Latest Strata Developments for New South Wales

 

The Strata Schemes Management Amendment (Sustainability Infrastructure) Act, 2021 No 1 (NSW) (the “Amendment Act”) has introduced important amendments to the Strata Schemes Management Act, 2015 (NSW)(the “Act”).

Keeping of animals

You may have seen the media coverage of the landmark NSW Court of Appeal decision in Cooper v The Owners – Strata Plan No. 58068 [2020] NSWCA 250 (“Cooper”) which held that by-laws containing blanket prohibitions on pets were harsh, unconscionable or oppressive – as a result, the now famous dog “Angus” is permitted to stay at Horizon, a strata building in Darlinghurst.  Importantly, the Act has now been amended to enshrine these provisions into the Act and take effect on 24th August 2021.

Interestingly, it will now be deemed “reasonable” to keep an animal unless the keeping of the animal “unreasonably” interferes with another occupant’s use and enjoyment of the occupant’s lot or the common property.

The amendments have far-reaching implications for an owners corporation, as a decision to refuse a pet application pursuant to existing by-laws may now be subject to challenge.  Consideration of pet applications will now be time sensitive – owners corporation’s should expeditiously consider such applications because failure to advise of the outcome of the application within a “reasonable” period of time, is now deemed approval to keep the animal.

We recommend that all owners corporations review their pet keeping position – we would be pleased to assist you in this regard to ensure your keeping of pets by-laws comply with the new Section 137B”.

Environmentally friendly amendments

Not only is it now easier for occupiers to keep animals, the Amendment Act also makes it easier to install “sustainability infrastructure” on the common property.
“Sustainability infrastructure” is essentially any change to the common property:

  • to reduce the consumption of energy or water or to increase the efficiency of its consumption
  • to reduce or prevent pollution
  • to reduce the amount of waste sent to landfill
  • to increase the recovery or recycling of materials
  • to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and
  • to facilitate the use of sustainable forms of transport (eg installing electric vehicle charging stations).

A new concept of the “sustainability infrastructure resolution” passes as a simple majority vote, so for example, an owner wishing to install solar panels will only need a majority votes as opposed to a “special resolution”.

Miscellaneous amendments

The Amendment Act also:

  • NCAT applications – imposes on an owners corporation the responsibility for the service of notices regarding applications to NCAT
  • Civil penalties – enables applications to NCAT for a civil penalty up to $5,500 against a person who has contravened an order of the Tribunal
  • Proxies – permits a person who owns more than one lot in a strata scheme to nominate one individual to act as a proxy for all the lots owned by that owner
  • Proxies – provides that a nomination of a proxy for a meeting is not rendered invalid if the meeting is adjourned
  • Secret ballots – prevents records of secret ballots from being disclosed as part of strata inspection of the books and records of the owners corporation
  • By-laws to tenants – removes the duplicated requirement to give a tenant a copy of the by-laws for a strata scheme

Further extension of strata and community lands COVID-19 Regulations

Strata Community Australia (“SCA”) (NSW) has confirmed with the NSW State Government that the emergency regulation permitting strata meetings to be held remotely will be reinstated from Wednesday 21st July 2021. 

Do you have a question relating to your property or development? Contact us!

Please note that this article is provided for information purposes only and is not a substitute for professional legal advice.

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