30 November 2016 brought in the new round of strata laws and with the decisions all done and dusted you need to know how they will affect you!

As strata lot owners it is essential to be aware of the changes to the strata laws, not only the ones you will like but also the ones you may not like so much. There are more than 90 changes which means getting up to speed will be no walk in the park.

This article won’t chronicle all of them, but it will show you that they are exceptionally varied.

As a start, it will now take just 75% of the total owners’ vote to make major decisions about the building’s development; this is a dramatic change from the current position where one dissenting vote is sufficient to quash plans to make the building ‘bigger and better’.

There are new model by-laws which can be adopted that give benefits to both your tenants and you as the landlord. The old presumption against having pets has been surpassed by a pro-pet position and smoke drifting from one tenant’s apartment into another tenant’s apartment could now cause a valid dispute.

In addition, owners can now work with the local council to deal with unlawful parking, including moving cars unlawfully parked on the property to the street, even where it may be possible for them to get a fine from the local council.

Strata residents are in for changes as well – the maximum fine for a breach of the by-laws is being increased and fines collected will now go to the owners’ corporation instead of the government – this is an added incentive to owners’ corporations to be more active. The available options to resolve disputes and conduct meetings have been changed as well with a shift in focus to make it easier for owners’ corporations to manage more of their disputes in-house and to be able to make use of technological advances to improve efficiency.

What about those of you who have an abundance of proxy voting at your meetings – limits have been put on that too! Now in a strata scheme of less than 20 lots any owner will only be allowed to use one proxy vote in addition to their own vote, and in schemes of more than 20 lots the limit is 5% of the available vote.

Watch out, tenants are coming aboard the strata scheme committees as well. From now on any scheme with more than 50% of the occupants being tenants must have a tenant representative on its committee. That representative need not vote and can be excluded from sensitive meetings (for example discussions about finances and breaches of by-laws) but must be appointed.

Of course, there is a protection for any decisions made, financial contributions levied or proceedings commenced prior to 30 November. These will remain valid and remain governed by the current legislation.

If you want to avoid being out of touch before you are out of time, just pick up the phone and give us a call!