Do’s and don’ts for renovating in an owners corporation property
If you’re looking to do some renovating in an owners corporation property it’s important to be across some legislative considerations before you start. Here are some of PICA Group’s tips and recommendations to keep in mind.
An owners corporation can only make significant alterations to the use or appearance of its common property if the changes are listed in the maintenance plan, or approved by special resolution (more than 75 per cent of the total votes in favor) at a general meeting.
A special resolution is required if the common property is to be upgraded, renovated or improved and the estimated total cost is more than double annual total fees, or works require a planning or building permit.
The only exception to the above is if alterations are immediately required to ensure safety or to prevent significant loss or damage, which can be approved by ordinary resolution or by the committee, or so that tenants or visitors with a disability can access common property.
What are the responsibilities for renovating individual lots in an owners corporation?
Community living comes with its benefits and challenges. One of the benefits is sharing the cost of common property maintenance and repairs. However, just as the owners corporation has a duty to keep common property under good repair, a lot owner has an obligation to keep their lot under good repair.
Before you commence any works, here are 4 legislative areas to consider:
- Failure to keep your lot in a state of good and serviceable repair
- Maintenance or renovation work affecting the internal appearance of lots
- Maintenance or renovation work affecting the external appearance of lots
- Maintenance or renovation work affecting common property
1. Failure to keep your lot in a state of good and serviceable repair
If an owner fails to keep the exterior in good and serviceable repair, an owners corporation can, in writing, order the owners to carry out repairs.
If the requested repairs are not carried out within 28 days, the owners corporation can perform the work without the lot owner’s approval and charge the owner for the cost.
2. Maintenance or renovation work affecting the internal appearance of lots
As the owner of your lot, you are entitled to renovate or refurbish the interior of your apartment or unit. However, you must notify your owners corporation if the renovations require a building or planning permit, or if the works affect common property and/or other lot owners’ or occupiers’ enjoyment of the common property.
The effect on other lots of common property may arise from matters such as noise during works, alterations to common services, building materials or debris on common property and parking by contractors.
A copy of the notices can be found on the Consumer Affairs Victoria website
3. Maintenance or renovation work affecting the external appearance of lots
An owner or occupier of a lot must obtain the written approval of the owners corporation before making any changes to the external appearance of their lot.
An owners corporation cannot unreasonably withhold approval but may give approval subject to reasonable conditions to protect quiet enjoyment of other lot owners, structural integrity or the value of other lots and/or common property.
4. Maintenance or renovation work affecting common property in an owners corporation
Model rule 4.3 in the Owners Corporation Regulations 2018 states that an owner or occupier of a lot must not damage or alter common property or a structure that forms part of the common property without the written approval of the owners corporation.
So, any works that an owner wishes to make, that will alter common property, also requires written approval of the owners corporation before going ahead. The most common example is the installation of air conditioning which usually requires a compressor and pipes to be fitted to the exterior of the building and may require drilling into the wall.