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I have to admit I don’t know everything about strata law – although I seem to know more that a lot of people who get themselves elected to strata committees … and parliament, for that matter.
Anyway, here’s an issue that has me stumped and I need to know the answer for no other reason than I need to know.
In an apartment block not a million miles from where I sit, a renovator has removed the ceiling on the say-so of the block’s building manager.
A near neighbour of the unit in question has objected to this being done without a special resolution by-law. Their reasoning is that throughout the block’s by-laws and even in the “Who’s responsible” common property memorandum issued by Planning NSW (via Fair Trading) original suspended ceilings are considered to be common property.
However, the chair of the building says she has “received legal advice” that, for the purposes of renovation approvals, the suspended ceiling is considered the same as a non-load-bearing wall and is therefore not really common property and its removal was entirely permissible at the discretion of the building manager, acting on behalf of the committee.
FYI: A lot of non-major renovations can be approved by the strata committee, acting for the owners corporation.
Now, I know we hear all sorts of things in strata that we have never encountered before, but this one has me befuddled. Is it really possible that a common property ceiling could be treated the same way as a non-supporting wall (despite what it says in the Planning NSW memorandum)?
Or is this, perhaps, equivocation on a Shakesperean scale to cover up a committee cock-up, and which has little or no basis in planning or strata law.
Or is it something in between?
I have my own opinions but does anyone have anything definitive to change my view?
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