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"STOP!  Don't act on important or complicated issues without first seeking the proper legal advice when it comes to Strata Law.  All Strata Schemes in NSW come under NSW Government legislation and are covered by the Strata Schemes Management Act 2015 and the Strata Schemes Management Regulation 2016.  But, due to the level of complexity involved in any legal issues in strata, it's highly recommended - even critical - you seek legal advice from a lawyer specialising in strata as that specialised knowledge could prove to be invaluable."
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STRATA LAW & STRATA LEGAL ADVICE


Specialist Strata legal advice should be obtained for:

  • Drafting or changing by-laws
    (eg alterations or additions to common property, exclusive use of common property areas, unit entitlement changes, etc)
  • 'Harmony' issues
    (such as neighbour disputes which can't be easily resolved and require external mediation or adjudication)
  • Contracts & Agreements
  • Problems with building defects
  • Dividing fence and boundary issues

Restrictions on seeking legal advice & initiating legal action in Strata

There's not a lot about legal stuff in the current legislation but, if the Owners Corporation (OC) or Strata Committee (SC) wishes to seek legal advice or initiate legal action resulting in a cost to the Strata Scheme, an authority to proceed motion will need to be resolved at a general meeting. This is known as the "approval".

Of course there are exceptions to this (as there always are) and the Act AND the Regulations detail what those exceptions are.  You will find the links to these parts of the legislation just below the box. But, essentially, the Strata Committee may approve such legal action WITHOUT the need for a general meeting resolution if the action is deemed

  • "urgent" AND is "necessary to protect the interests of the OC" AND "the legal costs do NOT exceed $15,000"
  • "not urgent" AND "the cost does NOT exceed $3,000".

Everything else will need official "approval".

So, the BOTTOM-LINE, as I see it, is:
  • Needs Approval: Everything over $15,000 - regardless of whether it's urgent or not
  • No Approval needed: Everything "not urgent" and NOT over $3,000
  • No Approval needed: Everything "urgent" and NOT over $15,000
And those 3 cover all conditions I can think of.

Some examples:
  • An action that is NOT urgent and will cost $3,000 - does NOT need approval
  • An action that is NOT urgent and will cost $3,500 - needs Approval
  • An action that is NOT urgent and will cost $15,000 - needs approval
  • An action that is NOT urgent and will cost $20,000 - needs approval

  • An action that is urgent and will cost $3,000 - does NOT need approval
  • An action that is urgent and will cost $3,500 - does NOT need approval
  • An action that is urgent and will cost $15,000 - does NOT need approval
  • An action that is urgent and will cost $20,000 - needs approval
NOTE: All the above amounts are EXCLUSIVE of any GST.

The Strata Schemes Management Act 2015 covers this in : Legal services to be approved by general meeting - Section 103 and Disclosure of Matters relating to Legal Costs - Section 105 as they may impact you and/or what you are doing.

PLUS the Strata Schemes Management Regulation 2016 adjust the amounts that are to be used.  This is in : Approval for legal services costs - Regulation 26.

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OTHER HELPFUL LEGAL INFORMATION

Here are a couple of helpful generic legal information sources ranging from an online legal information service to a Free Legal Service to the Law society branches in each state in Australia.  They're not particularly helpful in the area of strata but they may be of use in other areas (when needed).

SPECIAL NOTE:  While these 'generic' references can provide you with some basic legal information and assistance, you'll soon realise you'll require the services of one of the specialist legal firms that specialise in strata title if your situation/problem is strata specific.
At this point in time I have purposely omitted them from the list below.

If you don't know where to start, then simply type specialist strata lawyers nsw or specialist strata lawyers sydney into google and watch them pop up. There are some big name players in that lot so it's a matter of finding one you are comfortable using and who seems to understand your situation.  Most will give you a free initial discussion (generally over the phone) so you can explain your problem.  I don't currently recommend any one firm as I must remain impartial - but, if enough people ask, I will make a list of maybe 5 or even 10 specialist firms and add them here.  So ask away...


FIND A LAWYER & FIND ANSWERS
A seemingly comprehensive free service that assists you in the search for a specialist lawyer as well as helping you get some answers to some quite complex issues.

However, a quick trial run of the "Find a lawyer" search facility didn't manage to turn up any lawyers who specialise in strata.  Even though I tried a few different strata 'terms', I must admit to not really giving it a thorough trial - so you may have more luck.  At any rate, try 'Search by Location' under the 'Find a Lawyer' main menu tab.

Choose a location - I chose Sydney Lawyers - then look for 'Strata Law' in the 'Business & Commercial' section.  This turned up a handful of Strata lawyers in the Sydney area.  I can't vouch for their level of strata expertise though.

NOTE: There's lots and lots of links to all sorts of other interesting 'legal matter' areas and you may just find other areas of interest.  By the way, it operates on a national basis too.


LEGALAID IN NSW
This service provides some legal advice for free as long as you are 'eligible'.  Go to the Means Test Indicator section to see if you qualify.  Give it a try - you may find out you DO qualify for something although I doubt there would be much in the way of specialist strata lawyers here - now I could be wrong but I doubt it.

Anyway, you can go a little way into the system before it cuts out (without doing the means test) so it could be a starting point for some of the other 'people related' issues that can tend to arise in the complex world of Strata.  Try it out and let me know how you get on.......



THE LAW SOCIETY of.......

There's a Law Society branch (or equivalent) in every state of Australia.  If you're looking for a lawyer who specialises in Strata Title then you might like to start with the Law Society in your state.  Generally, specialist lawyers advertise in industry publications, newsletters and journals dealing with their specialty, so keep an eye out for these too.


Tip - Legal advice is something you should always get when dealing with areas as complex as Strata Title.  And, as I've said many times before....it's always better to engage a Strata specialist...especially when legal matters are involved.

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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