This Q&A about changing the appearance of the lot has been answered by Frank Higginson, Hynes Legal.
Question: What permission is required to carry out a renovation of our unit? The renovation will be extensive and we will be changing the appearance of the lot.
I have a question regarding what permission required to carry out an extensive renovation of our unit on a group title of 6 units where we own the land where we will extend the unit.
The renovation consists of adding a bathroom and carport down one side extending 2m wide, extending the front to our boundary 1.6m with a new verandah, and therefore changing the appearance of the lot. The cost is approx $40k. Although this will change the look of the front of the unit, we have had an architect draw up the plans to be sure the design is keeping with the appearance of the exterior of the building and of other existing units.
There is a common property grassed area between the extension and the villa next door.
Do we have to get a resolution by dissent or can the committee simply approve our request? We have one agitator in the group and I feel this may cause an issue regarding the decision.
Answer: The starting point for us with this is whose land the works will be constructed on.
The starting point for us with this is whose land the works will be constructed on? Is it on the title to the property, or is it common property? If it is common property, is there a grant of exclusive use for it? If not, that will need to be part of the program.
After that, it then depends on the by-laws in terms of what has to happen, but my bet would be the by-laws would (or at least should) provide for an application to be made to the committee for the works. Subject to the amount spent on them and who the land is actually owned by, that might need approval at a general meeting as well.
So there could be a bit more to do for this one before the green light appears. I think the safest thing to do will be to engage with the committee and ask nicely.
This post appears in Strata News #212
Question: The Secretary of our Body Corporate Committee has applied for body corporate approval to install shutters after receiving a ‘No’ a few years ago. Is this right?
About three years ago an owner sought permission to changing the appearance of the lot by installing shutters on the whole length of the inside of the glass balustrade on her balcony. This was taken to an EGM and voted against almost unanimously with a resounding NO as it detracted from the architect’s vision and integrity of the building and because of where they will be placed the wind is a real concern.
The person is now the Secretary of our Body Corporate Committee. Now she is on the committee, she applied for body corporate approval again and they voted yes she can do this. Of the four people that voted yes for the Secretary to install the shutters only one was an owner at the time of the EGM. The others are all new members who have joined since her last application to Change the appearance of her lot.
Where do we stand when it has already been voted on at an EGM with an all most unanimous NO? Unfortunately, the committee is stacked and does not have the interest of the building as a whole in its sights.
Answer: If an owner puts up a motion and is unsuccessful, there is nothing preventing them from putting it up again in the future.
There are a couple of topics that pop up here.
Firstly, if an owner puts up a motion and is unsuccessful, there is nothing preventing them from putting it up again in the future.
While a general meeting decision will ordinarily override a committee one, the new application for approval was made 3 years later and, provided the shutters are installed on her lot, it sounds like something the committee is empowered to decide under the by-laws.
If owners do not like the committee’s decision and want to challenge it, they can. However, they’ll need to be able to show that the legislation was not followed or that the decision was unreasonable.
Secondly, it isn’t clear from the query whether the secretary voted on her own motion. If she did, she shouldn’t have because of the conflict of interest provisions of the modules (section 53 of both the Standard and Accommodation Modules). However, if her vote is excluded and the numbers are such that the motion still would have passed, there would be little utility in challenging the motion on that basis.
The fact that lot ownership or committee composition has changed over time does not alter our view. An owner seeking body corporate approval for something will often put their request forward again in those circumstances.
This post appears in Strata News #167.
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