NSW update: keeping strong – COVID-safe requirements for strata

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Keeping strong, COVID requirements for strata

With the NSW Government implementing temporary legislative changes to create a COVID-safe state, here is an update on what committee members and owners must do to move forward together and ensure the COVID-safe requirements for strata are met.

Committees and owners have a legal duty of care to maintain the common property and are responsible for the health and safety of those who come and go, including during COVID-19. Knowing what to do for multi-owed properties during a pandemic can be daunting. So, to assist, we have collated some of the actions committee members and owners could consider.

As a group, our focus has been and will continue to be providing committee members and owners with the support and resources to follow government recommendations and best practice safety procedures.

NSW’s COVID-19 changes and what they mean for strata properties

 

1. Legislative changes impacting owners, strata meetings, and management

.As of 5 June 2020, new and temporary legislation will apply to strata and community living in NSW. The changes look to minimise the negative impacts of COVID-19 and provide practical ways for owners and committees to undertake property obligations despite restrictions.
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As of 5 June 2020, new legislative provisions mean:
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  • Meeting notices can now be emailed
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  • Electronic signatures can be used for affixing the seal of a strata property
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  • Electronic voting can be used regardless whether previously voted upon or not
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  • Secretaries are required to undertake actions to enable electronic voting
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  • Extension periods for when a property’s first annual general meeting can be held
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  • Extension periods for levies that are reimbursing other funds.
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Changes are temporary and will only be in place until 13 November 2020, unless specified within legislation, or repealed. If you would like more detail, including specifics for secretaries, please read our article Understanding NSW’s strata legislation changes.

2. COVID-19 restrictions — what they mean for committees and owners

NSW saw an easing of restrictions on 1 July 2020. As of 1 July, there is still a maximum of 20 people allowed in any one common or private area at any one time. The 20-person limit exists for both indoors and outdoors, and social distancing must be maintained at all times.

Restrictions for COVID-19 are geographically relevant and may change with circumstances. For more NSW-specific COVID-19 information, visit the NSW Government’s COVID-19 page

3. Committee and owner obligations for maintaining a COVID-safe property

It is important to highlight that committees and owners continue to play a role in preventing COVID-19. Public health orders, which stipulate COVID-19 regulations, apply to an owners corporation and community associations even as restrictions ease. Owners and committees should make their own risk assessments to determine if a facility should remain open. Failure to do so puts owners at risk of legal liability claims.

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Owners must be informed of any new or changed procedures relating to the common property, and information about the changes should be displayed on the noticeboard. Should a common property facility be temporarily closed at the discretion of the owners corporation, a notice of closure must be sent to all residents. Likewise, committees can’t keep a common property facility closed unless stipulated by public health orders, the owners corporation, or a by-law.

What committees and owners can do to ensure COVID-safe requirements for strata are met:

  • Stay up-to-date with COVID-19 restrictions and precautions
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  • Follow distancing rules across the common property and take reasonable steps to communicate these restrictions — restrictions apply to lifts, stairwells, laundries, pools, gyms, garbage rooms, and all common property facilities
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  • Determine the maximum number of people that can be in any one space — the size of the space will determine how many people can be present
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  • Maintaining increased cleaning and hygiene schedules.

 

If you’d like to find out more on managing health & safety for our property, find out more about our Community Health & Safety services by clicking here. Our team is ready to assist you 24/7.

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