Who is responsible for pruning trees on the property?
If the trees are common property, it is the Owners Corporation’s responsibility. If the trees are part of your lot, you are responsible, as the owner.
I want to use the garden area outside my unit just for myself, can I do this?
If it is part of your lot, yes. If it is common property, you will need to get the permission of the Owners Corporation. This usually requires an exclusive use by-law to be passed by special resolution (75% of members of the Owners Corporation have to vote for it) at a general meeting.
Can I do anything I like to my backyard?
If your backyard is part of your lot, you can do anything as long as it doesn’t breach by-laws, for example, you must not damage common property or create disturbing noise.
Can I do my own repairs to common property?
Only if you have the permission of the Owners Corporation. If common property needs repair or maintenance, the Owners Corporation should undertake that work, not an individual owner.
Who is responsible for looking after the wheelie bins?
The owners (or residents) are responsible for putting their own bins out, bringing them in, and keeping them clean.
Do I have to insure the contents of my strata unit?
While there is no obligation to do so, it is highly recommended that you take out adequate insurance on the contents of your unit. The insurance that the Owners Corporation organises covers the structure of the building and any fixtures inside lots (for example, sinks, baths, shower trays). However other contents such as your furniture, electrical appliances, curtains and carpets would not be covered. Owners can suffer major loss if their personal property is not insured in the event of a fire or through water damage. In addition, contents insurance usually covers your paint finishes on walls and ceilings. Refer to common property and the lot for more information.
Owners Corporation and by-laws
The Owners Corporation is made up of all the owners in the strata scheme. By-laws are made or changed to meet the needs of all owners and to assist with the running of the strata scheme. For more information on by-laws go to the By-laws in a strata scheme page.
What if I do not want to be part of the owner’s corporation. Can I manage my unit myself?
All owners are always members of the Owners Corporation. They have voting rights and obligations to pay levies and comply with by-laws. Owners cannot ‘resign’ from the Owners Corporation. However, you are free to manage your unit as you see fit. You can enter into a contract with a managing agent or caretaker to manage your unit, if you wish.
I want to get a dog. Do I need the Owners Corporation’s permission?
Check your by-laws first. Some schemes allow pets with the permission of the Owners Corporation – the strata committee can give this approval. Other schemes do not allow pets. If your by-law allows for pets then make a written request to the Owners Corporation and include any information to support your request, for example, information on the type of dog, how you will look after it and so on.
Someone is making a lot of noise and its disturbing my sleep. How do I get them to stop?
The best approach is to try to resolve the problem yourself, so talk to the person first. If that doesn’t work or, if you feel intimidated, you have two choices. You can ask the Owners Corporation to issue them with a Notice to Comply with a By-Law (in PDF format (size: 57kb) then seek a fine if they keep breaching. Or you can apply for mediation through Fair Trading to have a mediator assist you to discuss the issue with them.
Is it a legal requirement to have a noticeboard?
Only if it is required in your by-laws. If the Owners Corporation does not have a noticeboard it must send all meeting and other notices to each owner directly.
My neighbour’s boyfriend is parking his car in the visitors’ parking space every night, taking up the space. Is he really a visitor?
That is a matter for the Owners Corporation to decide at a meeting.
Our by-laws don’t deal with things I think are important. What can I do?
You can draft your own by-law and put it on the agenda for the next general meeting. It requires a special resolution – 75% or more to vote in favour. Once it is passed, the by-law must be registered with the Land & Property Management Authority, then it is an enforceable by-law that must be obeyed. You may want to get assistance from your managing agent or a solicitor.
I am an owner – what meetings do I have to go to?
While it is not compulsory for any lot owner to attend Owners Corporation meetings, a strata scheme operates better if those concerned take an interest in its affairs. There would usually be several meetings of the Owners Corporation a year, however the annual meeting, when levies are set for the coming year and the strata committee is elected, is the only meeting required to be held by law.
How do I get to have a say in the meetings?
In order to speak and vote at meetings you need to be an owner. Your name needs to be on the Strata Roll and you also need to be up to date with payment of your levies.
How many meetings should we have a year?
Each year the Owners Corporation must have one annual general meeting and also one strata committee meeting to appoint office bearers. Other meetings can be held as the need arises.
What happens if there is no quorum for a meeting?
Meeting adjournments can occur when there is not a quorum present at a meeting after 30 minutes from the start of the meeting. If a quorum is not present within 30 minutes of the scheduled time for commencement of the general meeting, the Chairperson must either adjourn the meeting for at least 7 days with notice of the rescheduled time and place being given by the Secretary to the owners (and any registered tenants) at least 1 day prior to the rescheduled meeting; OR decide that those who are present constitute a Quorum which means the meeting can go ahead.
If a meeting is adjourned, when reconvened if there is again no quorum within 30 minutes of the start time, it can still go ahead with those in attendance who are eligible to vote forming a quorum.
What can we do about people who refuse to attend meetings?
Encourage owners to get involved in the management of their scheme. However, there is no requirement for them to attend and they can choose to stay uninvolved if they wish.
Is there a deadline for providing minutes?
The Owners Corporation must keep full and accurate minutes of all general meetings and provide copies of the minutes of each meeting within 14 days to each member of the Strata Committee along with each owner of the strata scheme if the strata scheme is NOT a large scheme (ie a scheme with more than 100 lots).
Strata committee minutes must be placed on the noticeboard, or sent to all owners, if there is no noticeboard, within 7 days.
When can I use a proxy to have my say?
A proxy is where you authorise someone else to vote on your behalf when you are unable or choose not to attend a meeting.
How many proxy votes can a person hold?
The total number of proxies that may be held by a person (other than proxies held by the person as the co-owner of a lot) voting on a resolution are as follows:
1. one proxy if a strata scheme has 20 lots or less; and
2. if the strata scheme has more than 20 lots, a number equal to not more than 5% of the total number of lots
Are there any circumstances when I cannot ask someone to act as a proxy for me?
You will not be able to use a proxy if your name is not on the strata roll or if your levies are not paid in full.
We spend half the meeting talking about a matter that was not even on the agenda and then people voted on it. Is this OK?
Only matters on the agenda can be voted on and resolved. Matters not on the agenda may be discussed but would need to be put on the agenda for the next meeting for the matter to be voted on.
I asked the secretary to put an issue about parking on the agenda of the general meeting, but it was not included. What should I do?
Seek to raise it at the meeting and ask again to put the motion on the agenda for the next meeting. Alternatively lodge an application for mediation through Fair Trading to resolve the matter.
What is the difference between a special resolution and a unanimous resolution?
Both are votes required for certain motions at general meetings (not at strata committee meetings). A special resolution is where there must be at least 75% of owners in favour of the motion, based on unit entitlement. A unanimous resolution is where everyone votes for the motion.
Does the chairperson have the deciding (casting) vote at any meetings?
No, there are no deciding votes at general meetings (includes AGM) or strata committee meetings.
Do we need a quorum to hold a meeting?
Yes. A quorum for a general meeting is 25% of people entitled to vote or owners who hold 25% or more of unit entitlement. A quorum for an strata committee meeting is at least 50% of the strata committee members.
How do I get elected to the strata committee?
The strata committee members are elected at the AGM. Your nomination must be submitted before or during the AGM. Any owner can nominate themselves. Owners can also nominate a non–owner as long as they do not nominate themselves as well. Co–owners may be nominated by another co–owner of their lot who is not standing for election, or by an owner of another lot. Note: Anyone nominated for election to the strata committee must disclose any financial, business or family connections they may have with the original owner or caretaker. After being elected, committee members must also disclose any financial, business or family connections they may develop with the original owner or caretaker.
Can I attend an strata committee meeting?
You can attend the meetings if you are an owner (or a company nominee) but you will need the permission of the strata committee to speak. You will not be able to vote.
Where does the money for repairs and maintenance of common property come from?
Levies must be raised to do repairs. A motion is put to a general meeting to raise levies to cover the cost of the work. The amount that needs to be paid by each owner is based on their unit entitlement.
I have filled out a maintenance form to get a repair done which is taking time. What should I do?
Speak to the secretary or the strata managing agent to find out how the matter is progressing and if there is a valid reason for the delay.
Some of my possessions were in the garage and they have been damaged. Who is responsible?
The owner or occupier is responsible for things inside their lot. They may be able to claim on their contents insurance policy.
The Owners Corporation keeps putting up the levies. What can I do?
Levies are decided at general meetings and must be discussed and accepted by a vote of the owners. You can vote against the increase or put up a motion for a different levy amount if you wish. A managing agent may put a motion for an increase in levies on the meeting agenda but cannot impose levies. Levies are normally only increased if there is a need which includes rising costs. Ask why the increase is being made if you are not sure. If you are concerned about rising costs you could try to negotiate paying in instalments.
I did not get a levy notice, so I have not paid anything for ages. Is this a problem?
Your levies must be paid whether, or not, you receive a notice. Unpaid levies mean you will not be able to vote at meetings. Make sure your current address is on the strata roll so you can receive notices of both levies and meetings. You can pay your levies any time up until a meeting starts, in order to be financial and therefore eligible to vote.
What can we do when people do not pay their levies?
The Owners Corporation can impose a charge of 10% simple interest for levies not paid within one (1) month of their due date. The Owners Corporation can also take debt recovery action through the local court.
Why do we need to have a Capital Works Fund plan?
All buildings need to be maintained regularly to retain their value and stop minor damage and deterioration becoming major problems. Developing a Capital Works Fund plan means that future repairs and maintenance are anticipated well in advance. The Owners Corporation can then agree on the best way to raise levies to cover these future costs.
How much influence do we have over the managing agent?
The managing agent is the employee of the Owners Corporation. They can offer advice and direction, but the final authority lies with the Owners Corporation.
We sacked our managing agent – now they will not give us the financial records. What do we do?
Write to the agent. The Owners Corporation can apply to the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal (NCAT) for an order for the agent to return the records.
How do we find a good managing agent?
Finding a good Strata Managing Agent can be a key contributor to harmonious strata living. To find a good manager you could ask for recommendations from owners in other schemes, speak to local agents or contact Strata Community Australia. For any prospective agent, check to make sure they have a Strata Managing Agent’s licence, that you understand their fee structure, and that you understand what services they will be providing.
We have decided to manage our property ourselves. How do we organise this?
Terminate the agent’s agreement, then hold strata committee and general meetings to make decisions on your management issues. You may need to convene a general meeting to vote in a new strata committee who will then appoint the chairperson, treasurer and secretary at their first strata committee meeting. The strata committee will probably then take over many of the duties that the agent has been doing.