Coronavirus Questions: How Can By-Laws Affect the Way We Handle COVID-19?

12 June 2020

Since COVID-19 spread across the world, there’s been one word used often to sum up the situation: unprecedented. It’s therefore not surprising that typical by-laws in place for strata properties might not cover scenarios such as this.

By-laws are in place to make a strata property a great place to live. These rules are agreed to by the community that shares a common property, and they allow a strata scheme to provide high quality services and value and ensure a harmonious way of living. So how might by-laws be updated and adapted in light of the new situation?

Electronic voting methods

It’s natural that to prevent the transmission of COVID-19, strata schemes may be looking to use alternative voting methods such as teleconferencing when it comes to holding meetings of the owners corporation. If your owners corporation hasn’t already passed a by-law allow for alternative voting methods, then there is a process to put this in place.

Each owners corporation is obligated to hold an Annual General Meeting per year. It’s important that every owner has the right to vote and have a say on what happens within the strata scheme, and so for each owners corporation it will be a matter of finding what works best for them – whether this is teleconferencing, email, phone or an in-person meeting with social distancing measures. Your strata manager can help you to find the right option to suit the size and the residents of your owners corporation.

Airbnbs and short term stays

Considering the new awareness around how COVID-19 is being managed, there may have been some recent discussions amongst owners about changing the rules on short term stays within their strata property. As of 10 April 2020 there is a new law in place regarding this situation within New South Wales.

Owners corporations can now, with support by at least 75% of owners, adopt by-laws that limit short-term rental accommodation in their strata scheme if it is not the owner’s principal place of residence. Note: if someone does live in their unit and decides to rent out their home or rooms short-term, this is not limited under the model by-law. Whether or not your strata scheme decides to put this by-law into place, short term guests must comply with the strata rules and be considerate of residents.

Cleaning and maintenance services, plus capital works

There have also been some questions about Coronavirus for our strata managers when it comes to cleaning, maintenance and capital works. Owners corporations are required to keep up maintenance and cleaning to provide a safe and operational environment, but your owners corporation might wish to implement changes to the strata scheme’s budget to minimise unnecessary spending. 

Many strata properties have closed their shared facilities such as swimming pools, rooftop gardens and recreation rooms. There may be owners who argue that they are paying for these recreational facilities in their levies and have the right to use them, but ultimately Fair Trading NSW has stated that these facilities should be closed in the short term. There might also be discussions and decisions about altering planned works to financially adjust for this new situation. Above all else, clear communication will help everyone get through this. 

Jamesons Strata Management is still providing our regular services and we are available via phone and email. You can visit our COVID-19 page for information and resources regarding Coronavirus and strata management.