By-Laws - Careful consideration required as to form of by-laws relating to works

07/10/2015

Often at Watson & Watson we receive enquiries as to the drafting of by-laws for all aspects of strata living.  Strata living is living in relatively confined areas with neighbours who are brought together essentially as purchasers or tenants of homes.  The Owner of a unit has little choice as to who are the Owners or Occupiers of the adjacent units. 

By-laws assist the proper management of the strata complex.  By-laws are the rules of the owners of strata units to help in the efficient running of the strata schemes in a way that seems to be fair and appropriate for the owners of the building.  There are model by-laws which assist in considering general aspects of laws relating to the building. 

There are often special by-laws which relate to particular elements for the use of common property by one or other of the Owners. 

Common property is all the property which is not part of a particular lot.  This itself is in many circumstances difficult to ascertain.  Usually the upgrade of a unit for example, bathroom or kitchen will in some way involve the use of the common property. 

The Owners Corporation and persons such as the Executive Committee or Strata Manager have their views as to the requirements of Lot Owners who wish to carry out work for example, addition of balconies, use of roof space, use of garden area, use of parts of the property for parking, installation of flooring, or upgrading a bathroom or kitchen within their individual lots  This work will more often than not require the appropriate consent of the Owners Corporation.

Similarly there are often differences of opinion as to the basis that an individual Lot Owner may be granted use of part of the common property.

Once there is general agreement in principle as to what might be agreed and the terms by which a Lot Owner may be able to install, for example, a timber floor, or install solar panels on the roof, there needs to be an accurate by-law dealing with the conditions of consent including the responsibility for the ongoing maintenance of the works.

If there is to be building works one needs to consider the terms under which the building works could be carried out.  It is not uncommon that the person undertaking the works has one view and the Owners Corporation or other members of the Executive Committee or other owners may have a different view.  One needs to be properly consider what is good for the building. 

There are a number of laws relating to the requirements concerning construction of buildings in general and in particular residences.  Generally the Owners Corporation  wants to ensure that any work undertaken within a lot will not adversely affect the building.  This is common during the carrying out of the works and following completion of the works.

There are many standard “by-laws” however, serious consideration needs to be had to what is appropriate where there are building works of any nature being undertaken within a building.  If for example, the Owner of a residential unit on one level wishes to install timber flooring the by-law that is agreed to, will usually become the generic by-law for similar works in other units within the building.

Consideration needs to be given as to what is the best for the building.  Often there is no such consideration.

Further, it is our experience that if reasonable terms are included in a by-law then it is more likely that the “by-law” will be approved by the Owners Corporation in a general meeting.  Often the standard off the shelf by-law will be inappropriate.  You need to consider this.

If you are intending to undertake renovation works to your unit and do not know where to start, are unsure as to what you can or cannot do or what the Owners Corporation will allow or disallow, please do not hesitate to telephone Richard Watson to discuss on 9221 6011.

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