for everything you need to know about strata...

strataman scratching his head
"While I can't answer all the questions that come across my desk I have listed a few of the more commonly asked ones concerning the main Strata Management issues.  There's obviously some truth to the rumour that the 3 P's in strata are People, Pets and Parking because it's really quite amazing how many times questions, which essentially deal with these 3 areas, keep coming up.  The only difference being that they all have a slightly different 'twist' to them.  Oh, yeah...I've also put in a few other FAQ links on Strata that I managed to dig up."
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No problem.....I've found a number of links to FAQ's from various sites around the place that should satisfy just about anyone.  I really hope you find what you're searching for but, unfortunately, that's the tough part - finding an exact fit to your problem.  Still, there may just be something in this lot that will help.  And, some of it makes fascinating reading - it really does - not to mention that FAQ's help you increase your knowledge of strata.

Below these links, I've also included a couple of "in-house" questions (I've handled myself) that cover a number of different topics.   So, happy searching...

Here we go...

Want Even More? - OK...

Not Quite FAQs...

This one is not quite a list of FAQs but a series of fact sheets that contain SOME FAQs.  Might take a bit of perseverance to uncover what you're looking for as there are a LOT of sub headings in this.  You'll understand when you get there.

  • LookUp Strata: Strata Factsheets - NSW
    (this one can be quite OVERWHELMING - just so much stuff and it can be difficult to sift through the many layers trying to find what you're looking for......scroll down the page and you'll see what I mean)

Phew...that's enough for now I think


Want Some More Frequently Asked Questions on Strata?

INSTRUCTIONS:  Hover over any question to see the LINK and LEFT CLICK on it.  You will then be directed to the answer at the bottom of the page.
To return to the main questions, simply click on any of the green "BACK" links on the right after each question...


Strata Title Terms and Jargon

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

The ANSWERS to the Frequently Asked Questions

Q: How does the Owners Corporation get the money to pay expenses?
Each year, at the Anuual General Meeting, a budget is presented to all attending owners to vote on.  This budget is for determining how much money will be allocated to the Administrative Fund (for the day-to-day running expenses of the scheme) and the Capital Works Fund (for any long term expenditure of a capital nature).  The total amount of the "levies" to be paid by the owners are determined on a unit entitlement basis and are usually paid quarterly. Back

Q: What happens if I don't pay my levies?
You will not only be unable to vote at any General Meeting, but you cannot be elected to the Strata Committee.  You will also be liable for a 10% interest charge on any outstanding levies, payable from the due date and until the levies are fully paid.  If the situation goes on for too long you may find yourself being chased by solicitors and even debt collectors.  If you ARE having financial difficulties then make sure you let the Strata Committee (or your strata manager) know of the situation as you might be able to enter into some sort of instalment arrangement. Back

Q: I've just moved into our strata scheme - how do I find out what has been going on in the past couple of years?
Assuming your strata scheme has been managed by a professional strata manager, you should contact that person to make an appointment to inspect the Books and Records of the Owners Corporation.  Make sure you go through the minutes of all the General Meetings and Strata Committee Meetings over the past few years, review the budget and check how/if the levies have changed over that time period.  Be on the lookout for any major works that are planned or for any disputes with owners.  Also check out how much money is in the Administrative Fund AND the Capital Works Fund as this can be an indication as to the overall 'health' of the scheme.  A low or non-existant Capital Works Fund COULD mean future troubles are on the horizon.  Also do not forget to ask the Strata Manager for a copy of the registered by-laws AND the Strata Plan. Back

Q: I want to be involved in the running of our strata scheme.  How do I get onto the Strata Committee?
Prior to or at the Annual General Meeting, nominate yourselffor election to the Strata Committee.  Those present will then vote on the election of the Strata Committee members.  However, to be eligible for selection, you must be "financial" which means that all your levies are paid and up-to-date. Back

Q: Our strata scheme looks very run down and is in need of painting, new carpets in the stair wells and the grounds are poorly maintained.  What can I do about this?
Try speaking with the Strata Committee in the 1st instance, but, if you don't get a satisfactory response, request that these items be placed on the agenda of the next General meeting.  You probably should speak to your strata manager because there is an additional requirement that you submit an accompanying explanation (with a maximum of 300 words) for the motion to be placed on the agenda.  The strata manager can help guide you through the process.  Also make sure you give the committee plenty of notice so your 'items' CAN be easily incorporated into the agenda. Back

Q: Our building needs painting but there aren't sufficient funds in the scheme's bank account to cover the cost.  What can we do?
There are 3 options open to you.

  • wait until enough funds are collected through the quarterly levy system
  • raise a special levy (either in the form of a lump sum or in instalments) to cover the cost of the works - with any special levy having to be OK'd at a general meeting
  • raise the necessary funds through a strata finance broker or bank that specialises in strata loans for major works - also requiring approval at a general meeting

Each of the above has its good and bad points.

Depending on exactly how much needs to be raised, waiting can be a good solution but if the amount is large and, if other 'things' crop up (that need fixing) before you've raised enough cash, then you end up creating an even greater problem.  You can be always 'chasing your tail' with this method but it's definitely the easiest on the owners.

The special levy is by far the neatest and most efficient way to resolve the issue but it IS felt by every owner in the form of "extra money" they have to provide.  However, if it takes a while to collect the special levy then the same problem mentioned in the first point applies.

And loans obtained through strata finance brokers or banks are becoming a more popular solution with loan repayments being relatively low and evenly spread across may months making it much easier (financially speaking) for owners.  The other major advantage is there's really no 'waiting period' as the job can be started virtually straight away.

The absolute BEST solution is to always make sure enough funds are collected from the quarterly levies for the Capital Works Fund to cover those unforeseeable contingencies so this doesn't occur again. Back

Q: There are some repairs I would like carried out at our strata building.  How do I get the Owners Corporation to consider doing the repairs?
Prior to the next general meeting, you should send a motion to the secretary or Strata Manager with a request that it be included on the agenda for discussion.  Don't forget to put together a compelling case to justify why the repairs should be done BUT remember that the Strata Schemes Management Act 2015 requires that you submit a written explanation of a MAXIMUM of 300 words relating to the proposal. Back

Q: I have some issues I want addressed by the Owners Corporation.  How can I have a general meeting called?
A general meeting may be called when a request in writing is signed by one or more persons entitled to vote and the unit entitlement of those persons is at least a quarter of the aggregate unit entitlement for the scheme.  NOTE:  The unit entitlement schedule for your scheme can be obtained from your SC.  The other way is for there to be a majority vote of the Strata Committee (SC) for the holding of a general meeting.

So, you'll either need to get some other owners to agree with your issues (and therefore want the meeting too) or you'll have to ask a member or two on the SC to support your views and vote at a Strata Committee meeting that a General Meeting be held. Back

Q: I cannot attend a general meeting but want to send someone to vote on my behalf.  How do I do this?
You must appoint a proxy in writing using the prescribed form and it should be given to the secretary before the meeting.  For large schemes, the proxy must be provided 24 hours before the meeting. Back

Q: I am a tenant in a strata building.  Do I have a right to attend any Owners Corporation meetings?
Under the Strata Schemes Management Act 2015, tenants must be notified of meetings.   Tenants have the right to attend but cannot vote, nor address the meeting unless authorised to do so by those present.  Also, the owners corporation has the right to exclude tenants from being present when matters of a financial nature are discussed. Back

Q: Someone keeps having loud parties in their unit and they ignore any letters from our strata manager. What else can we do about this?
Living in a Strata Scheme involves living in a community with other people.  Sometimes the best way to handle lifestyle issues is to try a friendly, direct approach to the occupants 1st, asking them to be mindful of others and more considerate in their behaviour.  People can, sometimes, be unaware that their actions are adversely impacting others and are more than willing to try to be more quiet next time.  However, if this friendly approach fails, you might have to get your strata manager to take the next step and pursue enforcement of the by-laws through the issuing of a "Notice To Comply" - and, if there's still no change, then you may need to pursue the matter through NCAT (the National Civil & Administrative Tribunal).  But, this should be a last resort option due to the time and expense involved. Back

Q: I want to use the swimming pool at 11.30 pm but the secretary of the Owners Corporation said I can't.  Is this enforceable?
The by-laws of your Strata Scheme will probably include the hours for use of the pool.  These by-laws should be checked in the first instance.  For any restrictions on the use of facilities to be enforced, they must contained in the registered by-laws. Back

Q: Our strata manager told us we have to instal window safety devices to certain windows.  Do we have a choice about whether we instal these?
The Strata Schemes Management Act 2015 and the Strata Schemse Management Regulation 2016 require that the Owners Corparation has the obligation of ensuring that Window Safety Devices are installed to all relevant windows prior to March 13, 2018.  Failure to do so leaves the Owners Corporation liable for a fine.  Not only that, but there could be insurance cover issues due to non-compliance.  This is a very big safety concern due to death and injury suffered by many children falling out of windows in strata schemes over the past few years.  The Owners Corporation is also responsible for making sure that the building remains compliant (i.e. safe) which means ongoing inspections to ensure that the window safety devices are still installed AND working correctly. Back

Q: Who is responsible for cleaning the exterior windows of my unit?  Some are very difficult to access with any degree of safety.
The individual owner or occupier is responsible for cleaning the exterior windows to a lot, even though this is common property.  The exception to this is if the window cannot be accessed with safety by the owner or occupier. Back

Q: I live in a downstairs duplex and the other owner wants to equally share all expenses when they occur.  Can we do this as, being a 2-lot scheme, there are only two owners?
The short answer is No.

Regardless of the size of the Strata Scheme, the Owners Corporation must maintain the prescribed records and accounts to comply with the Strata Schemes Management Act 2015.  A bank account must be opened in the name of the Owners Corporation and levies determined on an annual basis.  All expenses must be paid out of that account and a record kept of all transactions.

So, while you are effectively sharing the expenses anyway, they are paid for from either the Administrative Fund or the Capital Works Fund which you both equally contribute to and everything is accountable, recorded and above board.  If you happen to have money left over at the end of the year, the levies for the following year may not need to be as much although it's always a good idea to save a little for the proverbial 'rainy day' which will come along.  This is specifically what the Capital Works Fund is for. Back

Q: We have 6 minute books covering meetings over the past 5 years.  Can we dispose of some of them?
The Strata Schemes Management Act 2015 requires that most records (including the minutes of meetings) be retained for at least 7 years so, officially, you'll have to wait a bit longer before disposing of them.  Minutes of Meetings are very important documents so I believe they should be PERMANENTLY retained.  And, of course, many owners corporations are now resolving to store the records electronically which makes it really easy to hang onto them forever - which is ideal. Back

Q: Can I keep an animal in my unit?
Permission must first be obtained from the Owners Corporation before keeping an animal in your unit.  It will depend on the by-laws for your scheme as well as the type and size of the animal.  While the new strata laws (which came into effect from Nov 30th, 2016) make it much easier to get permission to keep an animal, the Owners Corporation CANNOT prevent a resident from keeping a "seeing-eye guide dog" or an "assistance animal" as referred to in the Disability Discrimination Act 1992 under any circumstances.

For some extra information on Pets in Strata have a look at
LookUp Strata - Can I keep pets in a strata building? AND
LookUp Strata - Keeping The Dog: strata committee can’t outlaw companion animal Back

Q: Can I carry out repairs to my own unit?
If the repairs involve common property, then generally the answer is "No".  Any works involving common property require the prior approval of the owners corporation. Back

Q: Can I renovate my kitchen and bathroom whenever I want?
Because these works involve common property, you MUST get permission from the Owners Corporation prior to commencing any works.  Approval is obtained at a General Meeting and, depending on the type of work involved, a by-law may also be required.  This by-law should be prepared by a solicitor - preferably by one who specialises in strata.  The Strata Committee can help determine if this is required or not. Back

Q: Can I install an air-conditioning unit into the outside wall of my unit?
Details of the proposal must be submitted in writing to the Owners Corporation and the Owners Corporation's consent must be obtained before commencing any work.  Approval is required at a general meeting and depending on the type of Air Conditioning system, a by-law may be required.  The by-law would need to be prepared by a solicitor - preferably one who specialises in strata.  However, you should always check your scheme's by-laws in the first instance in case one which covers this topic already exists. Back

Q: Can I erect a pergola in the rear garden of my townhouse?
Details of the proposal must be submitted in writing to the Owners Corporation and the Owners Corporation's consent must be obtained before commencing any work.  Approval is required at a general meeting and depending on the type of pergola, a by-law may be required.  The by-law would need to be prepared by a solicitor - preferably one who specialises in strata.  However, you should always check your scheme's by-laws in the first instance in case one which covers this topic already exists. Back

Q: I would like to receive Foxtel on my TV.  What's involved (from a strata point of view) and what permissions (if any) do I require to make this happen?
Foxtel is provided to home units through various means including:

  • Backbone cabling, which provides access to Foxtel for all units from a central point, either cabled to the Foxtel lines in the street or via a common satellite on the roof of the building
  • Individual satellite dishes - when only some owners wish to obtain Foxtel access

For the first situation, no permission is required (as long as the work on common property has been completed).  All the Foxtel technician will do is instal the individual connection to your unit.  When no access is available at the building, then permission is needed to install a satellite dish on common property.  If you are in any doubt as to which way may be better (or worse) for your building or situation, please discuss your plans with the Strata Manager for your scheme or the Owners Corporation before doing anything. Back

Q: I want to install floating floor boards throughout my unit.  Do I need to seek Owners Corporation approval before undertaking this work?
In the absence of a by-law already registered relating to this issue, installing floorboards is considered a "minor renovation" under Section 110: Minor renovations by owners of the SSMA 2015 - unless subfloor waterproofing is invovled.  At any rate, details of the proprosal must be submitted in writing to the Owners Corporation and approval at a general meeting MUST be obtained before any work can commence.  If subfloor waterproofing IS required,then a by-law will need to be drafted.  This by-law should be prepared by a solicitor - preferably one who specialises in strata.

But, no matter what, prior consent IS absolutely required from the Owners Corporation.  The biggest issue is noise transmission and a lot owner MUST ensure that this doesn't impact other owners.  If, after the installation, it IS found that any noise transmitting from your lot (due to the floorboards) disturbs your neighbours, you could easily find yourself at NCAT and you may be forced (by an NCAT order) to remove or cover the floorboards to stop the noise affecting others living in your Strata Scheme.  Therefore, the wisest course of action would be to make sure the right acoustic measures are taken BEFORE the installation and, through the use of the highest grade, sound proofing underlay possible, avoid any conflict after the installation.


Q: I would like to install a storage box in my car space.
Do I need Owners Corporation permission to do the instal even though the storage box is totally contained within my own lot?

You must seek the permission of the Owners Corporation to install anything within your car space as the general standard by-law requires that owners must NOT keep anything within their lot that is not in keeping with the appearance of the rest of the building.  Also, affixing something of that nature would generally involve common property so permission would be required for that work anyway.  If there IS a special by-law concerning storage units in your Strata Scheme then you should refer to those rules first before doing anything. But, in the absence of a specific by-law, you would need to send all specifications to the Owners Corporation and get their consent before commencing any work.  Approval at a general meeting is required and a by-law would then need to be prepared by a solicitor (preferably one who specialises in strata) and subsequently registered at NSW LRS. Back

Q: There is a grassed area near my unit.  Am I permitted to park my car on that space?
Parking on common property is not permitted unless special rights (via a registered Common Property Rights by-law) have been granted by the Owners Corporation to do so. Back

Q: The visitors car space is usually vacant so can I park in that space considering I am a resident owner who doesn't have an allocated car space?
If the provision of a visitor's car parking area was a condition of the Development Consent, parking by a resident is not permitted.  However, if this is not the case, the Owners Corporation may pass a resolution at ageneral meeting permitting a resident to park in the visitor's car space via a Common Property Rights by-law that needs to be drafted by a specialist strata solicitor and then registered. Back

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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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