You probably hear a lot about owners’ rights and responsibilities within a strata scheme, but are things different for a tenant who rents a unit on a strata property? Tenants do have rights and the chance for representation within the strata scheme, so let’s look at the details.
For tenants in a strata property, requesting repairs will be the same as in a standard titled home; you can get in touch with your property manager or landlord and they will arrange for the repair to be carried out. The only difference is that the owner of the unit must adhere to the strata scheme’s by-laws, meaning that some work may require approval from the owners corporation before going ahead. Any urgent repairs should be carried out in a timely manner as per your lease agreement.
Complying with by-laws
If you’re renting a unit in a strata scheme, you should have been provided with a copy of the scheme’s by-laws within 7 days of your lease being signed – as well as any changes as time goes on. It’s important to look through these carefully, as you and any visitors to your unit will be expected to stick to these rules as part of your agreement. Any breaches mean you may be served with a Notice to Comply with a By-Law from the owners corporation, which can potentially be escalated to a penalty if deemed appropriate by the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal. The good news is that if your neighbour is breaching those same by-laws, the same process can be used to curb their behaviour!
Keeping a pet
Ultimately, your ability to keep a pet will depend on the specific by-laws of the strata scheme. If your lease and the by-laws both allow for the keeping of pets, then chances are a furry friend will be fine. If the pet is causing a nuisance then other occupants may be able to apply for an order for that pet to be relocated, so it pays to control any barking or disruptive behaviour. By-laws cannot stop you from having assistance animals living with you, such as seeing eye dogs. It is important to always seek the advice of your agent or landlord first to understand if they will allow pets within the unit at all.
One of the many recent changes to the NSW strata legislation covers tenant representation at strata meetings. If you’ve been registered on the strata roll (which your landlord should do within 14 days of the lease being signed), then you can receive notice of and attend strata meetings. You can be asked to leave the meeting while financial matters are being discussed by owners, and you will not be able to vote on matters unless you’re the designated proxy of an owner.
If the strata scheme has at least 50% of the lots tenanted, then you can collectively nominate a tenant representative. This representative should receive agendas and minutes of meetings held and can also speak on your behalf at strata meetings.
Further information can be found at the NSW Fair Trading page on Tenant Participation.