NSW: Strata Schemes Amendments

10 AUG 2021

 

Over the past 6 months there has been various amendments and logistical changes to the Strata Schemes Management Act 2015. It is key for Lot owners in strata schemes to keep up to date with amendments to the Act to ensure they understand their rights and obligations under various by-laws and strata committees. Set out below is a summary of the changes to the Act: 

Keeping of Animals 

Owners have historically fought and debated over the question relating to the keeping of pets in strata schemes. 

Last year, the New South Wales Court of Appeal unanimously decided that an owner’s corporation could not enforce a by-law which imposed a blanket ban on animals residing in properties contained in the strata scheme (Cooper Case). 

The implications of the Cooper Case has extended to strata scheme legislation. On 24 February 2021, the NSW parliament passed the Strata Schemes Management Amendment (Sustainability Infrastructure) Act 2021, which deemed it reasonable for residents to keep an animal or pets on a lot. It ensures that owner’s corporations cannot implement by-laws which are unjust and harsh, unconscionable or oppressive. 

From 24 August 2021 the new amendment will come into force allowing strata owners to have the opportunity to have pets and animals in their lots of a strata scheme. The new S137B in the Strata Schemes Management Amendment (Sustainability Infrastructure) Act 2021 will ensure that it is deemed reasonable to keep an animal on a lot unless the keeping of the animal unreasonably interferes with another occupant’s use and enjoyment of their lot or common property. 

What now?

Owners corporations should now amend their by-laws to allow for pets/animals in a strata scheme. Owners corporations must not ignore the principles of the Cooper Case and those that do will potentially face cost orders from NCAT if lot owners are forced to appeal decisions of strata committees. 

Sustainability Infrastructure 

Along with the changes in relation to the keeping of animals, there are also a large number of amendments commencing under the Act regarding sustainability projects and the management of owners corporations. 

Under the new legislation it makes it easy for strata schemes and corporations to install what is known as “sustainability infrastructure” on the common property. Strata schemes are now allowed to install, remove, modify and replace anything forming part of the common property for environmental purposes which will overall reduce pollution and waste creating a more sustainable and effective development. 

The purposes for which “sustainability infrastructure” can easily be changed relates to anything to do with and not exclusive of reducing the consumption of energy or water including the efficiency of its consumption, infrastructure to reduce and prevent pollution, minimise waste strategies and to facilitate the use of sustainable forms of transport (e.g. installing electric vehicle charging stations).

The new legislation makes it easier for strata schemes to implement new and effective sustainability projects which will increase efficiency and reduce long term environmental problems. An owner’s corporation will be able to implement these changes if a “sustainability infrastructure resolution” is passed. Such a resolution will be passed if a simple majority (i.e. 50% or more) of lot owners present and entitled to vote at the general meeting agree to it. 

If you have any queries relating to changes of the Act or about Strata Schemes and owners corporations generally, please do not hesitate to contact the Property Law team at Marsdens.

The contents of this publication are for reference purposes only. This publication does not constitute legal advice and should not be relied upon as legal advice. Specific legal advice should always be sought separately before taking any action based on this publication.

 

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