NSW Lot Owners are concerned about overcrowding and whether there is a legal number of occupants in NSW apartment buildings. Leanne Habib, Premium Strata and Pierrette Khoury, Khoury Lawyers provide the following responses.
Question: Many rented lots in our building have converted an open plan study into an extra bedroom without approval causing overcrowding. Can we insist these apartments be re-instated to their original configurations?
We are lot owners in a 2 year old NSW strata plan building with 80 apartments. There is a mix of configurations:
- 1 bedroom,
- 1 bedroom with open plan study,
- 2 bedroom and
- 2 bedroom with open plan study.
Without notifying the Strata Managers, a fairly large proportion of the 1 and 2 bedroom apartments with the open plan studies have been modified. The open plan study has been converted into an additional bedroom!
Local council were notified and confirmed of this breach to planning guidelines eg car parking etc.
We are concerned about this overcrowding issue. Also, due to the additional number of people occupying the “illegal” additional bedrooms, there has been noticeable wear and tear to common property eg elevators and bbq area.
Can our Strata Managers insist these apartments be re-instated to their original configurations? The modifications are non-structural, with a gyprock wall and simple standard doorway installed.
Answer: The strata manager can seek to notify the owners there has been a breach of the bylaws.
The strata manager can seek to notify the owners there has been a breach of the bylaws and section 110 of the Strata Schemes Management Act.
Note: Section 132 enables rectification orders to be made against owners of lots for damage caused by work done by owners.
The strata managers can then seek to lodge an application in the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal seeking an order that the works undertaken be removed as they were carried out without authorisation and approval by the Owners Corporation.
The owner was also required to notify the owners corporation of alteration to a lot structure pursuant to section 152 of the Strata Schemes Management Act 2015.
This post appears in Strata News #293.
Question: How many occupants can an NSW apartment have eg. could a unit with 2 bedrooms have any number of occupants or is there a legal limit?
Question: If an apartment is tenanted, how many occupants are allowed in a 2 bedroom unit? I suspect overcrowding in the apartment next door to ours.
Answer: You would need a by-law which stipulates occupancy limits.
Subject to anything contained in the development approval for the building, you would need a by-law which stipulates occupancy limits and that by-law cannot limit a bedroom to accommodate less than 2 x adults per bedroom.
None of this applies if the occupants are related to one another. The regulation specifies who is to be considered a relation for these purposes.
This post appears in Strata News #230.
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These articles are not intended to be personal advice and you should not rely on it as a substitute for any form of advice.
The City of Sydney has an Unauthorised Accommodation Investigation Team which was established in March 2015. The team works with NSW Police, Fire and Rescue NSW, NSW Fair Trading, the Australian Taxation Office and other relevant agencies to overcome overcrowding and accommodation that is unsafe for occupants and surrounding neighbours. If you have concerns about overcrowding, reports can be made anonymously to this team. For more information, visit the Unauthorised accommodation page on the City of Sydney website.