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New Laws

Having only this past week been involved in an arm-wrestle with the Office of Fair Trading’s Education and Information department over the content of a new book I’m writing (out soon from Fairfax), I am indebted to the strata managers Linders Property Group for keeping me up to date on changes to the law through their quarterly newsletter.

Did you know, for instance, that the old strata laws were scrapped and replaced by a new one last September? Me neither (I blame Bob Carr and the Cross City Tunnel).

But they were and it seems there’s a bit of confusion about to which strata schemes the new “model” by-laws now apply and which are governed by the old by-laws … and which old by-laws we’re talking about in the first place.

However, it seems that everyone agrees that strata buildings registered after September 1st last year have a new set of rules to follow. Now, most of these model by-laws can be changed but until you do so (by Special Resolution, requiring a vote of not less than 75 percent in favour at a general meeting) you have to abide by them.

For instance, one model by-law states that you have to give your owners corporation 21 days notice before you change your flooring. What happens to people who ignore this isn’t clear – but presumably they can be forced to tear up noisy floorboards and either insulate them or re-lay the carpet. About time too.

And the old by-law about restrictions on moving furniture in and out has been scrapped. So if you’re in a new building and your lifts are clogged at weekends by flitters and shifters, it’s because your EC hasn’t drafted a tailor-made by-law to replace the catch-all clause that used to be there.

The strata laws are getting so complex, with different rules applying, according to the size and/or age of your building, that the next thing the Government needs to do is wipe away the old ones and have a standard set of rules for everyone.

Let’s say as of a set date, every AGM had either to accept the new model by-laws or apply to the OFT for special dispensation to amend them. Then, finally, we’d all be on the same page and I wouldn’t have to count on my strata manager to keep me informed.

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