New South Wales updates strata laws

New South Wales updates strata laws
New South Wales updates strata laws

New South Wales has modernised its strata laws to reflect 21st Century living with updated rules that came into effect this week.

It is the biggest overhaul in four decades. It was 1961 when Strata Plan No 1 was registered at an Enfield walkup. Now the Strata Schemes Management Act 2015 and Strata Schemes Development Act 2015 marks the most significant reforms since 1973 revisions. 

There are around 90,000 strata schemes across the state ranging from duplexes to those with 100s of flats.

More than two million NSW residents live in the apartments, units and townhouses, and that is set to rise dramatically from downsizers. 

The new rules will effect anyone who owns or rents.

Some changes will be noticed quickly while others will take time - especially the controversial reform that paves the way for urban renewal by the compulsory demolition particularly of well-position small, older apartment blocks on large land holdings.

There's over 90 changes being implemented by the Innovation and Better Regulations Minister Victor Dominello.

NSW was the first place in the world with strata title back in 1961, so there is no doubting they needed modernisation. Around 30% of schemes in the Sydney date back more than 30 years. 

Many of the new model by-laws only apply to new strata schemes. So the model rules including the pro-pet proposal won't see pets run amok in every strata. The changes will likely facilitate some owners corporations implementing by-laws that set limits on the number of people living in a unit, albeit with no limits on family members.

One of the most important changes relates to renovations, which ought make it a little easier for cosmetic alterations.

Strata schemes can pay the council to issue parking fines for pesky unauthorised use of the visitors’ spaces.

There are some modernisation on how a strata is run, such as allowing owners to use technology to communicate on issues, in meetings and casting a vote.   

Tenants will have more rights so if more than 50% of the building is tenanted, a tenant representative can be nominated as a non-voting member of the strata committee.

The most controversial change is the ability for the owners’ corporation to decide to sell or redevelop their building.

Instead of the previous requirement of unanimous consent, the 75% threshold is a generous gift to the development lobby especially as each apartment will have one vote, rather than be based on the more worthy unit entitlement.

It is extraordinary the lawmakers would seek to have the penthouse owner's voting entitlement the same as the viewless studio down near the laundry in the basement.

Turmoil will follow at the expense of individual property rights. All it takes is for anyone - it does not have to be a lot owner - to give a written proposal to the owners corporation for a sale or redevelopment of the strata scheme to be considered. 

Any strata then needs just half the owners - perhaps two of the four owners - to pass a resolution at a general meeting to progress the prospect further along.

The intending stayput owners do get around 74 days notice of the rug being pulled from under them with limited recourse.

Jonathan Chancellor

Jonathan Chancellor

Jonathan Chancellor is one of our authors. Jonathan has been writing about property since the early 1980s and is editor-at-large of Property Observer.

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New South Wales Strata Law

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