developments in the NSW Parliament this week