Five common myths about strata property by-laws

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Five common myths about strata property by-laws

If you’re living in a strata property, by-laws or building rules serve as a guide and to protect. We get loads of queries everyday asking what owners can and can’t do, so we’ve put together a list of the most common myths about strata property by-laws and building rules.


PICA Groups covers the top five common myths about strata by-laws below:


Myth #1: smoking on balconies is banned

People often ask questions about whether smoking is permitted on the balconies of strata apartments. Your balcony is your own property, and while everybody has a right to enjoy their property in their own way, smoke can drift into other windows and balconies.

In New South Wales, the new strata legislation introduced in 2016 recognised that smoking may cause nuisance or hazard to another person. A new model by-law has been included in schedule 3 that regulates smoke drift and provides that an owner or occupier of a lot must ensure that smoke does not drift to the common property or another lot. There are two options that can be adopted. Check your property’s by-laws for what option your owners corporation has chosen to adopt.

In Queensland and Victoria, there is no specific legislation that bans smoking on balconies. It is left to the body corporate or owner corporation to adopt a by-law or building rule relating to smoking at a general meeting if supported by a special resolution.


Myth #2: pets are not allowed in an apartment

Pet owners know the true happiness of having their pets around. While your state strata laws may be relaxed regarding pet ownership, your by-laws or building rules may require you to make life easy for pet owners and non-pet owners alike, while ensuring common property is not damaged or compromised by pets.

In NSW, the new model by-laws have a default position which expressly permits the keeping of animals, on conditions. Check your by-laws to ascertain whether you need prior approval from the strata committee before you bring a pet into a strata property, or whether you simply just need to notify them of your furry friend.  In QLD and VIC, by-laws or building rules govern pet ownership in a body corporate property.

As a pet owner, you are accountable for your pet’s actions and noise. You should also take care to have your pets fully vaccinated and trained so that they don’t pose a threat to other residents in the strata property.


Myth #3: I can’t be an Airbnb host

If you’re a short-term letting host, make sure your guests are aligned with the rules of maintaining common property and do not create a nuisance for your neighbours during their stay.

NSW state laws are stricter for owners who don’t live on the property that they let out in the short term. So, if you’re one, you should take care to be compliant even when you’re absent and keep your owners corporation aware of your short-term letting practices.

As of 10 April 2020, through changes to the Fair Trading Act 1987 and Strata Schemes Management Act 2015, NSW strata properties will now, via by-laws, be able to prohibit short-term letting, and must follow a Mandatory Code of Conduct. Our team at Kemps Petersons Legal share their expertise on this topic, click here to read more about it.

Changes to restricting short-term letting via by-laws, means community living properties, will need to adopt a new by-law to ban short-term accommodation. To successfully do this, owners corporations will need to vote via special resolution and have a 75% majority. From here, the new by-law will need to be registered with NSW Land Registry Services.


PICA Group tip

If you’re okay with your tenants running begin an Airbnb host in your building, make sure to give them a copy of the by-laws and building rules within two weeks of their moving in. It will ensure that the by-laws or building rules are clearly communicated as part of the tenancy agreement to avoid disputes and hassles in the long run.


Myth #4: my party, my rules

Living under a strata scheme means being sensitive to community living. So, if your partying is affecting your neighbour’s right to a peaceful life on their own property, you can be restricted by your by-laws and building rules. Remember to also be considerate of your neighbours if they complain of noise, barbecue or cigarette smoke getting into their property from yours.


Myth #5: strata by-laws cannot be changed

Strata by-laws are a set of mutually agreed upon building rules by owners corporations and bodies corporate, for a hassle-free co-existence of all owners. So, if they’re not helping maintain decorum, or if they’re incomplete, ambiguous, or outdated, they can always be changed to suit the changing needs of property owners and their residents. Remember strata by-laws that go against state legislation, or are oppressive or unreasonable, can be invalidated by an adjudicator.

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In New South Wales

In New South Wales, by-laws can be changed by owners corporation approval at an annual general meeting (AGM) or an extraordinary general meeting if supported by a special resolution. Owners can put forth a motion with a proposed new by-law in the agenda of the meeting. Your strata committee must make sure to get the newly drafted by-laws registered with the NSW Office of the Registrar General within six months of drafting them.

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In Queensland

Queensland bodies corporate may change their by-laws by passing a motion by special resolution at a general meeting to record a new community management statement that includes changes to the by-laws. This must be registered with the Titles Registry Office within three months of passing the motion to change the by-laws.

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In Victoria

In Victoria, owners may propose new building rules to be adopted in a special resolution and secure at least 75 per cent of votes in favour of the new rules. They can be approved after your owners corporation lodges a copy of the consolidated building rules with Land Use Victoria.

If you’d like to find out more on managing by-laws for your strata property, download our FREE Community Living guide on by-laws. Or for a consultation to review your by-laws by our Kemps Petersons Legal team, click here.