How to avoid risks when it comes to strata food deliveries during COVID-19
Introducing a food delivery by-law could reduce the risks around strata food deliveries during COVID-19 outbreaks and improve your property’s security too
While on-demand food delivery services are convenient and help us comply with quarantine and lockdown orders during COVID-19 outbreaks, they can pose problems too. Strata food deliveries during COVID-19 outbreaks can actually put you, your family and your neighbours at risk of contracting COVID-19 if not managed effectively.
According to Kavita Prasad, Principal Solicitor from Kemps Petersons Legal, by-laws for food delivery services are the only way to safely manage and reduce risk both now and into the future.To help owners and committees navigate the uncharted waters of receiving strata food deliveries during COVID-19 and beyond, we’ve rounded up some tips from the experts:
- Your strata property’s security, and health and safety, should be taken seriously
- It’s important to reduce the chance to COVID-19 spreading through food deliveries
- Consider a by-law that regulates food deliveries
- A food delivery by-law tailored to your property will offer more protection than a templated by-law
- Once your new by-law is drafted, it must be adopted by your owners corporation and registered with the relevant state body
Your strata property’s security, and health and safety, should be taken seriously
Market research from Roy Morgan in early 2020 reported that nearly four million Australians, aged 14 and over, use meal delivery services. The industry isn’t set to slow down either, with its value expected to surpass $200 billion by 2025.
For many owners and committees living in apartments, the rapid increase in online or on-demand food delivery has brought with it challenges around general nuisances and safety. Most worryingly, there are now concerns about strata food deliveries during COVID-19 outbreaks increasing the risk of COVID-19 transmission.
For Kavita and the team at Kemps Petersons Legal (KPL), the increase in popularity doesn’t mean strata food deliveries during COVID-19 and beyond should be banned. Instead, she believes the situation for specific by-laws for food delivery services.
“Strata properties are supposed to be secure buildings with safe environments for all residents and their guests. But COVID-19 has highlighted that food delivery personnel are a set of visitors regularly crossing the property who aren’t accounted for in by-laws.
?s important to reduce the chance to COVID-19 spreading through food deliveries
“COVID-19 means we must control the spread of germs, and food delivery services are becoming a bit of an uncontrolled health risk on common property. When we look at the risk factor, delivery services come and go from different restaurants and possibly interact with infected staff or patrons. Then, they pass through the common property and go up to a private lot door, which means they are using the lift and are in close contact with the residential side of the property. This becomes a concern because we have seen some of the larger COVID-19 outbreaks come from restaurants,” said Kavita.
“By-laws for food delivery services don’t stop the delivery personnel from entering the common property. They put measures in place to control their movement so they don’t come up to the unit itself. What’s more, ordering meals at all hours of the night can be a nuisance and safety issue in some circumstances. No one wants to be woken up by their neighbour getting a snack at 2:00 am or unexpectedly frightened by someone in a motorbike helmet walking down their hallway at night. By-laws for food delivery services offer a way to manage all of these issues by orchestrating delivery providers around a central drop-off point,” said Kavita.
A by-law for food delivery services also allows owners to determine how strata food deliveries during COVID-19 and beyond can be collected or managed on the common property. The specific by-law can implement a range of safety protocols and measures like where delivery providers are allowed on the common property, drop-off and collection points, specific instructions that should be communicated, and other safety measures such as restrictions on helmets or hoods.
Consider a by-law that regulates food deliveries
According to Kavita, by-laws for strata food delivery services during COVID-19 and beyond are one of the ways the strata industry is adapting and responding to change. “I think delivery by-laws will be widely used and accepted because they are implementing safety measures; most people are supportive and proactive when it comes to the safety of where they live or invest. What’s more, owners corporations and body corporates have a legal duty of care to create a safe environment for all residents and guests within their building, and this helps them do that,” said Kavita.
Despite new strata by-laws sometimes being disputed or challenged, by-laws for food delivery services are seen by legal experts as something that owners and residents will happily adopt. “These kinds of by-laws aren’t harsh, unconscionable or oppressive in any way, which are the grounds for disputing a by-law or taking it to a Tribunal or Court. By-laws like this aren’t detrimental to owners and go to the basics of what by-laws are all about. By-laws are about implementing rules that make community living a safer and more enjoyable experience for everyone,” said Kavita.
It’s unfortunately common for some owners and residents to not know their property’s by-laws. The KPL team hopes to see a growing awareness of implementing by-laws that deal with newer issues like food delivery and for all community living stakeholders to understand the by-laws of their property better.
“By-laws are important. They are part of what makes strata living such a great choice because they allow us to share property features like pools and backyards while maintaining a sense of harmony. If by-laws are neglected — or not updated to deal with current issues — we start to see tensions rise and levels of safety disturbed. If you live in a strata property, I always recommend asking your manager for a copy of your by-laws and reading them. Most people don’t realise they are legally obliged to comply with them,” said Kavita.
A food delivery by-law tailored to your property will offer more protection than a templated by-law
By-laws aren’t something that should be purchased from templated or quasi-legal advice platforms. Kavita warns committee members of the risk of using illegitimate or cookie-cutter approaches to by-laws, especially when it comes to strata food deliveries during COVID-19.
“Each building is unique, and there are lots of factors to take into consideration for by-laws so that they are safe, fair, and appropriately address the issue they are dealing with. For example, not all buildings have lifts or foyers. Likewise, the way common property areas and assets are constructed impacts how by-laws for food delivery services are put together.
“At KPL, when a committee is interested in creating a by-law for food delivery services, we’ll talk to the strata manager to find out the exact nature of the building and draft the by-law accordingly. We look into Local Planning Acts, the area the building is in, as well as zoning and the intricate policy related details to make sure we provide specific and tailored advice.
“For example, we might assess the building and say something like: ok, your collection points — which are just like an evacuation point — should be here and here. Or, you don’t have an appropriate collection point, so you should install a box with adequate signage to prevent trip hazards. Our by-law drafting will also map out what residents should be communicating to the delivery personnel and to what extent (such as please drop at the marked collection point). Similarly, our by-law drafting can include safety elements that relate to your specific property, so maybe it’s appropriate to say something like no delivery personnel beyond the ground level foyer,” said Kavita.
Regardless of how seemingly straightforward or complex the property is, the KPL team take the time to make sure the by-laws are drafted to address hazards and increase the property’s safety and harmony.
Once your new by-law is drafted, it must be adopted by your owners corporation and registered with the relevant state body
In the democratic spirit of strata and community living, deciding on by-laws for food delivery services means owners must agree to have the by-law created via a special resolution at a general meeting. A special resolution means no more than 25% of votes can go against the motion. Once the by-law is drafted, the by-law must be registered with the relevant state body within a specific time frame:
- NSW: the by-law must be registered with the NSW Land Registry Services
- Queensland: the by-law must be registered with the Titles Registry Office
- Victoria: the building rule must be registered with Land Use Victoria.
Drafting, registering, and consolidating by-laws can be tricky when it’s not done by a professional who understands time frames and administrative requirements, which is why KPL offers a comprehensive service.
“By-laws are the cornerstone to successful community living, which is why we offer a service that deals with by-laws from start to finish. We know managing the rules of a property, which is viewed as a business, can be stressful. At KPL, we aim to offer expert advice at an affordable and accessible price. As part of Australia’s leading property service provider, we want to see more people understand and enjoy their property.
Kavita also states that while everything at the moment is COVID-19 related, including by-laws around strata food deliveries during COVID-19, there will come a time where COVID-19 will not be the first consideration for everything we do. When that time comes, there will still be a demand and a need to manage food delivery services personnel entering common property.
“Every move or change we make at the moment is COVID-19 related, and while this kind of by-law certainly helps mitigate the risk of COVID-19, owners corporations and body corporates shouldn’t view by-laws for food delivery services as strictly COVID-19 related by-laws. They should be looking at them as ongoing management protocols. As long as people are ordering food from services such as Menulog and DoorDash, issues around safety and delivery services being a nuisance to neighbours will remain”, said Kavita.
Kemps Petersons Legal offer drafting by-laws for food delivery services and general meeting motions for a discounted price of $650 plus GST and disbursements. Click here to learn more.If you’d like to find out more on drafting by-laws or building rules for your strata property, click here to download our FREE Community Living guide on by-laws and rules. For a consultation to review your current by-laws with the Kemp Peterson team, click here. Alternatively, click here for a free assessment to find out more about the services we offer.