Renovation Works – NSW Strata Law Reforms

The new Strata Schemes Management Act 2015 (NSW) (“Act”) and the Strata Schemes Management Regulation 2016 (NSW) (“Regulation”) will commence on Wednesday, 30 November 2016.

The new law has introduced a more simplified approval process for lot owners who want to carry out certain renovation works at their lots.

In today’s article, we will explore the new rules that will, hopefully, make every renovator’s life easier.

The Act divides renovation works into the following 3 categories:

  1. Cosmetic works
  2. Minor renovation works
  3. Changes to common property

Cosmetic works – sec 109 of the Act

Under section 109 of the Act, the owners corporation’s approval is not required if an owner of a lot proposes to carry out cosmetic work to common property. The following examples are provided by section 109(2):

  • installing or replacing hooks, nails or screws for hanging paintings and other things on walls
  • installing or replacing handrails
  • painting
  • filling minor holes and cracks in internal wall
  • laying carpet
  • installing or replacing built-in wardrobes
  • installing or replacing internal blinds and curtains

The list above is not exhaustive. Section 109(4) allows an owners corporation to pass its own by-laws specifying additional cosmetic work that can be carried out at a lot without the owners corporation’s prior approval.

Minor Renovation Works – sec 110 of the Act

The second type of work is known as ‘minor renovation works’. Under section 110 of the Act, such works can be approved by an owners corporation via an ordinary resolution, which means a simple majority voting in favour of the proposed minor renovation works at a general meeting is sufficient.

Examples of minor renovation works, as set out in the Act, include the following:

  • 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
  • the following work as prescribed by the Regulation:
    • 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 a heat pump
    • installing ceiling insulation

Section 110(3) of the Act requires that an owner who proposes to carry out minor renovation works must give prior written notice to the owners corporation.

Similar to section 109(4), section 110(6) of the Act also allows the owners corporation to make its own by-laws setting out additional works that are considered ‘minor renovation works’, which only need the owners corporation’s approval via an ordinary resolution.

If an owners corporation would like to further simplify this process, section 110(6)(b) permits the strata committee to have the delegated function of approving any proposed minor renovation works pursuant to a by-law.

Changes to common property – sec 108 of the Act

The third category of work is under section 108 of the Act. It consists of any addition to or alteration of the common property, as well as the erection of a new structure on common property, for the purpose improving or enhancing the common property. Examples of this type of work include work involving waterproofing, structural changes, and work that changes the external appearance of a lot.

A by-law and the relevant owner’s written consent to the making of the by-law is required if the the ongoing maintenance of the affected common property is going to be the responsibility of the owner.

Final words

If you would like to carry out renovation works at your unit either now or in the near future, and you are not entirely sure which category of work applies to you or what requirements you need to fulfil, we strongly recommend that you seek the advice of a strata lawyer prior to carrying out the works.

The information contained in this article is not legal advice. This article is intended to provide general information in summary form only. You should not rely on the content of this article as legal advice If you would advice specific to you and your situation, please contact us.

Posted in LCOR