Flat Chat Strata Forum Common Property Current Page

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  • #56934
    walker316
    Flatchatter

    Hi, I live in Victoria in a block of units. There is no committee but some of the other lot owners want to install CCTV on common area.

    Im not keen on it so Im wondering whether this would be classed as a ”significant alteration” to the common property? I think it would be. Is there any Vic case law that says what the definition of a significant alteration is? Would CCTV fall under the category of significant alteration? Cheers

Viewing 7 replies - 1 through 7 (of 7 total)
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  • #56949
    Jimmy-T
    Keymaster

    It would be a significant alteration.

    If you’re not keen, ask the committee who would be storing the images, how secure they would be, who would have access to them and how often they would be erased.

    At least that would get people thinking ag about privacy issues.

    Also, under some weird quirk in WHS legislation, you may have to put up signs warning peple that they are under video surveillance.

    Present all that and your committee might decide it’s all too hard.

    #56957
    Austman
    Flatchatter

    Im not keen on it so Im wondering whether this would be classed as a ”significant alteration” to the common property? I think it would be.

    I know many OCs in Victoria that have installed CCTV and it’s not been considered a ”significant alteration”.   The OC Act defines it more clearly in s.52:  “An owners corporation must not make a significant alteration to the use or appearance of the common property”.

    CCTV doesn’t much alter the use or appearance of common property at all, let alone “significantly”. If a committee existed, it alone could approve it.  Else an ordinary resolution of the OC should be enough.

    There are actually very few legal privacy issues:  some required signage, no sound recording and no observing private (lot) areas.

    I agree about deciding on the footage access etc.  The OC should establish how that will be done.

    #58599
    walker316
    Flatchatter
    Chat-starter

    So I am confused.

    One post says it would be a significant alteration, another says it would not.

    I would have thought it would be given you’re installing something new to common property – Is there any case law regarding what constitutes a significant alteration?

    #58603
    Jimmy-T
    Keymaster

    Installing security cameras would be a significant alteration because it would involve attaching cameras to the walls, plus the wiring, plus having an impact or the OC’s duty to inform tradespeople that they might be being filmed while working in the building, plus having a potential impact on residents’ sense of privacy.

    I’m guessing that the schemes cited by Austman (above) that decided it wasn’t a significant alteration never had that proposition tested at VCAT.  Like parking on common property because you can’t be bothered to open your garage door, just because nobody complains doesn’t make it right.

    The Consumer Affairs Victoria web page on this says:

    Your owners corporation (formerly body corporate) can only make significant alterations to the use or appearance of its common property if the alterations are:

    • listed in the maintenance plan or

    • approved by special resolution at a general meeting or

    • composed of works for the upgrading, renovating or improving of the common property, and

    • the estimated total cost is double annual total fees, or

    • the works require a planning building permit, and

    • a special resolution is passed.

    Note it says “use or appearance” – CCTV cameras would tick both of those boxes.

    As for Victoria, this web page has an interesting take on it.

    But if your committee is planning to install CCTV without a special resolution, take the issue to CAV or VCAT and see what they say – that is how strata law is defined and distilled.

    Legally, the term “significant alteration” appears in Victoria’s strata laws but not in NSW, which only refers to changes in and additions to common property in Section 108:

     (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.

     

    • This reply was modified 3 weeks ago by .
    #58643
    tina
    Flatchatter

    It is very important to know who owns / controls the images recorded by those cameras. They could end up in the hands of paedophiles or used to work out what the hours when a home is unoccupied.

    Victorian Case Law: I googled “Victorian case law security camera VCAT” and navigated through to the following case:

    Mote V Eydlish VCAT REFERENCE: OC172/2010

    To find the above case, I typed “surveillance camera” in the search box in the top right of the screen.

    To find other past VCAT decisions, go to

    AustLib Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) 1998-

    I live in NSW. Our Owners Corp successfully applied to remove surveillance cameras which were installed without permission of the Owners Corporation. NSW also has a Surveillance Devices Act which forbids unauthorised recording of other people’s activities.

    #58645
    Austman
    Flatchatter

    I agree that s.52 of the Owners Corporations Act 2006 can always be challenged at VCAT.

    I disagree that installing a CCTV system would be a significant change to the use of common property.

    As for significant change to the appearance of common property, the CCTV systems that my OCs have installed are quite discrete.  Considering the common areas where they installed already have regular lights, emergency lights, exit lights, smoke alarms and water sprinklers, the cameras make pretty much zero difference appearance wise.   I suppose it could depend on the installation.

    If a CCTV system is installed that only covers common or public areas, records vision only and has the required signage displayed, it should meet all the legal requirements for a residential OC in VIC.

     

     

     

    #58650
    Jimmy-T
    Keymaster

    I googled “Victorian case law security camera VCAT” and navigated through to the following case:
    Mote V Eydlish VCAT REFERENCE: OC172/2010

    That case is very interesting but it concerns an owner installing cameras on common property without permission. We are discussing whether or not an OC needs to pass a special resolution to install security or surveillance cameras.  I wasn’t able to find any other relevant references to security cameras in the VCAT records.

    I’m not sure that the various Surveillance Acts would apply here because the installation of the cameras would have the implicit approval of the owners. Provided it was properly minuted and signage was installed and it didn’t look into private property, I don’t think those Acts would apply.

    Austman said:

    I agree that s.52 of the Owners Corporations Act 2006 can always be challenged at VCAT. I disagree that installing a CCTV system would be a significant change to the use of common property.

    Perhaps we can agree to disagree.  Until such times as someone takes a strata scheme to VCAT to challenge them on not having passed a special resolution before installing cameras we will never know for sure.

    As we often say on these pages, there are no StrataKops patrolling schemes looking for by-law breaches.  And if nobody in a scheme is worried about the installation of cameras, it’s not a problem, regardless of whether or not it’s strictly legal.

     

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