What to do with abandoned goods on common property
Considering your neighbours can go a long way in making a big difference to the quality of community living, so it goes without saying that looking after shared spaces on common property includes not dumping unwanted goods in a non-designated area.
Four helpful tips on what to do with abandoned goods on common property and how to understand your state’s legislation:
1. Take responsibility for your own goods
Being sensitive to your neighbour’s enjoyment of their property is crucial to strata living. Leaving your items in common areas can result in them being lost, stolen or thrown away. You could also be breaching the by-laws, so ensure you’re on top of where you can and can’t store items.
If you don’t act responsibly with rubbish disposal, your strata committee can take action on behalf of the owners corporation. Your committee has certain rights and responsibilities to dispose of goods left on common property.
2. Rubbish disposal the right way
In strata properties, there are usually designated areas for proper disposal of garbage. Ensure you place rubbish in the correctly designed bins. Don’t leave rubbish items, such as oversized packaging, outside of the bins as they won’t be taken away by council.
3. Schedule a clean-up for bulky goods with your local council
If you’re looking to dispose of old furniture or other large household items, schedule a collection with your local council, or if the items are in good working order and can be reused by someone else, take them to your local charity shop first and ask if they wish to accept the donation.
Some local councils allow multi-dwelling units to book collections each year for the whole block or allow residents to book individual collection services. Think about what is right for your strata property. If it is heavily tenanted with people moving in and out regularly, it’s probably best to keep it to individual collection services to avoid dumping on common property. If you are in a small block, or mostly owner-occupied, it might be more efficient to book collections on behalf of the whole block.
4. What to do with abandoned goods according to legislation
New South Wales
As of 1 July 2020, NSW saw a change in the legislation that governs abandon goods left on common property and what can be done to on-sell or get rid of them. Abandon goods on common property were traditionally regulated in NSW under the Strata Schemes Management Act 2015 (SSMA). July 2020, however, saw abandon goods on strata properties move under the Uncollected Goods Act 1995.
When it comes to abandoned goods on common property in NSW, the key points to remember are:
- The Uncollected Goods Act 1995 is the regulation that governs goods abandon on common property and strata in NSW
- The person disposing of the abandon goods will not be liable should they follow the procedures set by the Act. This includes following an order set by the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal. The Tribunal has the power to order the disposal and management of the goods
- Under the Act, uncollected goods include any goods which owners reasonably believe to be abandoned or left behind on common property
- The Act divides goods into six categories. Different rules and procedures apply to each category. The six categories are perishable, low value, medium value, high value, personal documents and memorabilia, and motor vehicles
- The party disposing of the abandon goods must keep appropriate records of the sale or disposal of the goods and who it went to. The documentation for low value items must be kept for at least 12 months. Higher valued items and their records must be kept for at least 12 years
- If you don’t know the person who owns the abandon goods, you should make a reasonable effort to identify the owner of the goods and communicate with them
- The strata committee can request expenses are covered for removing, storing, maintaining or insuring the goods. However, you can’t refuse to return the belongings because the owner owes money for other reasons, such as rent or levies.
NSW’s six value categories for abandoned goods and their rules:
Model By-law 7 of Schedule 4 of the Body Corporate and Community Management Act states that an occupier must not leave rubbish or other material on common property in a way or place likely to interfere with the enjoyment of the common property by someone else. However, unlike NSW laws, there are no procedures under the Act that outlines what the committee can do to remove abandoned goods of common property.
Under the model rules, Model rule 1.2 prohibits the storage of flammable liquids and dangerous substances, while rule 4.1 prevents an occupier to obstruct the lawful use and enjoyment of common property. Like QLD laws, there are no procedures under the Act that outlines what the procedures the committee can do to remove abandoned goods of common property.
If you’d like to find out more on removing abandoned goods and dealing with your neighbours, download our free Community Living guide on managing disputes. Or for a consultation to review your by-laws by our Kemps Petersons Legal team, click here. Alternatively, if you could like to find our updates to your state’s laws and regulations, visit our legislation page.