Strata Law or by-laws are a set of rules that govern each strata scheme and apply to owners, tenants and in some cases, visitors (section 4 of Strata Scheme Management Act 2015 (NSW) (‘the Act’)). Just like any other rule, by-laws govern the behaviour of those on the premises as well as the use of common property.
Under section 9 of the Act, the owner’s corporation has the principal responsibility of managing the strata scheme such as the following:
- Use of the common property;
- Keeping accounts and records;
- Maintaining and repairing the common property; and
- Taking out insurance.
What do the by-laws regulate?
Under section 136 of the Act, by-laws may regulate the ‘management, administration, control, use or enjoyment of the lots or the common property’ and include following:
- Smoking such as where it is permitted;
- Parking such as visitor parking;
- Pets where owners can have pets living on premises;
- Noise levels after a certain time;
- Use of pool up until a certain time;
- Actions of residents:
- To not interfere other resident’s property or the common property;
- Create a hazard or cause nuisance to other residents e.g. playing loud music; and
- Not to interfere unreasonably with other resident’s use and enjoyment of the common property.
How do I obtain a copy of the by-laws?
Generally, the by-laws are enclosed in the contract for sale when purchasing the property, through the section 184 certificate and through their landlord, however it can be obtained from:
- The owner’s corporation;
- The managing agent of the property;
- Inspection of the owner corporation’s records;
- NSW Land Registry Services (LRS)
Restrictions on the making of the by-laws
These rules are determined by the owner corporation as to how the rules may suit the lifestyle of the strata scheme. However, under section 139 of the Act, such by-laws must not be:
- Unconscionable; and
Further, rules cannot restrict children or assistance dogs from the property.
Owner corporations can choose to adopt model by-laws to assist them in managing issues in the strata scheme as well as reviewing their by-laws.
The regulations may prescribe model by-laws that may be adopted by the owner corporation (section 138 of the Act) such as the Strata Schemes Management Regulation 2016 (NSW) schedule 3. Model-by laws include suggestions in relation to:
- Dealing with nuisance e.g. smoking;
- Common property e.g. damage to lawns and plants;
- Storage of inflammable liquids and other substances and materials;
- Appearance of lot;
- Disposal of waste; and
- Change in use or occupation to be notified
The model by-laws provide owners corporation with options regarding whether pets are allowed on the property. The owner’s corporation may choose to have a by-law that either:
- Ban pets completely from the property (no including assistance animals); or
- Allow pets, however notice must be given at least fourteen (14) days before the pet lives on the property; or
- Allow pets with the written permission of the owner’s corporation.
It is the responsibility of the owner of the property to:
- Supervise the pet;
- Clean common property if pet has created the mess;
- Ensure the pet is not negatively impacting other residents e.g. by being noisy.
The owner’s corporation may choose to have a by-law that either:
- Bans smoking on the common property and require the owners to ensure that second-hand smoke does not affect other owners or the common property; and
- Allows smoking in designated smoking areas in the common property.
What happens if I breach the by-laws?
Under section 135 of the Act, all owners, occupiers and visitors in the strata scheme must legally comply with the by-laws of the scheme.
If there is a breach of the by-laws, the owner’s corporation may:
- Contact the owner to cease the action causing the breach;
- If the breach continues, the owner’s corporation may serve a notice that the owner must comply with the by-law;
- If the breach continues, the owner corporation may apply to the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal (NCAT).
The notice must be given after a majority vote at the meeting of the owners, however if the owner corporation delegates their responsibility for issuing notices to the strata committee or the strata managing agent, they can issue notices to the owners.
If the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal finds that the notice was validly issued, then the Tribunal can issue a penalty of up to $1,100. If in the last twelve (12) months the owner has breach the same by-law, then the Tribunal may issue a penalty of up to $2,200.00. In such case, the owner’s corporation does not need to issue a notice and can apply to the Tribunal to issue a fine.
Contact us today to learn more.