Repairs and maintenance
When it comes to repairs and maintenance on a strata property, it can largely be broken down into three different types of work across three major area types. NSW legislation does allow some instances where owners can carry out works which involve common property without the approval of the owners corporation. However, provisions are subject to a property’s existing by-laws. All owners and the committee, however, have a duty of care to maintain and repair the common property to ensure compliance.
Three different types of work are identified as
Owners can do what is classified as ‘cosmetic work’ without approval. This includes reasonably straightforward and simple work such as:
- Fitting or changing hooks, nails or screws for hanging paintings or other things on walls
- Fitting or changing handrails within a lot
- Interior painting or a lot
- Repairing minor holes and cracks in the internal walls.
However, other types of ‘cosmetic’ can be prohibited if there is a by-law restricting it.
Owners are required to have approval from the owners corporation to undertake this work. There needs to be an approval rate of over 50 per cent, before doing any minor renovations can be done. Minor renovations are slightly more complex works that generally require a licensed professional to execute the work. Here, the owner undertaking the minor renovations may have to provide owners with plans of the work, when the times and dates or when the work will be done, and qualifications, insurance, and details of the tradespeople doing the work.
Minor renovations include:
- Kitchen renovations
- Moving or changing light fittings
- Installing or replacing hard floors
- Moving or changing internal walls
- Installing clotheslines or reverse cycle air conditioners (not including when they change the outside appearance of a wall or structure, this is more significant).
Major renovations are, as they sound, anything involving major work and structural changes and must be approved via a special resolution vote. From here, the owner undertaking the work must give the owners a minimum of 14 days written notice before the work starts. detailing the works being done. Decisions about major renovations can’t be delegated to the strata committee for approval.
Major renovations include:
- Structural changes
- Changes to the aesthetics of the outside of the building or property
- Anything requiring waterproofing.
Three major areas where work can be undertaken is generally split into
Generally, the owner owns the inside of the lot (this might be an apartment, unit or other), but not the main structure of the building. Usually, the main walls, the ceiling, roof and the floor are classified as common property. The general rule of thumb is everything inside the lot is the owner’s property which includes all internal walls, fixtures, carpet, tiles and paint on the walls.
An owner effectively owns the airspace within their lot, and anything included in that airspace. Lot airspace can include balconies and courtyards, however, this will depend on the by-laws and purchase agreement.
Common property is the property that all owners own, generally, this includes external walls, foyers and driveways. However, there can be variances depending on when your strata property was registered. For example, in properties registered after 1974, balcony doors are generally considered common property, so always check what applies to you and your building.
Common property normally consists of:
- The upper floor surface in a lot, but not including carpet
- The under surface of a lot ceiling
- External or boundary walls, including doors and windows
- Pipes or electrical wiring in the common property or servicing more than one lot
- Original floors, tiles, floorboards, magnesite floors, vermiculite ceilings, plaster ceilings and cornices
- Most balcony doors
- Concrete slab dividing lots.
Key things to note
- Whether approval is needed for what an owner is doing depends on the type of work being done and what area it is being done to.
- Minor renovations (e.g. renovating a kitchen, installing or replacing wooden floors) may be carried out by owners by a simple majority vote at a general meeting, rather than a special resolution (75% majority).
- Works affecting common property such as structural changes (additions, alterations to common property or erecting new structures), or changes affecting the external appearance, waterproofing and matters requiring consent or approval under any Act would be deemed major works requiring a common property by-law or other special resolution approval.
- An owner has a statutory right to sue the owners corporation for failing to properly repair and maintain common property.