Know your Strata?

Know your Strata?

With strata communities in NSW adjusting to major reforms, this issue addresses questions that have emerged for strata schemes. We cover the topics of pets, electronic communications, strata management, tenant participation and more.

Test your knowledge with the questions below.

Q: Can a strata scheme ban pets if they are currently allowed?

A: A strata by-law cannot be harsh, unconscionable or oppressive. A by-law could not ban existing pets. However a new by-law passed could ban any future pets from being allowed in the strata scheme. This would require at least 75% of the owners at a general meeting to agree to the updated by-law.

A strata scheme cannot ban assistance animals.

Q: As an owner, do I need permission to phone in to a strata meeting?

A: An owners corporation does not need to formally approve an owner phoning in to a meeting. However voting methods, other than voting in person, must first be approved. This requires a majority vote of the owners at a general meeting. Find out more about alternative ways to vote.

Q: What if all the owners want to sell their strata complex? Do we need to follow the collective sale and renewal process?

A: No. If 100% of the owners wish to sell, you can apply directly to the Registrar General to end the strata scheme. Otherwise, before a proposal can be considered, you need to follow the steps and meet the requirements in the Collective sale and renewal process.

Q: How do we change our strata managing agent?

A: An owners corporation can change managing agents by a majority vote of the owners at a general meeting. First, check the terms of the contract with the strata managing agent. It will outline early exit fees that the owners corporation will need to pay and other conditions that will apply.

If someone is unsatisfied with duties performed by the strata managing agent, they should ask a strata committee member to raise the issue at a meeting. The strata committee can check if the agent is performing the duties according to the contract they negotiated with them. They may also choose to discuss the situation with the strata managing agent and seek a resolution.

If a strata managing agent keeps failing to perform the duties in their contract, a person with voting rights can write to the secretary with a motion to change the strata managing agent. This can then be voted on at the next meeting.

In the case of unsatisfactory performance, an owners corporation may decide to apply to the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal (NCAT) to end the contract. This could result in them being able to end the contract without having to pay exit fees.

Strata communities should be aware that some contracts will end on 30 May 2017 as a result of the new strata laws setting a 3-year maximum term for strata managing agent appointments. The new laws allowed pre-existing strata managing contracts of more than 3 years to continue in their role for up to 6 months from when the new laws started (on 30 November 2016).

Q: As a tenant, how can I encourage the owners to consider adopting a pet-friendly by-law when they review their by-laws?

A: You can raise this matter with your landlord or property manager. This involves asking the landlord to submit a motion to a meeting for the owners to consider adopting a pet-friendly by-law. This could be based on one of the options in the model by-laws, for example.

Changing to a pet friendly by-law may be attractive to other residents and could make it easier for landlords to rent out property in the strata complex. Your landlord is not obliged to raise this matter on your behalf, however.

If your strata scheme has a tenant representative, you could also bring up the issue with them.

Q: How can I find out about key decisions as a tenant?

A: Your landlord (or property agent) is responsible for completing a tenancy notice. This includes providing your name and address (or email address) to the owners corporation within 14 days of a new lease. This allows the secretary to keep the strata roll up-to-date. It is an offence for a landlord to fail to lodge the tenancy notice with the owners corporation.

Once you appear on the strata roll, you will be notified of upcoming meetings, including the Annual General Meeting. You can attend meetings of the owners corporation (which all owners automatically belong to) as an observer. You may be excluded from the meeting however when certain matters are discussed, such as financial matters.

If your landlord or property manager has not completed a tenancy notice after you have requested them to, you can let us know so we can help resolve this matter on your behalf.