There have been over 90 changes to strata laws which have been tailored to deal with modern living in a strata complex. Below is information regarding some of those changes, which are effective Thursday 1 December 2016.
The reforms make it easier for owners to keep pets rather than automatically prohibiting pet ownership. For those people living in a complex with an established scheme, by-laws must be reviewed within 12 months and, it is believed, schemes will be actively encouraged to consider lifting existing bans.
The changes also make it easier for owners to carry out minor changes to their unit or townhouse. For cosmetic changes, for example installing a picture hook, owners are not required to seek approval. For minor renovations, for example installing floor boards, 50% of the vote is required and for renovations which affect the structure, external appearance or waterproofing 75% of the vote is required.
Tenants are now permitted to attend owners corporation meetings, however, are unable to vote. Tenants can be excluded when financial matters are discussed.
The changes now permit a developer to be sued if the strata levies set by a developer when establishing the scheme are deliberately low.
Sale and winding up of strata schemes
One of the most controversial changes is that owners may be forced to sell if 75% of the vote is achieved. The process is a complicated one which will be expensive and lengthy. Ultimately, the Land and Environment Court can reject any plan for the strata scheme to be wound up if the correct process is not followed or it is not just and equitable.
Building defect bond scheme
One of the changes which benefits owners is the introduction of a building defect bond. The scheme covers buildings over three stories high and gives protection to owners by requiring a developer to lodge a 2% bond for the final contract price of the building as security to fix any defective work. Mandatory defect inspections reports will be introduced with an independent building inspector to provide a first defect report between 15 and 18 months after the completion of the building and a final report between 21 months and no later than 2 years after the building work is completed.
Other changes include restrictions on smoking, restrictions on the maximum number of people permitted to reside in a unit and electronic voting.