Changes to common property in Strata Schemes – Cosmetic Works, Minor Works

30/08/2018

The law has recently changed regarding the changes that lot owners can make to common property in a strata scheme.

The Strata Schemes Management Act 1996 was the NSW legislation which applied to Strata Schemes up until November 2015.  That legislation under section 65A provided that if a lot owner wanted to add to or alter the common property, the lot owner could only do so if a Special Resolution had first been passed at a General Meeting of the Owners Corporation that authorised that work.

This provision set a high bar for any action by a lot owner regarding common property. So, for example, for changes to common property as small as inserting nails into a common property wall or altering a kitchen so that a floor was altered, required an owner to approach the Owners Corporation and obtain more than 75% agreement in a resolution before the work could proceed.

However the Parliament has recently changed the law with the result that in many cases it is now not necessary to seek approval of the Owners Corporation to make all changes to the common property. 

Those changes are set out in sections 109 and 110 of the Strata Schemes Management Act, 2016.  Section 109 provides that 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.

The list of such work includes installing or replacing hooks, nails or screws for hanging paintings on walls, installing or replacing handrails, painting and installing or replacing internal blinds and curtains.  The result of section 109 is that the owners of lots in such circumstances can proceed to carry out the work without seeking approval.

In section 110 the Act refers to minor renovations by owners.  Section 110 states that minor renovations can be carried out after approval by the Owners Corporation in a General Meeting.  A special resolution is not required.  These works include things such as renovating a kitchen, changing recessed light fittings, installing wood or hard floors, reconfiguring walls.  In the result again, an owner does not have to ensure a special resolution is passed and needs merely to ensure an ordinary resolution is passed at a general meeting with a majority vote for the change.

Watson & Watson can assist you with enquiries if you are contemplating making changes to the common area to which your lot has privilege.  We can also advise you in relation to disputes arising in strata schemes or on making changes in strata schemes in relation to properties.  Our highly experienced Strata Solicitors can also assist and act on your behalf in relation to strata law disputes in the New South Wales Civil and Administrative Tribunal (NCAT) or Courts.  Please contact Richard Watson Senior Strata Solicitor or Shereen Da Gloria his personal assistant to discuss your concerns.

This is only a preliminary view and is not to be taken as legal advice without first contacting Watson & Watson Solicitors on 02 9221 6011.

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