19 May Approval for renovations for strata title property – what you will need and how to obtain it
Many, if not most, types of renovations undertaken to strata titled property require some form of approval from the Owners Corporation. Set out below are the categories of renovations together with details of how the approval process for each category of renovations should be managed pursuant to the Strata Schemes Management Act 2015 (NSW) (‘The Act’).
Section 108 of the Act contemplates the procedure for making changes to common property. Common property” is defined as any part of the parcel that is not comprised in a lot. A “lot” is defined as the cubic space(s)shown as a lot on the floor plan relating to the strata scheme.
Under this section, an owners corporation or an owner may add to or alter the common property, or erect a new structure on the common property, for the purpose of improving or enhancing it. To do this, a special resolution must be passed that specifically authorises the taking of the proposed action. The section further provides that a special resolution may specify whether the ongoing maintenance of the common property is the responsibility of the owners corporation or the owner. However, if the special resolution does not specify who has the ongoing maintenance, it is the responsibility of the owners corporation.
Under this section, a special resolution allowing an owner to take action regarding certain common property and provides that the ongoing maintenance responsibility is the owner’s has no effect unless written consent is obtained from the owner to make a by-law to provide for the maintenance by the owner, and the owners corporation makes the by-law. The by-law may require that, for the maintenance of the common property, the payment of money by the owner at specified times or as determined by the owners’ corporation. It must not be amended or repealed unless the owners corporation has obtained the written consent of the owner.
Section 108 does not apply to either “cosmetic work” or “minor renovations”.
Section 109 of the Act relates to cosmetic work by the owners, which do not need the approval of the owners’ corporation. Cosmetic work includes:
- Filling minor holes and cracks in internal walls,
- Laying carpet, and
- Installing or replacing the following:
- hooks, nails, or screws for hanging paintings and other things on walls, handrails, built-in wardrobes and internal blinds and curtains.
The owner must ensure that any damage caused to common property by carrying out the cosmetic work is repaired, and that the work is carried out in a competent and proper manner. The by-laws may specify additional work that is classified to be cosmetic work.
Section 110 of the Act refers to minor renovations by owners. Minor renovations can be undertaken by an owner with the approval of the owners’ corporation, given by resolution at a general meeting. The approval may be subject to reasonable conditions by the owners’ corporation and cannot be unreasonably withheld. Minor renovations include:
- Renovating a kitchen,
- Changing recessed light fittings,
- Installing or replacing wood or other hard floors,
- Installing or replacing wiring or cabling or power or access points,
- Work involving reconfiguring walls, and
- Any other work prescribed by the Strata Schemes Management Regulations 2016. These are found in clause 28, and include:
- Removing carpet or other soft floor coverings to expose underlying wooden or other hard floors,
- Installing a rainwater tank,
- Installing a clothesline,
- Installing a reverse cycle split system air conditioner,
- Installing double or triple glazed windows,
- Installing a heat pump, and
- Installing ceiling insulation.
Before obtaining approval, the owner must give written notice of proposed minor renovations to the owners’ corporation, including:
- Details of the work (including copies of any plans),
- Duration and times of the work,
- Details of the persons carrying out the work, including qualifications to carry out the work, and
- Arrangements to manage any resulting rubbish or debris.
Like with cosmetic work, the owner must ensure that any damage caused to common property is repaired, and that the work is carried out in a competent and proper manner. The by-laws may specify additional work that is classified to be minor renovations.
All work that is not considered cosmetic work or minor renovations are considered major work. Work that involves waterproofing, structural change or changing the appearance of the building is classified as major work.
Section 111 of the Act provides that an owner must not carry out work on the common property unless the owner is authorised to do so:
- Under this Part (including sections 108, 109 and 110),
- Under a by-law made under this Part or a common property rights by-law, or
- By approval of the owners’ corporation given by special resolution or in any other manner authorised by the by-laws. This requires a 75% majority at a general meeting of the owners’ corporation.
If you are the owner of a strata property who requires assistance with the drafting of special by-laws relating to the renovations or works which affect common property, Harris & Company Solicitors can provide advice. Contact Alexandra Tzavellas at email@example.com or 02 9261 8533.