This article and Q&A about the new strata laws concerning installing air conditioning system in strata has been supplied and written by Allison Benson, Kerin Benson Lawyers.
Question: Although there is a bylaw clearing stating air conditioning systems can be installed, our committee states there is a precedence for the units not to placed on a common wall.
Our owners corporation has a by-law allowing us to install the internal unit of a split system to any common property boundary wall inside the unit.
Although this is clearly stated on the by-law, the strata committee are not allowing us to place the internal unit on a boundary wall that is shared with another unit. They are saying there is precedent in the block that units are placed on internal unit walls.
Do we have any rights to fight this?
Answer: The terms of the by-law are going to be crucial here.
The terms of the by-law are going to be crucial here so I recommend checking and double checking them not just to ensure that it permits the installation on any common property boundary wall but also to see if there is a clause in the by-law that says something along the lines of “the lot owner may install the internal unit in the place approved by the strata committee (acting reasonably)”.
Why? If the by-law does say specify “any common property boundary wall” or “common property wall” then it sounds like you have grounds to challenge the decision.
If the by-law contains a clause that the strata committee must approve the location and act reasonably then you also have grounds to challenge the by-law provided that you can provide evidence that the installation on that particular wall will not affect the neighbouring lot by noise or vibrations or interfere with any services. If the installation would do any of these things then your prospects of challenging the strata committee’s decision are much much lower.
This post appears in Strata News #322.
Installing Air conditioning Systems in Strata Since the Reforms
Although section 110 of the Strata Schemes Management Act 2015 provides for categories of “minor renovation” works and clause 28 of the Strata Schemes Management Regulations 2016 includes the installation of a reverse cycle split system air conditioner in the definition of minor renovation works, strata committees and owners corporations should be careful when considering applications to install air conditioning.
Why? For two reasons which are:
- Not all air conditioning systems will be reverse cycle split system air conditioning systems; and
- Even if the application is for a reverse cycle split system air conditioning system, the condenser unit or other components of these systems are often installed externally (usually on the balcony or external wall of the lot or near a car space or other utility area). Subsection 110(7)(c) of the Act has the effect that “work that changes the external appearance of a lot” does not fall into the definition of “minor renovation” works. If the condenser unit or other components of the air conditioning system are installed externally then it would generally change the external appearance of the lot and would not be minor renovation works.
What does this mean?
Owners corporations should carefully check applications for the installation of air conditioning systems and seriously consider passing a common property rights by-law (which requires a special resolution and the consent of the affected lot owners) permitting all lots to install air conditioning systems on defined conditions.
In this way, the owners corporation enables the installation of air conditioning systems, sets standard conditions for the work and eliminates the need for either multiple common property rights by-laws or multiple by-laws under section 108 authorising the alternation of the common property.
If you require any assistance with more information about installing air conditioning system strata please contact Kerin Benson Lawyers on (02) 8706 7060 or Email.
This post appears in Strata News #129.
Have a question or something to add about installing an air conditioning system in a strata complex? Leave a comment below.
- NSW: Q&A Strata Maintenance Responsibilities: Air Conditioning Unit
- NSW: Q&A How do we go about installing air conditioning in an apartment?
- NSW: What are the New Works By-laws?
Please note: This is not legal advice. You should seek legal advice particular to your situation.
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