The NSW government has announced sweeping changes to the state’s strata laws after an extensive review.
The new bylaws were announced by NSW Fair Trading Minister Anthony Roberts yesterday and include a new approach to pets in units, smoking on balconies and executive committees.
Mr Roberts said the reforms were in response to the community’s calls to modernise the strata laws.
“Since its inception over 50 years ago, the growth in strata title in NSW has been tremendous,” notes from Mr Roberts’ speech at the annual Strata Community Australia Convention said.
Mr Roberts said strata schemes were the most common land title system for apartment buildings in NSW and it is estimated more than 30 per cent of the state’s population now live or work in strata.
“On average, five new strata schemes are registered each day, and it has been estimated that within 20 years approximately half of the state’s population will be living or working in strata," he said.
“This means that, for the first time in history, most property owners will find themselves in a legally binding relationship with their neighbours regarding the communal upkeep and maintenance of their property.”
Mr Roberts said the current legislative framework is overly formal and complex and “did not cater for today’s world where, for example, many investor-owners do not live in NSW and cannot physically attend strata meetings”.
The minister also offered examples of changes to the model bylaws, which are scheduled to be introduced to parliament early next year.
“For example, there is currently no model bylaw that deals with smoke drift, and those bylaws that deal with hardwood floors are only concerned with fixing noise-related problems after installation," he said.
“Approval from the owner's corporation may not be required to install hardwood floors, even though this could have a significant impact on other residents.
“We are also looking to make changes to bylaws dealing with pets.”
Under the changes to the bylaws, pets will be permitted unless the strata committee votes against it.
“Fair Trading receives numerous complaints from people who are forced to choose between living in strata and keeping a pet,” Mr Roberts said.
“While many schemes would be happy to allow pets, it is often the default rule that they be banned, and potential owners and tenants are not always in a strong position to see the bylaws changed.”
It is expected the changes will come into effect by mid-2014.