Quite often when we talk about Strata rules, we think only of the owner, but what about the tenant? Who has liability? There are many things that both tenants and investors may not know. It is one thing for a resident to know about the body corporate rules, but some of them can be very strange, such as not being able to change the curtains in an apartment.
How do these rules work?
Grant Misfud from Archers, the Strata professionals said: “A body corporate has its own set of rules because it's effectively the fourth layer of government beyond where you go from your federal, state and local. You've got specific legislation that allows that Strata titled community to put a set of bylaws in place. Now those bylaws are effectively in place to maintain the peace and harmony in the community, but also protect the values of the properties.
“So, when you're talking about the backing of the curtains, if there's no rules or regulations in place, it leaves it open slather for occupiers of the lot, be it an owner or a tenant to change them to whatever they like. Now, that could have a significant impact, particularly if it's facing the street frontage. And, yeah, the Strata schemes are usually looking for a bit of a uniform appearance also.”
How do tenants find out about these strange bylaws?
Each Strata community has the ability to make up their own bylaws, however there are strict guidelines for how those laws can be made. These laws will concentrate on what you can do, rather than what you cannot. For example, with the curtains, the laws would tell you that they need to fit certain rules and regulations. But how do tenants know about these laws without attending Strata meetings?
Grant explained: “It is the actual tenant that is responsible for adhering to those bylaws, and it's a requirement for the, within the tenancy agreements as well, that they are given a copy of those bylaws. Usually in the excitement of moving into a place and everything else you need to take care of, we understand that they don't always read this multi-page document that sets out all the rules.
“The body corporate themselves do issue what's called a contravention notice and that's a prescribed notice under the legislation, and that is then enforceable by way of dispute resolution through what's called the commissioner's office. And then it takes it to another step of enforcing those orders within a magistrate's court if they don't adhere to what has been ordered by the office of the commissioner. That can come with fines as well.”
What happens if these bylaws are breached?
Grant said: “It's a two prong approach. But what we at Archers always like to advise is that you should speak to them to begin with because they may not be aware that it's not even a rule. And we try not to just accept that ignorance is something that you should just let them get away with, but if you speak to them to begin with in an approachable or friendly way, you usually find that they're not aware and that they can quickly fix the problem, particularly if it's just parking in the wrong spot or something that's easily fixed.
“More serious things, if they're having parties and it's just getting out of control. They should be well aware that that's just not on. You need to be a bit stronger with it, giving them formal notices.”
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