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The Changing Face of Strata Legislation

The Changing Face of Strata Legislation

over 1 year ago By Emily Harris

​It’s a David and Goliath story; one woman’s battle against her inner-city apartment’s bylaws to stop her pet dog ‘Angus’ getting evicted turned into a five-year battle and resulted in a successful ruling at the NSW Court of Appeal.

Last month, Sydney resident Jo Cooper rejoiced when her luxury apartment building was forced to overturn it’s no-pets bylaw after the NSW Court ruled that a blanket ban was “harsh, unconscionable or oppressive”, and that the bylaw also restricted the lawful use of each lot, as long as it didn’t infringe on other residents. While this decision isn’t a green light for all apartment residents to run out and purchase a new animal companion, it does mean that if they live in a building with a blanket ban on pets, they can now go to the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal (NCAT) to have the bylaw overturned.

The ruling is significant not only for the dog lovers of NSW but for the gatekeepers of residential apartments - our strata managers - as it sets a precedent for future changes to bylaws that they will have to keep on top of. In a recent Financial Review articleSharon Levy, a partner at Bartier Perry Lawyers who represented Cooper in her case, said that this ruling could cause significant challenges to what bylaws owners’ corporations can impose on apartment owners in the future. It also highlights the ever-changing nature of legislation within the property industry.

Jo Cooper and her dog Angus. Photo: James Alcock, Source: Domain 

While the pro-pet breakthrough has been well publicised in mainstream media, this is only one of the many changes to strata legislation that has occurred over the last month.  In the ACT alone, changes to the Unit Titles (Management) Act (2011)came into effect on Sunday, November 1 which in addition to adopting a pet-friendly rule, will allow strata committees to split budgets between commercial and residential properties, allow improvements that have environmental benefits and ensure that minutes of meetings to owners are provided within 14 days. Meanwhile, in NSW the state government are preparing to enforce a new Code of Conduct for hosts, guests, letting agents and online booking platforms in the short-term rental accommodation industry from December 18, 2020. Similar changes in laws and the introduction of new laws occur on a regular basis and can vary depending on the state.

Within facilities and strata management, the key duties revolve around ensuring a built environment (both residential and commercial) are insured, compliant with local laws, being maintained and that the properties’ administration is up-to-date and accurate. This can’t be achieved effectively without keeping a ‘finger on the pulse’ in regard to the laws, trends and forecasts that impact the property sector. Changes might be economic, financial, or cultural but if they can potentially impact the residents or civilians associated with a building, it becomes the strata manager’s responsibility to know and provide adequate advice on these changes.

This isn’t an easy feat and for all involved that work within the strata industry, keeping abreast of changes to legislation requires guidance from Australia’s key governing bodies, which are responsible for supporting the professionals and organisations involved in the operational management of Australia’s built environments. Some of these include The Facilities Management Association (FMA) which has branches throughout Australia, the Strata Community Association and the Government consumer regulators, which all have branches throughout the Australian states.

Design & Build spoke with the SCA NSW Strata Community Manager of the Year 2020, Jessica Kaye who Design & Build have had the pleasure of placing in her current role. Jess shared her thoughts and advice on keeping up with the latest regulations, adapting bylaws when situations change and working with Australia’s key governing bodies to ensure they are providing relevant and effective advice to their stakeholders:

“Compliance is at the crux of what we do and one of our core obligations to our clients. In what has been an incredibly challenging year, our communities are in desperate need for clear, practical and empathetic guidance.  We are fortunate to work in an industry with an active industry body and many excellent thought leaders who provide timely and constructive advice when key legislation/regulatory changes occur.

The key to cementing our position as trusted advisors to stakeholders and providing peace of mind to our clients is to leverage off the experience of others, to be communicative, open minded and to tap into the multiple resources provided industry wide. This is incredibly important given the nature of our constantly evolving industry.

My advice in staying up to date with legislation? Don’t hesitate to sign up for that newsletter, or subscribe to that mailing list. Participate in the conversation, be active in your teams, on your platforms, in your industry and community. In ensuring and promoting active participation and engagement, we will only be able to better our communities and ensure better compliance.”

Certainly, in today’s current climate with the pandemic having so many far-reaching effects on the Australian economy, keeping up to date with legislation and checking in with the state and national governing bodies has never been so important and will be crucial for strata managers heading into 2021.

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For strata managers seeking new opportunities, wanting further jobseeker advice or wishing to gain a better understanding on any of the information listed above, reach out to Aaron for a confidential chat:


Phone: 0410 457 057

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