New strata laws working well on year anniversary

This week marked the first anniversary of new strata laws across New South Wales.

They appear to have worked well. There were over 90 changes implemented by the then Innovation and Better Regulations Minister Victor Dominello.

The new laws for apartments modernised strata laws to reflect 21st Century living in the biggest overhaul in four decades.

There are around 90,000 working strata schemes across the state ranging from duplexes to those with 100s of flats. The state recently registered its 96,000th strata. More than a few have disappeared over the years.

Some two million NSW residents currently live in the apartments, units and townhouses, and that is set to rise dramatically from the trend of downsizers into apartment living. 

The new rules effected everyone who owned or rented with the laws marking the most significant reforms since 1973 revisions. 

Some changes could be implemented quickly while others will still take time - especially the reform that paved the way for urban renewal by the compulsory demolition particularly of well-position small, older apartment blocks on large land holdings. There have been a few easy gets on this front with owners delighted at the money on offer from developers.

NSW was the first place in the world with strata title in 1961, so there is no doubting they needed modernisation. There were modern day issues to address - issues such as using BBQs on apartment balconies.

Around 30% of schemes in the Sydney date back more than three decades.

Many of the new by-laws only apply to new strata schemes, but could be adopted if older strata embraced them.

All strata schemes had to have reviewed their own by-laws by 30 November. 

Owners corporations were to determine by-laws that best suited their strata.

The existing by-laws that apply to your strata scheme depend on the date the strata plan was registered.

If, as a result of the latest review, your scheme proposes changes to the by-laws, these must be put to a special resolution vote at a meeting of the owners corporation.

Any new by-laws must also be registered with the NSW Office of the Registrar General within six months after the special resolution. 

A by-law must not be harsh, so they for instance cannot restrict children, and cannot restrict the keeping of an assistance animal. Pets are a matter for each strata to work out themselves.

A copy of your scheme's by-laws is kept on the strata roll and is available from either the secretary of the owners corporation or from your managing agent.

While things have gone seamlessly, there appears to be a need for some review from Macquarie Street.

It has been suggested a loophole emerged after owners took action at the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal (NCAT) against a resident who broke the bylaws by ripping up her carpet to use the concrete slab as flooring. It emerged they could not, under current rules, impose a fine on her.  

Of course short term letting is the biggest unresolved strata issue, which is still subject to NSW parliamentary review.

This article was first published in the Saturday Daily Telegraph.

Jonathan Chancellor

Jonathan Chancellor

Jonathan Chancellor is one of Australia's most respected property journalists, having been at the top of the game since the early 1980s. Jonathan co-founded the property industry website Property Observer and has written for national and international publications.

NSW Strata Laws

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