Having an air conditioned home is the stuff of dreams in Australia, but installing it in a strata property isn’t as straightforward as you might think. It is possible, but there are a few factors you must consider first.
Am I allowed to install an air conditioning unit in my strata property?
According to section 110 of the Strata Schemes Management Act 2015, minor renovations to common property relating to the owner’s lot are allowed, with the approval of the owners corporation given by resolution at a general meeting. The approval may be subject to reasonable conditions but cannot be unreasonably withheld.
In clause 28 of the Strata Schemes Management Regulations 2016, the installation of a reverse cycle split system air conditioner is included in the definition of minor renovation works. This means that according to strata laws, it is typically possible and legal to install a split system or ducted system air conditioning unit.
The Owners Corporation
Before any installation works begin, you need to submit a proposal to your Owners Corporation. This is usually via the Secretary. The application should include everything you know about the unit from brand, installer details, photographs and details of where the system would be installed and how much space it would take.
Once the information is received, the Owners Corporation must first check to see if there are any current by-laws regarding air conditioning. If there are no rules already in place, the matter can be put to the owners corporation at a General Meeting.
Reasons your application may be denied
To comply with regulations, your application must be to install a reverse cycle split system air conditioning systems. If it isn’t a reverse cycle split system, it is not classed as ‘minor renovation’ works.
Should you wish to place the compressor on Common Property, then you will need to have a Common Property Rights by-law drafted. This by-law will grant exclusive use of the space that the compressor will take up. The by-law will need to be approved at a General Meeting.
If your unit, or part of your unit is installed externally, it technically “changes the external appearance of the lot” which according to Subsection 110(7)(c) of the Act means that it does not fall into the definition of ‘minor renovation’ works.
Another reason could be that previous by-laws exist within your strata scheme that prohibit the installation of an air conditioning unit.
To give your application the best possible chance of being approved, you should first consider the measurements of your air-con unit and think of the best location for it that would least impact other unit owners. Consider utilising unused roof space for example, providing that it complies with health and safety regulations of course.
Secondly, provide the owners corporation with a thorough, organised and easy to read application. You should make it as easy as possible for them to understand, agree with and approve your application.
Thirdly, rather than present a case about installing your own air con system, consider looping other unit owners into the conversation. Ask if they too would like to install air conditioning systems and work to find a solution that works for everyone.
If you’re unsure whether you are able to install an air conditioning system in your property, check your strata scheme’s by-laws or ask your strata manager for more information.