Renovations - What approval if any do I need?

When considering renovations to your lot you need to understand what approval (if any) you require from the owners corporation.

The Strata Schemes Management Act 2015 [NSW] and the Strata Schemes Management Regulation 2016 [NSW], introduced a number of changes that will allow owners to carry out works involving common property where a by-law is not required and in some cases, without the approval of the owners corporation. The new legislation provides for three ‘tiers’ or types of works with different levels of approval required.

The three tiers of approval of works are Cosmetic, Minor and Major.



A lot owner effectively owns the airspace (and anything included in the airspace) inside the boundary walls, floor and ceiling of the lot.  Lot airspace may include balconies and courtyards. Everything within the airspace must be maintained at the owners cost.

The Lot

In most strata schemes, the lot owner owns the inside of the unit but not the main structure of the building. Usually the main walls encompassing the lot, the ceiling, roof and the floor are common property. The internal walls within the lot (eg. The wall between the kitchen and the lounge room), floor coverings such as carpet and fixtures such as baths, toilet bowls and bench tops are all the property of the lot owner.

It is also important to note that while no-load bearing internal walls are not defined as common property, a Council Development Application (DA) may still be required where you are changing the dimensions of any room. The Council Development Application requires approval by the owners corporation.

Areas of Common Property

The following is a checklist for common property:

·         Floor includes a ramp or stairway

·         Boundary tiles originally attached to a common property surface (eg. The floor or boundary wall)

·         Pipes in the boundary walls or floor, or servicing more than one lot (ducting panels)

·         Electrical wiring in the common property or servicing more than one lot

·         Parquetry flooring and floor boards originally installed

·         Vermiculite ceilings, original plaster ceilings and cornices

·         Magnesite finish on the floor

·         Balcony doors are usually common property if the strata plan was registered after 1 July 1974

·         Load bearing columns or walls

·         The slab dividing two storeys of the same lot, or one storey from an open space roof area or garden areas of a lot (eg. A townhouse or villa), is usually common property if the strata plan was registered after 1 July 1974, unless registered strata plan says otherwise

·         The slab or wall between two lots (wall includes any door, window or other structure within the wall and their working parts)

Alterations to Common Property

Section 108 of the Strata Schemes Management Act 2015 provides that an owner of a lot can add, alter or erect a new structure on common property following approval by special resolution at a general meeting. Any proposed renovations to a lot that involves additions, modifications or potential damage to common property must be supported by a ‘Common Property Rights’ By-Law which is approved by special resolution at a general meeting of the owners corporation.

Clarification of Common Property

The registered strata plan defines the boundaries between common property and lots in a strata scheme. If you require further clarification about areas of common property for your strata scheme, please contact your strata manager for further information or the LPI. (Land & Property Information NSW

Common Property Rights Bylaw

If the alteration affects common property, a ‘Common Property Rights’ By-law must be drafted (preferably by a solicitor approved by the owners corporation).

Common inclusions are points such as:

·         That the work is performed by a licensed tradesperson and the Owner to provide confirmation that a licence check has been completed

·         That the tradesperson is adequately insured and includes public liability insurance

·         That the ongoing repairs and maintenance of the works completed and any part of the common property impacted, remains with the lot owner, both current and future.

·         That the Owner is responsible for reinstatement of any damage to common property.

·         That the Owner indemnifies the owners corporation against any legal liability, claim or cost in relation to the works and ongoing maintenance or matters arising relating to the works.

·         That the owner indemnifies the owners corporation against any costs incurred in the making and enforcement of this by-law and or through the process of approving the proposed works

·         That the work will be performed whilst creating minimal disturbance to other residents and avoiding damage to common property. For example:

o    Transportation of all construction materials, equipment, debris and other material will be managed to ensure no damage to the common property or in a manner reasonably directed by the owners corporation.

o    All areas of the building outside the lot will be protected from damage by the works or by the transportation of construction materials, equipment and debris in a manner reasonably acceptable by the owners corporation.

o    The works will be performed during times approved by the owners corporation

o    The lot owner will comply with the requirements of the owners corporation to comply with any by-laws and any relevant statutory authority concerning the performance of the works.

The ‘Common Property Rights’ by-law must be presented at the general meeting as a special resolution. For a special resolution to be passed, no more than 25% (of the aggregate unit entitlements) of lot owners who are entitled and voting on the motion can vote against the resolution. If the motion is passed arrangements need to be made to have the by-law registered within 6 months of the passing of the resolution, otherwise the decision is considered lapsed and the motion would need to be passed again at another general meeting.

Any owners who fail to follow the correct procedures run the risk of having orders made for the reinstatement of common property to its original form.

In the first case for all renovations speak with your Strata manager first.

Vital Strata have a comprehensive application process for lot owners renovations and can guide you through the approval process.

Contact Vital Strata today!
02 9008 1112



Window Safety Device Requirements – The time to act is now!

Whats New?

The Strata Schemes Management Act was varied to require owners corporations to install window safety devices on both existing buildings and new developments.

Simply, the change is to prevent children falling from windows. Owners Corporations must have devices installed on all common property windows above the ground floor by 13 March 2018. The safety devices must be robust and childproof.

Which windows does this apply to?

Owners’ Corporations must have such devices fitted on all common property windows above the ground floor to prevent children falling through them.

All strata buildings in NSW must be fitted with devices that enable the windows to be locked at 12.5cm when the device is engaged.

These rules apply to openable windows above the ground level that are accessible to children. If the openable window is less than 1.7 metres above the floor and the floor is more than 2 metres above the outside ground level, then a safety device must be installed. The window opening must be restricted to a maximum opening of 12.5cm. See diagram below.

Window Safety device.jpg

Will this mean the windows will never be able to open? 

No. Residents will still be able to open their windows. A window lock that allows the window to be fully opened, fully closed and also locked at 12.5cm complies with the legislation. When children are in the unit or townhouse, or on all common access areas such as stair landings, it makes sense to engage the locks at 12.5cm or less at all times to prevent falls.

What should I do now?

1.       Speak with your Strata Manager at Vital Strata Management.

2.       Conduct an audit of windows in your scheme that will need a safety device to comply with the legislation.

3.       Obtain quotes from qualified tradespeople. It is unlikely that a local handyman will have the suitable testing equipment to grant certification so stick with the professionals.

4.       Select the quote for your purposes at a Strata Committee meeting.

5.       Engage the selected tradesperson to carry out the work.

The NSW Fair Trading Department has a lots of useful information, and we strongly recommend that you check whether your building is compliant. Have a look at their dedicated window safety page HERE. In case of any doubt, please check with your strata manager.

The NSW Fair Trading Department fact sheet can be found HERE.

The NSW Fair Trading Department has produced a series of short videos. Hit THIS link!

If you need professional guidance on these matters contact Vital Strata today – We can help!


Strata Made Simple!



Insurance & Building Valuations – What’s changed?

There are a few matters to consider when dealing with insurances and building valuations under the new legislation.  Below is a brief outline of these changes:


Insurance Quotes – Under the new legislation strata agents must now provide at least 3 insurance quotes on each type of insurance held by the Owners Corporation.  For any reason that an agent cannot obtain 3 quotes they must provide written reasons why they cannot do so – In accordance with Section 165.

Public Liability Cover - $20,000,000 is the new minimum public liability cover against damages to property, death or bodily injury – In accordance with regulation 40

Commissions & Training Services -  At every AGM a report must now be provided outlining the commissions and training services provided (in last 12 months and estimates for the coming 12 months) to the strata agent by a third party in connection with the exercise of their functions as the agent – In accordance with Section 60


Minimum building amount under damage policy – For insurance purposes the replacement building value calculation method has changed.  Now an allowance for 24 month lead time from commencement of the insurance policy to reconstruct in the event of total destruction.  This was previously 18 months - In accordance with Regulation 39

Building Valuations – The mandatory obligation to complete a valuation for insurance purposes every 5 years has been removed from the new legislation.  However, based on regulation 39 and the recommendations of the Insurance Council, Vital Strata contends it is sensible to complete an updated valuation by a Qualified Valuer say every two to three years. This ensures your building is covered for its full replacement value in the event of complete destruction. Your home is your greatest asset and therefore every consideration should be taken to protect this major asset to avoid possible financial disaster should it not be insured for its complete cost of reconstruction.


If you need professional guidance on these matters contact Vital Strata today – We can help!

Strata Made Simple.

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Debt Collection & Levies – What’s changed with the new legislation?

The introduction of the new Strata legislation in November 2016 has seen some important changes that all Strata Managing Agents should be aware of regarding debt collection and levies.

Payment Plans – Owners Corporations are now able to agree to payment plans with owners in arrears for a period of up to 12 months – In accordance with Regulation 18.

Debt Recovery Action – 21 days are required after the service of notice of recovery action has been issued before any debt recovery action can be taken against a lot owner - In accordance with Regulation 19.

Mortgagee in possession – Now responsible for the Owners Corporation recovery costs of unpaid levies – my personal favourite!

Levy Notice – 30 days’ notice (minimum) is now required before the levy due date.  This rule also applies for special levies when funds may be required immediately – In accordance with Section 83 (3)

Discount on Levies – Now only ordinary resolution required where previously a special resolution was required in accordance with section 85 (4)

Special Levies – Now can be raised to either the Administration Fund or Capital Works Fund.  

Let Vital Strata provide you with professional guidance on these matters.  Contact Vital Strata today – we can help!

Strata Made Simple.

Strata Inspection Reports – Why do they matter?

Every buyer considering the purchase of a property, whether it be residential, commercial or mixed use should engage the services of a fully qualified inspection company with an extensive property background. Before engaging a company to conduct an inspection of the Owners Corporation records make sure you ask the company what property background their inspectors have to ensure you will be obtaining a professional report.

A Strata Inspection Report can also be known as an Owners Corporation records inspection or a strata search.

A Strata Inspection Report is similar to a building report you may obtain if you were purchasing a house. This report certainly does not replace a building inspection report, however a Strata Inspection Report should provide specific details of what is happening within the particular property. A Strata Inspection Report should typically include:

·         Who is the current owner?

·         What are the quarterly levies for the property and when are they paid to?

·         What are the voting rights of a particular lot and what is the lot unit entitlement?

·         Is the building adequately insured?

·         What is the current value of the building?

·         Have there been or are there any current or proposed special levies?

·         How much is in the Capital Works Fund and Administrative Fund?

·         Is there a Capital Works Fund forecast in place?

·         Are there any current legal matters outstanding?

·         Are there any building defects or warranty claims?

·         Is there any anticipated major expenditure?

·         Does the scheme meet fire, lift, pool, WH&S, asbestos & window compliance?

·         Are copies of building reports, compliance reports or pest inspection reports available?

·         Is there information in the records approving animals or are animals in fact permitted?

·         What is the building harmony like?  Are there many breaches in By-Laws?

·         Are there copies of AGM Minutes, EGM Minutes and Strata Committee Meeting minutes?


If your considering purchasing a property contact Vital today – We can help!

Strata Made Simple.



Is your Management Agency Agreement (MAA) compliant?

Following the introduction of the Strata Schemes Management Act 2015, many MAA’s will expire at the end of May 2017.

The legislation stipulates that Owners Corporations must be in a current MAA with their managing agent which means no more roll over agreements.

Regulation clause 68 replaces clause 14 (1) in schedule 3 of the Act as regards to the term of appointment of a strata managing agent.

Regulations 68 is best outlines as follows:

Please remember an extension would require a formal resolution at a strata committee meeting and the extension cannot go beyond the date of the next AGM.   Furthermore, if the Strata Committee extends the term of appointment they must provide the agent with 1 month notice of its decision not to reappoint or further extend agreement.

Vital Strata Management are offering Owners Corporations a free review of their current MAA’s and advice on how best to navigate through the complexities of changing strata managing agents.

Contact Vital Strata today!

Strata Made Simple.

The Launch of Vital Strata

We are excited to announce our new venture - Vital Strata Management. A boutique agency delivering smart and simple solutions through personalised service and expert advice.

There is a common perception in the strata Industry that Strata Management companies are the same.  In talking to many people it seems to be a case of - "its better the devil you know"

Vital Strata was launched with the view of providing real personalised service to clients.  Our aim is to work with owners on a personal level to achieve their property goals.