Minggu, 03 November 2013

Strata reform: early signs

Some early signs of the NSW State Government's new strata laws are reported today in the SMH, including new model by-laws that allow pets, and 'encouragement for tenants' participation in apartment block affairs.'

Without any further detail, it is difficult to say anything definite about these prospective reforms, except that they look to be heading mostly in the right direction.

In particular, a more liberal approach to pets would be welcomed by many people living in strata. We think a model by-law that allows pet-ownership is a good start, but more is needed to really secure people's freedom of choice in the matter. Strata legislation should prohibit and invalidate by-laws that restrict the keeping of pets without regard to the circumstances of each case.

Also, our residential tenancy laws should be reformed too, to prevent landlords from imposing their own unreasonable restrictions on pet-ownership.

As for tenant participation in strata governance, we think this would be done most appropriately by distinguishing by-laws about the conduct of residents from the other affairs of owners corporations, and giving tenants a say – and a vote – on them. 'Conduct by-laws' would include by-laws relating to keeping pets, smoking, playing music and making noise, and the use of common areas and facilities. Giving all strata residents a say in these matters is not only fair; it may also mean more effective governance.