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"All Strata Schemes are subject to a set of by-laws.  They're essential for the smooth running of every Strata Scheme even though they can cause their fair share of issues.  If you're involved in strata, it would be wise to familiarise yourself with the standard by-laws for your scheme as well as any special ones specifically setup by the Owners Corporation.  Here's a brief explanation of what's involved along with the usual links to some helpful 'additional reading' resources."

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STRATA BY-LAWS



Why have By-laws?

By-laws are made to facilitate the administration and harmony (ie the smooth and dispute-free running) of the Strata 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.

Without them the scheme would basically operate as a 'free-for-all' situation where anyone could essentially do whatever they pleased to their property, the common property and each other.  Just imagine the sort of chaos that situation would create over time.

By-laws usually pertain to:

  • Parking restrictions and use of allocated areas
  • Keeping of pets
  • Garbage disposal
  • Use of facilities and common property
  • Ownership and Maintenance responsibilities of some common property
  • Behaviour of residents - noise, hanging of washing, offensive behaviour, etc
  • Security and Safety measures
  • architectural and landscaping guidelines
  • other appropriate matters specific to the type of strata scheme in use
  • Installation and use of Floor coverings
  • Installation and use of Air conditioners, pergolas, tv & satellite access

All residents (tenants and owners) must adhere to the by-laws in accordance with the Strata Schemes Management Act 2015 - Part 7: By-laws (Sections 133 thru 150) or face the possibility of penalties (usually in the form of fines) issued by the NSW Civil & Administrative Tribunal (sometimes referred to as NCAT).  EVERYTHING ABOUT BY-LAWS IS IN "PART 7" GUYS - So don't skip over the link I just gave you.

Now, don't forgot our 'favourite' place - NSW Fair Trading.  They have some wonderful information on all this so just click on this link : By-laws in Your Strata Scheme  You won't be sorry....and it's much easier to read than the legislation.

TIP: By-laws are enforceable by law so make sure you read the Resolving disputes information page for more information on this subject

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Model By-laws

There are (were?) a predetermined set of by-laws, known as model by-laws, for the various types of Strata Schemes; i.e. residential, industrial, hotels, resorts, commercial, retail, mixed use and retirement villages BUT, The latest round of legislative changes (released on Nov 30, 2016) seemed to focus just on the RESIDENTIAL side of Strata - so, until it becomes clearer regarding the other ones, I will have to leave them in limbo for the time being.  Once the model by-laws appear for the other types I will add them to this page - so sorry about that for any of you guys in one of these other types.

Anyway, here's what we know about the NEW SET of Standard By-laws for RESIDENTIAL Strata scheme.

Which By-laws to use

TAKE NOTE:  Any new or amended model by-laws, passed by recent legislative changes, are not automatically applied to existing strata schemes but only to NEW schemes registered AFTER the legislative changes.  Owners Corporations may adopt the new by-laws by passing a special resolution at a general meeting.

Under current legislation, a newly-registered scheme has the choice of adopting the model by-laws, creating its own unique by-laws or using a combination of both.  Once the scheme is in operation, the Owners Corporation may add to, repeal or amend the by-laws for the scheme via a special resolution at a general meeting.  Under the previous legislation you could add or delete by-laws and simply lodge the changes at the NSW LPI but now, a consolidated set of by-laws has to be lodged at NSW LPI along with any changes.  AND, the latest legislation (Section 141 - Part 3 of the NSW SSMA 2015) requires that the secretary of the Owners Corporation ALWAYS hold a consolidated set of current by-laws.

IMPORTANT Note to the Owners Corporation - all strata schemes registered BEFORE 30th November 2016 MUST review their by-laws BEFORE 30th November 2017.  It would be best for the schemes affected to do a full in-depth by-law review sooner rather than later.  There's nothing worse than waiting till the last moment only to find there's some sort of issue resulting in frustration, pain and grief.  I think this is known as "Murphy's Law".

Make sure you have a copy

Every owner (and tenant) should have a full copy of the registered by-laws specific to their scheme, so they understand the rules they will be required to live by.  If you don't know the by-laws for your scheme, you can now get a copy from the Owners Corporation's secretary OR from the Strata Manager for your scheme.

If worse comes to worse - which should NOT happen - you could do a search at the Where Can I Find The ByLaws? section at NSW LPI to get the registered by-laws for a particular Strata Scheme.  Just keep in mind this is NOT a free service and it really should be your last resort.  Always ask your Strata Committee or Strata Manager FIRST.

If you are buying into a strata scheme, your solicitor should have obtained a copy of the registered by-laws.  They should be on the Section 184 Strata Information Certificate.  If you're a tenant, the owner of the property (i.e. the landlord) should have given you a copy within 7 days of signing the lease.

IMPORTANT Note to Investors/landlords - if you lease out your strata property, make sure your tenants always have a copy of the latest by-laws for the scheme.  Legislation dictates that it's your responsibility a copy is received no longer than 7 days after the signing of the lease.

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Before and After...

For NSW STRATA SCHEMES REGISTERED BEFORE 1st JUL 1997

If a RESIDENTIAL Strata Scheme was registered before 1st July 1997, the model by-laws in Schedule 2 of the Strata Schemes Management Regulation 2016 may be in use along with any custom-written by-laws.  The generic model by-laws apply to these early schemes as well as any by-law additions, repeals or amendments registered with the NSW Land and Property Information department (LPI).

For NSW STRATA SCHEMES REGISTERED AFTER 30th Nov 2016

If a RESIDENTIAL Strata Scheme was registered after 30th Nov 2016, it may have model by-laws, custom-written by-laws or a combination of both in place.  If no custom by-laws are lodged with the strata plan, the appropriate model by-laws for the particular Strata Scheme type in Schedule 3 of the Strata Schemes Management Regulation 2016 can be used as an alternative.  The details of any 'registered' by-law additions, repeals or amendments can be obtained from your Strata Committee or Strata Manager (if you use one).

For NSW STRATA SCHEMES REGISTERED AFTER 1st JUL 1997 but BEFORE 30th Nov 2016

This one is handled in a similar fashion to schemes registered BEFORE 1st July 1997.  So, if a RESIDENTIAL Strata Scheme was registered after 1st July 1997 but before 30th Nov 2016, it may have model by-laws, custom-written by-laws or a combination of both already in place.  If no custom by-laws are lodged with the strata plan, the appropriate model by-laws for residential Strata Schemes in Schedule 2 of the Strata Schemes Management Regulation 2016 can be used as an alternative.  The details of any 'registered' by-law additions, repeals or amendments can be obtained from your Strata Committee or Strata Manager (if you use one).

See Section 134 of the Strata Schemes Management Act 2015 for the 'official' wording.

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All Your By-laws MUST be consolidated SOON

The latest strata reforms (that came into effect on Nov 30th, 2016) require the Owners Corporation to CONSOLIDATE all the existing By-laws for the scheme and that THAT consolidated list be held BY the Owners Corporation.  This obviously means that the OC MUST go through the existing set of by-laws, make any changes and delete or add any other by-laws.  Obviously this could be a rather painstaking task but IT MUST BE DONE - AND BEFORE NOV 30th, 2017.  So you have been warned!!

It would be best NOT to leave this to the last moment (and, it's already April 2017 - at the time of writing this piece) so time is of the essence.  There's even a NEW form for doing this - the Consolidation/Change of By-Laws form.  There's also an great article on this requirement (by LookupStrata) called Consolidation of By-laws: Why Strata schemes need to do this sooner rather than later.



Amending, adding or repealing by-laws

In simple terms, all by-laws can be amended or repealed and new ones added by the Owners Corporation at a general meeting via a special resolution.  Section 141 of the Strata Schemes Management Act 2015 deals with the procedure for changing by-laws.

Something everyone should be aware of: Previously changes to, the creation of or the cancellation of by-laws had a time-limit for registration of 2 years AFTER the resolution was passed at a general meeting but NOW that time limit is just 6 months.  The shorter timeframe is effectively to protect purchasers from being "caught out" by old unregistered by-laws that suddenly come into effect.  This change now pretty much forces the Owners Corporation (or the Strata Manager - if one is being used) to get their act together and register the by-law(s) asap.  Of course, depending on when the property is purchased can still mean prospective buyers can be caught out but the chances are greatly minimised.

It can be tricky...

As the actual wording in a by-law (along with the way it's phrased) can mean the difference between compliance and non-compliance, it's strongly advised to have a specialist strata lawyer draft up any new by-laws or any amendments to existing by-laws to avoid any ambiguities.  Yes, I realise that will cost the scheme (and/or the lot owner) some money BUT, it's very, very important to make sure the by-law is expressed as clearly and as correctly as possible - and lawyers are good at that.

***TAKE SPECIAL NOTE***
If the by-law is a Common Property Rights by-law or an approval for renovations, involving YOUR lot, it's best to make sure this is done correctly from the start so you don't have ANY issues when you go to sell your lot.  Always better to be safe than sorry IMO.

Additional information on amending, adding or repealing by-laws

Below are a few links to information that details the conditions, limitations, restrictions, forms and other requirements for adding or changing by-laws.

NSW Land and Property Information links

Other By-law links

Restrictions on By-laws

There are a few restrictions for by-laws and the legislation mentions the words "harsh, unconscionable and oppressive" which seems to be the key point here, along with something about children and assistance animals.  It also touches on Community Management and Precinct Management as well as the Initial Period.  So I suggest you have a quick look.   It's not very long or too involved so don't worry.   These restrictions are covered in Section 139 and Section 140 of the NSW Strata Schemes Management Act 2015.

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Special provisions for Strata Schemes in Community Schemes

Community schemes deal with by-laws in a slightly different manner to Strata schemes so if you happen to live in a Strata Scheme that is part of a Community or Neighbourhood Scheme or you intend to buy into one, you should familiarise yourself with the Community Management Statement of the Community Association.  You can also read more about Community and Neighbourhood Schemes by following the link.

Enforcing By-laws

Quite often non-compliance of by-laws can be due to a simple misunderstanding or ignorance of the by-law being broken.  In a lot of cases, many by-law breakers didn't even know there was a law for what they were or weren't doing.

For this reason, it's always best to begin with a polite letter from the Strata Committee or the Strata Manager (if you have one) outlining the breach & seeking compliance with the relevant law.  Usually this will be enough for some offenders once they realise they have actually done the wrong thing.

However, there are always other more 'selfish' types who really couldn't care less and it's this minority that needs 'stronger' forms of persuasion.  Luckily there are a number of avenues open to those responsible for bringing the wayward into line.  However, it's not always an easy or smooth path so read my Resolving disputes information page to learn more about the various options available to you for resolving the tougher cases.

NSW Fair Trading used to supply a sample "Notice to Comply with By-law" form as a PDF but they removed it when Nov 30th 2016 came around.  Luckily(?) I had SAVED it (just in case) - but just remember that it was from the previous legislation so please use it ONLY as a GUIDE and NOT as an official document.  Some of the terminology is incorrect as is the reference to the legislation but most of the wording could be used as a template - Notice to Comply with a By-law [OLD legislation].

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Strata Title Terms and Jargon

If you need to know the meaning of one or more of the common terms mentioned above then have a look at the Strata Terms and Jargon Information page.


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DISCLAIMER:  All information on this website is of a general nature and is intended as a guide only.  Readers should check all information obtained from this website for accuracy from other sources and seek professional legal advice before taking any action based on any information obtained from this website.  Information on this website should not be substituted for proper legal advice.  The owners of this website will not be held responsible for any action taken as a consequence of same.

EXTERNAL SOURCES:  The owners of this website do not make any warranty or representations regarding the information, products, services provided by or qualifications of any external sources listed on this website.  Readers should make their own appropriate enquiries regarding accuracy, qualifications, licences, etc.  The owners of this website will not be responsible or liable in any way for any representations made by any external sources listed on this website.

IMPORTANT NOTE:  This website deals with strata matters in NSW, Australia only.  Legislation varies in different states and territories and in other countries.  For information pertaining to places outside of NSW, Australia please refer to the appropriate legislation for your region.



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