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  • #11608

    Hello,

    I am receiving conflicting advice about By-Laws related to the new NSW Strata laws introduced in Nov 2016.

    The lawyers, who put together our new By-Laws, have the opinion Minor and Major Renovations only need to listed in a register.

    The Minor Renovations register to be kept by the Committee and the Major Renovations to be kept by the building manager.

    No extra By-Laws will be required.

    Our building manager is of the opinion that every Minor and Major Renovation requires a by-Law.

    I have searched for an authoritative source to give the Committee some direction on this matter but have failed to come up with an answer.

    Do we or don’t we need a By-Law for every renovation whether Minor or Major and is there an authoritative source I can use to show the owners?

    Thanks in advance.

    #29314
    Jimmy-T
    Jimmy-T
    Keymaster

    The critical factor in all this is whether or not the renovations have an impact on common property.  Having said that, the Act defines renovations into three categories – cosmetic, minor and major (see sections 108-110 of the Management Act, and section 28 if the Regulations below).

    In short:

    • you don’t need permission for cosmetic work;
    • you do need permission, but not a special resolution by-law, for minor work – and that permission can be given by the strata committee if they have been empowered to do so by a by-law passed at a general meeting.
    • You need a by-law for major work that involves alteration to common property .

    The definitions of cosmetic, minor and major are contained in the extracts below.

    Based on your post, both your lawyer and building manager are wrong (although they may not have expressed their actual view clearly enough).

    Cosmetic work doesn’t require any notification, minor work requires permission (but not a by-law) major work requires a by-law.  Obviously, in granting permission or passing a by-law, there would be a record of the work planned.  I don’t know of any “register” required by strata law but that might just be a gap in my knowledge. 

    108   Changes to common property

    (1) Procedure for authorising changes to common property
    An owners corporation or an owner of a lot in a strata scheme may add to the common property, alter the common property or erect a new structure on common property for the purpose of improving or enhancing the common property.

    (2)  Any such action may be taken by the owners corporation or owner only if a special resolution has first been passed by the owners corporation that specifically authorises the taking of the particular action proposed.

    (3) Ongoing maintenance
    A special resolution under this section that authorises action to be taken in relation to the common property by an owner of a lot may specify whether the ongoing maintenance of the common property once the action has been taken is the responsibility of the owners corporation or the owner.

    (4)  If a special resolution under this section does not specify who has the ongoing maintenance of the common property concerned, the owners corporation has the responsibility for the ongoing maintenance.

    (5)  A special resolution under this section that allows an owner of a lot to take action in relation to certain common property and provides that the ongoing maintenance of that common property after the action is taken is the responsibility of the owner has no effect unless:
    (a)  the owners corporation obtains the written consent of the owner to the making of a by-law to provide for the maintenance of the common property by the owner, and
    (b)  the owners corporation makes the by-law.

    (6)  The by-law:
    (a)  may require, for the maintenance of the common property, the payment of money by the owner at specified times or as determined by the owners corporation, and
    (b)  must not be amended or repealed unless the owners corporation has obtained the written consent of the owner concerned.

    (7)  Sections 143 (2), 144 (2) and (3) and 145 apply to a by-law made for the purposes of this section in the same way as they apply to a common property rights by-law.

    Note.

     A new by-law or other changes to the by-laws for a strata scheme must be approved by a special resolution of the owners corporation (see section 141)

    109   Cosmetic work by owners

    (1)  The owner of a lot in a strata scheme may carry out cosmetic work to common property in connection with the owner’s lot without the approval of the owners corporation.

    (2)  Cosmetic work includes but is not limited to work for the following purposes:

    (a)  installing or replacing hooks, nails or screws for hanging paintings and other things on walls,
    (b)  installing or replacing handrails,
    (c)  painting,
    (d)  filling minor holes and cracks in internal walls,
    (e)  laying carpet,
    (f)  installing or replacing built-in wardrobes,
    (g)  installing or replacing internal blinds and curtains,
    (h)  any other work prescribed by the regulations for the purposes of this subsection.

    (3)  An owner of a lot must ensure that:
    (a)  any damage caused to any part of the common property by the carrying out of cosmetic work by or on behalf of the owner is repaired, and
    (b)  the cosmetic work and any repairs are carried out in a competent and proper manner.

    (4)  The by-laws of a strata scheme may specify additional work that is to be cosmetic work for the purposes of this section.

    (5)  This section does not apply to the following work:
    (a)  work that consists of minor renovations for the purposes of section 110,
    (b)  work involving structural changes,
    (c)  work that changes the external appearance of a lot, including the installation of an external access ramp,
    (d)  work that detrimentally affects the safety of a lot or common property, including fire safety systems,
    (e)  work involving waterproofing or the plumbing or exhaust system of a building in a strata scheme,
    (f)  work involving reconfiguring walls,
    (g)  work for which consent or another approval is required under any other Act,
    (h)  any other work prescribed by the regulations for the purposes of this subsection.

    (6)  Section 108 does not apply to cosmetic work carried out in accordance with this section.

    110   Minor renovations by owners

    (1)  The owner of a lot in a strata scheme may carry out work for the purposes of minor renovations to common property in connection with the owner’s lot with the approval of the owners corporation given by resolution at a general meeting. A special resolution authorising the work is not required.

    (2)  The approval may be subject to reasonable conditions imposed by the owners corporation and cannot be unreasonably withheld by the owners corporation.

    (3)  Minor renovations include but are not limited to work for the purposes of the following:
    (a)  renovating a kitchen,
    (b)  changing recessed light fittings,
    (c)  installing or replacing wood or other hard floors,
    (d)  installing or replacing wiring or cabling or power or access points,
    (e)  work involving reconfiguring walls,
    (f)  any other work prescribed by the regulations for the purposes of this subsection.

    (4)  Before obtaining the approval of the owners corporation, an owner of a lot must give written notice of proposed minor renovations to the owners corporation, including the following:
    (a)  details of the work, including copies of any plans,
    (b)  duration and times of the work,
    (c)  details of the persons carrying out the work, including qualifications to carry out the work,
    (d)  arrangements to manage any resulting rubbish or debris.

    (5)  An owner of a lot must ensure that:
    (a)  any damage caused to any part of the common property by the carrying out of minor renovations by or on behalf of the owner is repaired, and
    (b)  the minor renovations and any repairs are carried out in a competent and proper manner.

    (6)  The by-laws of a strata scheme may provide for the following:
    (a)  additional work that is to be a minor renovation for the purposes of this section,
    (b)  permitting the owners corporation to delegate its functions under this section to the strata committee.

    (7)  This section does not apply to the following work:
    (a)  work that consists of cosmetic work for the purposes of section 109,
    (b)  work involving structural changes,
    (c)  work that changes the external appearance of a lot, including the installation of an external access ramp,
    (d)  work involving waterproofing,
    (e)  work for which consent or another approval is required under any other Act,
    (f)  work that is authorised by a by-law made under this Part or a common property rights by-law,
    (g)  any other work prescribed by the regulations for the purposes of this subsection.

    (8)  Section 108 does not apply to minor renovations carried out in accordance with this section.

    Note.

     Section 132 enables rectification orders to be made against owners of lots for damage caused by work done by owners.

    Strata Schemes Management Regulations

    28   Minor renovations by owners

    Work for the following purposes is prescribed as minor renovations for the purposes of section 110 (3) of the Act:

    (a)  removing carpet or other soft floor coverings to expose underlying wooden or other hard floors,
    (b)  installing a rainwater tank,
    (c)  installing a clothesline,
    (d)  installing a reverse cycle split system air conditioner,
    (e)  installing double or triple glazed windows,
    (f)  installing a heat pump,
    (g)  installing ceiling insulation.

    Note.

    The work prescribed by this clause is subject to the requirements set out in section 110 (7) of the Act, including requirements that it does not involve structural changes, changes to the external appearance of a lot or waterproofing.

    #29323
    Avatar
    Ziggy
    Flatchatter

    Thanks very much for this Jimmy; it is really helpful. I was wondering, however, if you could shed some light on the following?

    At a GM last year, the OC in my building resolved in favour the following motion:

    Minor works renovation bylaw pursuant to sections 110(6)(b) and 136 of the Strata Schemes Management Act 2015 to make an additional by-law in the following terms:

    Special By-law No.X Minor Renovations – Rights

    1. On the conditions set out in this by-law and with the prior consent of the strata committee each Owner has the authority to carry out Minor Renovations to the common property in connection with the Owners’ lot, and, once installed, to maintain the approved Minor Renovations.
    2. The owners’ corporation delegates its power to approve Minor Renovations to the strata committee.
    3. The strata committee, when considering an owners’ proposal to conduct Minor Renovations may impose conditions on any approval and must not unreasonably withhold their approval.

    At the GM, I asked could minor renovations include the following: double-glazed doors, sunshades, awnings, fixed outdoor seating, and/or wall pots. I was told that the list we had been given of minor works (similar to yours above) was “not limited” to just those items listed in the agenda.

    At a recent SC meeting, the committee resolved to approve my installation of an awning on my balcony, which will be fixed to a common property fascia. (There was one there previously.) Now, however, they are they are saying I need to submit a separate bylaw from the one above to be included in a GM for the owners’ approval.

    Therefore, has a bylaw already been approved for such things as the installation of an awning? If so, why do I need a separate bylaw? If not, is the work I’m doing “minor” or “major”?

    #29325
    Jimmy-T
    Jimmy-T
    Keymaster

    I think your committee has got itself into a mess by thinking that 110.6 (b) allows then to include any other changes they want as minor alterations when there are limits on that, including 110.7 (c):

    (7) This section does not apply to the following work:
    (c) work that changes the external appearance of a lot …

    Since they can’t create a by-law that supersedes the Act then anything that changes the outward appearance of the lot – like French windows and, indeed, an awning – would be kicked up to the next level and would, indeed require a by-law that included your acceptance of repairs to and maintenance of the awning and the common property to which it is attached.

    I would urge them to look at passing a catch-all by-law that would include any work like yours that owners could use as an off-the-peg solution where you just added the specifics of the work you wanted to do and they were then covered by it.

    The by-law they have is open to too many erroneous interpretations and should be scrapped and replaced with an new catch-all by-law and a non-exhaustive list of items to which it might apply.

    #37542
    Avatar
    PGI
    Flatchatter

    I have a variation on the above which is part of a suite of renovations I am trying to effect.

    Again it is an awning question. I am proposing to erect a RETRACTABLE awning to my east facing balcony to ease the heat load on my windows. It would only be extended for a couple of hours in the morning during the summer months.

    The question is, is it a major or minor renovation? I accept that if it is a PERMANENT awning then it would change the exterior appearance of the lot and require a special resolution by-law. However on my research a retractable awning seems to be treated in a variety of ways. On balance it seems that you can have it considered as a minor renovation (given that is retractable) and therefore only need a ordinary resolution.

    What are the views of the forum? Has anyone else had any experience with this issue? Thanks

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