Last time, we talked about how to be a good neighbour in your strata scheme – the should-dos.
This time we will cover the by-laws in place to protect your rights and create harmony in your strata scheme – the must-dos.
The important thing to remember is that by-laws from one strata scheme to another will not be the same, so you should seek out a full copy of the by-laws or management statement specific to your Strata Company. Then you will know how you are expected to behave and what you can and cannot do in your new home.
The boring bit
By-laws are effectively a set of rules that the owners and tenants in a strata scheme must follow. Schedules 1 and 2 to the Strata Titles Act 1985 contain the standard by-laws that apply to all strata schemes unless your strata company has repealed them.
You can find out if you have by-laws unique to your scheme by getting hold of a copy of a full copy of the strata plan and check the following: the front page of your strata plan may or may not have a tick in the in the box that says ‘management statement.’ If it does, it means that your scheme has a unique set of by-laws in the form of a management plan. No tick means that your scheme is ruled by the standard by-laws (that is, Schedule 1 and 2, which WA people can find on the State Law Publisher website).
Remember that these by-laws may be changed at any stage by a general meeting of the strata company, so along with looking at the above, you should refer to the last page of the strata plan. This should be a spreadsheet that may or may not show a list of registered documents. You’ll need to obtain these as they may include more (or more recent) information that may apply to you or your tenants, such as additional by-laws, exclusive use rules, etc.
The interesting bit
By-laws are imposed to facilitate the smooth and dispute-free management and day-to-day running of the Scheme. They generally cover the use of common property and the behaviour of residents but can also deal with many other aspects of the scheme.
By-laws generally apply to the following areas:
Appearance of units and gardens
Behaviour and noise
Exclusive use of common property
Apportionment and payment terms for strata levies
Fines for breaches of the by-laws
Damaging, littering, or obstructing common property
General garbage disposal
Clothes drying and hanging
Vehicles and parking
Storing dangerous goods
Pools and recreation areas
Installation and use of floor coverings
Installation and use of air conditioners, pergolas, TV and satellite access
Without by-laws about these things, the scheme could potentially become a chaotic free-for-all where anyone could do whatever they pleased to their property, the common property – and cause disharmony for all. With each individual bringing different standards and personalities to the scheme, you can imagine how quickly disputes would arise without a set of guidelines in the form of by-laws.
Following the rules
The first step in getting everyone to follow the rules is to make sure all owners and tenants have copies of the by-laws / management statement and strata plan so they know their responsibilities in strata community.
All owners receive a copy of the full strata plan and by-laws and/or management statement at settlement. These are crucial to ensuring enjoyment to all owners and occupiers and must be included within ALL management agreements and adhered to at all times. Along with this, new owners are usually provided with a welcome notice by the strata manager, which outlines specifics for their site.
A strata company may attach a penalty or impose fees and charges to recuperate costs relating to breaking of by-laws, damage of property or recovery of overdue levies. More and more strata companies are adopting these cost recovery by-laws.
Breaking the rules
If a problem occurs, best practice is to bring the problem to the attention of the owner, property manager and/or tenant, as sometimes all of these people are unaware that they are breaking the by-laws, but ultimately it is the owner that is responsible for their tenants’ behaviour and they should manage this accordingly, whether directly or through their property manager.
If the rule-breaking continues, the strata company or strata manager (if their management agreement gives them the authority) can serve a 'Notice to Comply with a By-Law.' This notice should be sent to the owner, even if there is a tenant involved – as the owner is still responsible for their behaviour and needs to know what is happening on site.
Some strata managers send this to all concerned – the owner, property manager and tenant – providing them with sufficient time to rectify the behaviour or problem. If the behaviour continues after the timeline provided, then a second and final breach notice with a request for cessation of tenancy may be presented. This notice may coincide or be followed by application for orders by the State Administrative Tribunal.
Abode Strata Management is an accredited, WA-based boutique strata management company providing residential and commercial strata management. Abode specialises in efficient, tailored solutions and sensitive management of people, for small residential right up to large mixed-use developments. Follow Abode on Linked In.