Strata Law – New Laws Regarding Changes to Common Property


The New South Wales Government proposes to change the law relating to strata properties.  The change to the law was to commence on 1 July 2016 however has been delayed.

The relevant law in New South Wales is the Strata Schemes Management Act, 1996. There are in excess of 90 changes proposed.  One relates to the requirements for minor works to the common property.

There are two types of property in a Strata Scheme.  Property comprise:

  • “The lot” which is that part of a unit, townhouse or apartment which is owned by the Owner of the unit; and
  • The “common property”.  The common property is owned by all of the Owners of the units in the Strata Scheme together, otherwise known as the Owners Corporation. 

For example, in an apartment in a Strata Scheme “the lot” may comprise the internal areas of a unit, such as the lounge room, kitchen, bathroom and bedrooms.  However other areas in the apartment block such as the footpaths, stairways and driveways would comprise common property.  In addition, some parts of the internal areas of an apartment may also be common property, such as the floor underneath the carpet, and the walls. 

The present New South Wales Legislation provides that if a person wants to make any changes to the common property such as adding to it or altering it, one has to undertake a procedure which was fairly rigorous, namely to ask for a Special Resolution at a General Meeting.  A Special Resolution requires 75% of the Owners in the Strata Scheme to agree to the changes.

For example currently, if a person wants to replace an external wall which faced outside of an apartment complex with a window, that is alter the common property, one would have to first obtain the permission of the Owners Corporation by a Special Resolution made at a General Meeting. 

The proposed new law on strata schemes in New South Wales will provide that in some cases one does not need to obtain a Special Resolution at General Meeting for changes to the common property.  Those changes are as follows:

(a)      Cosmetic work – an Owner will not have to obtain the approval of an Owners Corporation for what is called “cosmetic work”.  Cosmetic work includes the following:

           (i)        Installing or replacing hooks, nails or screws for any paintings.

           (ii)       Installing or replacing handrails.

           (iii)      Painting.

(iv)      Filling minor wholes and cracks.

(v)       Laying carpet.

(b)      Minor renovations – where an Owner wants to carry out a minor renovation to common property one does not need a Special Resolution, but instead needs the approval of the Owners Corporation by Resolution at a General Meeting (not a Special Resolution).  Minor renovations include the follow:

           (i)        Renovating a kitchen.

           (ii)       Changing recessed light fittings.

           (iii)      Installing or replacing wood or other hard floors.

           (iv)      Installing or replacing wiring or cabling or power or access points.

           (v)       Work involving reconfiguring walls.

The result of these changes is that the rules relating to approvals to common property will be altered significantly.  Any person looking to alter their unit, townhouse or villa will need to keep in mind these changes to the law before proceeding with the work.

Watson and Watson, Strata Law Solicitors can assist in advising on complying with rules and legislation about Strata Law issues.  We can also assist in resolving disputes over Strata matters.  Furthermore, we can help draft documents and Applications concerning Court procedures and other disputes.

If you have any enquiries or concerned as to how the proposed new laws will affect your property or are thinking of undertaking renovations or altering your property, please do not hesitate to telephone Richard Watson, our experienced strata solicitor who will be able to advise you.

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