NSW gets new strata laws

Strata laws in NSW are about to undergo some of the biggest changes in 50 years including those dealing with pets, smoking on balconies and noisy floors

In an exclusive announcement with the Sydney Morning Herald, NSW Fair Trading Minister, Anthony Roberts, said new by-laws are set to take effect in mid -2014, and will, for the first time, cover smoke drift and allow pets by default, rather than banning them as is now the case. In addition, the issue of noisy timber and tiled floors will be addressed before the floors are laid, rather than after they become a problem, as happens now.

Mr Roberts noted that 30 per cent of people in NSW either live or work in strata and there are now more than 72,000 strata plans – ranging from two-unit duplexes to massive mixed residential and commercial blocks. In 20 years, it is estimated half the state’s population will live in apartments or townhouses.

“We’ve got to develop a way for people to live for the next 50 years,” he told ABC Radio.

“In the area of pets, parties, smoking, parking – issues that affect people on a day-to-day basis – we’ll be giving power to the executive committees.”

In a win for tenants, laws around how decisions are made will also undergo significant reform.

Mr Roberts told the Sydney Morning Herald that proxy harvesting, where one owner rules a whole building using votes mostly from non-residents, will be banned and there will be greater encouragement for tenants’ participation in apartment block affairs.

The new laws will restrict proxy votes in schemes of more than 20 units to 5 per cent of the ownership. In buildings of 20 units or fewer, owners will only be allowed to carry one proxy vote.

Mr Roberts also revealed postal votes and secret ballots, as well as online teleconferencing, electronic voting, flexibility in the timing of annual meetings and greater transparency would be a part of the changes.

Furthermore, executive committee members will have to declare conflicts of interest and then remove themselves from voting on issues where any exist. Anyone who has a professional financial interest in the building – such as strata managers, building managers, caretakers and agents – will no longer be allowed to sit on executive committees.

The laws will now make living in an apartment more appealing to residents in NSW, particularly those with pets. For anyone wishing to make the move to apartment living, Grace Removals can take care of all aspects of your move including packing and storage. Grace can even provide safe and secure pet relocation.