Strata laws in NSW will soon experience a significant shake-up with over 90 proposed changes to the current legislation set to take effect from November 30 2016. These changes will have the greatest impact on individual owners of strata properties by reducing restrictions on the use of their property and providing greater control in the decision making of the building.
Voting and Meetings
One of the most controversial proposed changes will allow a building to be acquired by a developer should a 75% majority vote of owners agree to sell. The owners within the minority vote will no longer be afforded the protection under the existing provisions which require a unanimous vote of all owners before developer acquisition.
However, changes to the decision making power within meetings will also be made to restrict the number of proxy votes an individual can hold and introducing electronic mechanisms to increase the availability of attendance for owners through phone and video conferencing. These changes appear to be an attempt to ensure that collective decisions are made by the actual property owners and limit the power-play impacts which has been experienced in the past.
Model by-laws will be introduced that will treat smoking as a nuisance and occupants can be ordered to stop if smoking affects common property areas and the current model by-laws dealing with pets will be reversed to allow pets as the default. Model by-laws will still be subject to the strata schemes final decision regarding smoking and pets and the reforms are provided as a guide to assist property owners with the treatment of these matters.
Approval for Renovations and Minor Works
Other changes to the laws include an increase in minor renovation works to be carried out without approval by a general meeting so long as the changes do not impact common areas, as well as an increase in renovation categories that will only require general resolutions.
Investment Property Owners
For owners of investment properties, notification to the owners corporation of registered tenants is set to become easier with proposals that the rental bond register held by Fair Trading will provide automatic notification of any change to the registered tenancy for a property. The owners corporation will also have the ability to set limits to the occupancy of the property but to no less than two adults per bedroom.
Building Defect Bond Scheme
The Building Defect Bond Scheme will require developers to put aside 2% of the building cost for any defects found within two years after the completion of the development. The scheme will take effect from July 1 2017, but will offer owners protection to ensure defects in new developments are rectified, regardless of contract provisions.