Monday, August 22, 2016

New strata rules and you

Starting 30 November 2016, there will be some significant changes to the laws affecting tenants living in strata blocks. That's actually a lot of us - more than half of all people living in strata in NSW are tenants.
You can read more about the changes here, but what are the big changes that will be of particular interest to tenants? As is often the case with legislative reform, it's a mixed bag. Here are the ups and downs of four big changes which will affect tenants.

Considering the futility of life without strong tenancy rights
The model by laws will now be much more pet friendly. The default position will be that pets are allowed so long as the pet owner is responsible for the animal.
This is only the default for new by-laws. Existing strata schemes will need to vote to adopt the change, and even new strata schemes can choose not to use it - and maintain an anti-pet stance.
Of course no matter what the strata scheme decides, currently your landlord still has the ability to put a no-pets clause in a residential tenancy agreement. There is still a long way to go before tenants might make grown-up decisions about pets for themselves.

Hang me out to dry, you wrung me out, too too too many times
Good news - hanging your washing up on your balcony will no longer be a breach of the by laws, so long as it's not hanging over the balcony railings. Again, this only applies to strata schemes which adopt the new by laws.

Over occupancy
We won't take up too much room!
One of the interesting changes is the ability for strata schemes to limit the number of people who can live in the premises to no more than two adults per bedroom.
By extension, tenants will have clearer protections against strata schemes arbitrarily deciding to cancel key cards with the introduction of this by law removing one of the dodgy reasons some strata schemes have used to lock tenants out of their homes.
It's important to remember that vulnerable tenants who are being forced into overcrowded accommodation may not actually have much of a choice in these matters. That's not to say strata should allow overcrowding, but it is important that it is the exploitative landlord who is penalised by their breach rather than their vulnerable sub tenants. It is not clear in the new law that this will always be the case.

Tenant representation
Whiskers thought he was fitting in well
at his first strata committee meeting
There are two aspects of the new legislation that let tenants have something of a say in their strata community. Any tenant will be entitled to attend any meeting of the owners corporation (except during discussions of financial matters), though they won't be allowed to speak or vote.
In strata schemes where more than 50% of the lots have tenants, the tenants will be able to elect a tenant to represent who can speak, but not vote, on their behalf. How effective this will be at ensuring the majority of the strata community is heard remains to be seen.


  1. Can the Body Corporate overrule a landlord regarding pets? As in if the landlord agrees to it, can the Body Corporate refuse?

  2. Hi Anna,
    You need both the landlord and the owners committee (depending on the by law) to be on board. Both can potentially have a veto over the tenant.
    The owners committee does at least have to follow their own by law however, which has to apply equally to tenants and owners. Landlords currently can be entirely unreasonable, which really does need to change.

  3. Thanks Leo, it's actually the landlord who is fine with me having my dog - she's my sister-in-law! I'm wondering if I move into the apartment she owns if the Board can overrule her.

    1. Hi Anna - that's right. If the by-law says no pets, it means no pets in strata regardless of what the residential tenancy agreement allows.

  4. Eviction and displacement so that landlords can earn greater profits from Airbnb and others?


Please keep your comments PC - that is, polite and civilised. Comments may be removed at the discretion of the blog administrator; no correspondence will be entered into. Comments that are abusive of individual persons, or are sexist, racist or otherwise offensive will be removed, so don’t bother leaving them.