Your summer on a strata balcony: What to know
As the weather warms up to higher temperatures, so does the festive cheer. Here’s some tips for enjoying entertaining on your strata balcony without running into problems
Summer in Australia – the best time of the year. To get the most out of the summer months ahead, it’s important owners and community members are across the use of balconies and how they can be best utilised for entertaining.
In any community, balconies offer a fantastic outdoor social area, extra living space and the opportunity to catch a breeze (and just perhaps a view).
Balconies do however, raise some intriguing issues when it comes to how they can be used and how your use affects other lot owners.Here are 6 common topics when it comes to strata balconies that will help you enjoy your balcony without running into issues:
- Yours, mine, ours? Who does it belong to?
- Maintenance – fixing your balcony up over summer
- BBQs – Christmas cooking on the balcony?
- Smoking – before you light up
- Safety – entertaining shouldn’t mean bringing down the house
Yours, mine, ours? Who does it belong to?
As a rule, individual apartment owners own anything within the four walls of their unit. But, check your strata plan! Everything that is not defined as part of a lot within this plan is common property, meaning that if the lines are drawn at the edge of your lot’s interior, your balconies and gardens are also common property.
Maintenance – fixing your balcony up over summer
As explained above, whether you’re personally responsible for maintaining a balcony depends on the specific strata plan. For the purpose of this topic, let’s assume the balconies in your strata plan are common property.
If there’s a problem with balcony drainage, glass, railings or tiling, the committee or owners corporation should be your first port of call for maintenance and owners should not undertake any direct DIY work. If there’s a problem or you wish to change the appearance of your balcony in time for the visiting relatives this summer, check with the strata committee first to seek permission or to arrange repairs.
BBQs – Christmas cooking on the balcony?
If you love having a barbecue, be aware that some apartments have by-laws or rules that ban or restrict their use due to the smell they spread to other apartments, as well as health and safety risks they pose.
In some cases, you may be able to light up a barbecue if you are committed to ensuring it doesn’t cause smoke to drift onto neighbouring or common property. A strata manager can help determine the fairest solution for barbecue use, and enforce the by-laws relating to its use.
Smoking – before you light up
Not unlike the questions posed by barbecues, smoking on strata balconies also raises a crucial ‘nuisance factor’. If you’re a smoker, or you live in a community where you are exposed to smoke drift on your balcony, you should know strata owners have a number of options available to them regarding the banning of smoke penetrating any other lot or common property like balconies.
If you don’t have a by-law or model rule in place, owners can still apply for mediation/conciliation through the relevant state consumer authority or apply to the Tribunal for assistance. Smoking in strata has emerged as one of the most legislated issues in recent times so be aware of your community by-laws before lighting up on your balcony this summer.
Safety – entertaining shouldn’t mean bringing down the house
To ensure good times can be had safely, most balconies have some sort of weight restrictions to ensure their structural integrity. This summer, that means being mindful of factors like how many people the structure can take, the type and weight of furniture you use, and even the size and weight of your barbecue. Contact your strata manage to find out your structure’s exact weight restriction.
Meanwhile, if you’re putting your party hat on this summer, check the condition of railings before having guests over, and be a vigilant host. Keep continual tabs on the behaviour happening on your balcony and deescalate any dangerous issues.
If you’d like to find out more on building compliance for your strata property, download your free Community Living guide. Or for a consultation to review your common property insurance by our CommunitySure insurance team, click here.