If you’re new to strata living you may have heard regular referrals to the ‘by-laws’ of your strata scheme, but what exactly are they? Let’s take a look at what these rules are, how they’re created and what they can control.
What are strata by-laws?
By-laws are rules created by your strata scheme regarding the behaviour of owners, tenants and even visitors, as well as the responsibilities within the strata scheme. By-laws are created and amended by your strata scheme and therefore every scheme will have a unique set of rules.
How are by-laws created?
By-laws are voted in by you and the other owners within your strata scheme, either created as a unique rule or as based on one of the model by-laws set out in the new NSW Strata Schemes Management Regulation 2016. These model by-laws provide sample rules for issues such as parking, pets, nuisance smoke and residency, and can either be used as is or adapted to suit.
For a by-law to be passed, a special resolution must be reached with a vote in the owners corporation. That means 75% or more of eligible votes must approve of the rule.
Is there anything a by-law cannot control?
Yes – in New South Wales, by-laws cannot be unconscionable, oppressive or harsh and cannot restrict children or the keeping of an assistance animal. They also cannot restrict a dealing in a lot, including restricting short-term letting.
Do by-laws mean my life will be filled with rules?
In most cases, your by-laws are in place to ensure a great living environment. They can help to control noise and nuisances from neighbours, openly set out who’s responsible for what on the property and provide a solid set of rules that can clear up many disputes before they have a chance to escalate. By-laws can also indicate the general lifestyle that residents enjoy in the strata scheme, so it’s important to ask for a copy of the relevant by-laws before buying any strata unit.
How do I access my strata scheme’s by-laws?
Your by-laws should be readily available to you. If you’re a tenant you should receive a copy of these after signing your rental agreement. If you’re an owner, you can request a copy of these from either your strata manager or your strata committee’s secretary.
How can by-laws be changed?
In much the same way as they’re formed; through a special resolution, or 75% or more of eligible votes. Because of the new strata law reforms, every strata scheme will be required to review their by-laws by 30 November 2017.