Given the number of people living in strata schemes, it is surprising that many of them are still not aware that certain works require the approval of the Owners Corporation. This article is a quick re-cap on the types of approval required for works to your lot.

Cosmetic Works – section 109 of the Strata Schemes Management Act 2015 (SSMA 2015)

You do not need approval to carry out cosmetic work to common property in connection with your lot. Cosmetic work includes:

  1. installing or replacing hooks, nails or screws for hanging paintings and other things on walls,
  2. installing or replacing handrails,
  3. painting,
  4. filling minor holes and cracks in internal walls,
  5. laying carpet,
  6. installing or replacing built-in wardrobes,
  7. installing or replacing internal blinds and curtains,
  8. any other work prescribed by the regulations for the purposes of this subsection. The regulations do not currently specify any other types of cosmetic works.

Minor Renovations – section 110 of the SSMA 2015

You will need the approval of the owners corporation given by resolution at a general meeting to carry out minor renovations to common property in connection with your lot. Your Owners Corporation can pass a by-law delegating the power to authorise minor renovations to the strata committee. You will need 51% of the strata committee or 51% of the owners corporation to vote in favour of your works for the resolution to be passed. Minor renovations include:

  1. renovating a kitchen,
  2. changing recessed light fittings,
  3. installing or replacing wood or other hard floors,
  4. installing or replacing wiring or cabling or power or access points,
  5. work involving reconfiguring walls,
  6. any other work prescribed by the regulations for the purposes of this subsection. Currently these are:
    • removing carpet or other soft floor coverings to expose underlying wooden or other hard floors,
    • installing a rainwater tank,
    • installing a clothesline,
    • installing a reverse cycle split system air conditioner,
    • installing double or triple glazed windows,
    • installing a heat pump,
    • installing ceiling insulation.

However, works that include the following will not be cosmetic works or minor renovations:

  1. work involving structural changes,
  2. work that changes the external appearance of a lot,  including the installation of an external access ramp (note that this may also include works to install an air-conditioner),
  3. work that detrimentally affects the safety of a lot or common property, including fire safety systems,
  4. work involving waterproofing or the plumbing or exhaust system of a building in a strata scheme,
  5. work for which consent or another approval is required under any other Act,
  6. work that is authorised by a by-law,
  7. any other work prescribed by the regulations for the purposes of this subsection. The regulations do not currently specify any other types of works.

These works will generally fall under “Major works” as explained below.

Major works

Works that are not cosmetic works or minor renovations, commonly referred to as Major Works, are more serious works to the common property. You will need a by-law for these works to be authorised. This requires a special resolution to be passed at a general meeting of the owners corporation where no more than 25% of the value of votes cast are against the motion for your by-law. The value of a vote in respect of a lot is equal to the unit entitlement of the lot. The special by-law also requires the written consent of all owners of your lot. Once passed, the by-law will need to be registered at the NSW Land Registry Services and recorded on the common property certificate of title for it to be effective. This must be done within six months of the by-law being passed.

We have previously written an article on ‘How to Position Yourself to Get your By-law Approved by the Owners Corporation’ which you can read here.

We have also prepared a flow chart to assist you in determining if you need a by-law which you can view here.

Authorised work, is good work

It is very important for you to know what approvals are required for your works and to make sure you get the appropriate approval. This is because the Owners Corporation may require you to remove any works that are unauthorised. If you refuse, then the Owners Corporation could go to NCAT to seek orders that you remove the unauthorised works which would result in unnecessary costs and time spent. In addition, you may run into difficulties and delays in selling your lot if your works are unauthorised because prospective purchasers may not want to assume the risks of your unauthorised works.

This is general information and should not be considered to be legal advice. You should obtain legal advice specific to your individual situation.

Authors: Jasmin H.Singh and Allison Benson