By-laws exist in every strata scheme, but what purpose do they serve? They are policies that define the rules for harmonious living within a strata scheme, whether that relates to behaviour of residents and guests or issues such as pets, smoking, parking and the use of common property. These by-laws are kept on the Certificate of Title and they vary from strata scheme to strata scheme.
How are by-laws formed?
By-laws are self-defined within each strata scheme. The Strata Schemes Management Regulation 2016 sets out a number of what are called model by-laws that provide a framework for modern strata rules. These model by-laws can be voted in, adapted or alternatively, chosen not to be voted in at all by an owners corporation. A by-law requires a special resolution to be passed, meaning an approval by 75% or more of those eligible to vote. By-laws must meet certain restrictions and conditions, otherwise can be deemed invalidated by the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal (NCAT).
What happens if by-laws are breached?
Owners and tenants who live within a strata scheme are obligated to comply with these by-laws, and they may be held responsible for guests visiting them on the strata property too. If a by-law is breached, the alleged offender can be contacted then sent a Notice to Comply with a By-Law via email or letter if the strata committee chooses to issue one by a majority vote.
If the problem persists once this notice has been given then the strata committee may choose to apply to the Tribunal, which can decide to issue a financial penalty for the breach.
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Is it possible to change a strata scheme’s by-laws?
Yes, and individual by-laws are amended all the time. It requires a special resolution of 75% approval or more to introduce or amend a strata scheme’s by-laws.
How can I review my strata scheme’s by-laws?
You can review the by-laws of your strata scheme by contacting either your strata manager or the secretary of your strata committee. If you are a tenant, you should receive a copy of the by-laws soon after you sign your tenancy agreement. If you are looking to buy a unit within a strata scheme it is also important to review the by-laws before you sign on the dotted line so you can be sure they will suit your lifestyle. You can view the by-laws via an inspection of the Strata records prior to purchase. The selling agent sometimes has a copy for you if you ask.
Further information about by-laws can be found at the NSW Fair Trading website or via your strata manager.