These questions about gaining approval to renovate have been answered by Flavia Ger, Ace Body Corporate Management and Tony Johnson, Stratarama.
Jump directly to the QUESTION you are after:
- QUESTION: My duplex neighbour wants to change his driveway area. Can I prevent this or does he need my approval to carry out the changes?
- QUESTION: To gain permission to erect an external fixture on my apartment, does a General Meeting need to be convened?
- QUESTION: How do I gain approval to renovate my lot? I wish to update my garage and change the roof. The other lot owners do not agree with my proposed changes.
Question: My duplex neighbour wants to change his driveway area. Can I prevent this or does he need my approval to carry out the changes?
We are a two-unit strata. Our driveways are next to each other (Basically one wide, shared driveway) and our neighbour is proposing to rip his half of the pavers up and lay concrete instead.
What are my rights in preventing this? My understanding is that we would have to agree on this.
Answer: When there are only two units, all resolutions require both units to approve the works.
When a Strata Title only has two units, all resolutions require both units to approve the works.
If you are voting on a matter where an ordinary resolution is required and one votes in favour and one votes against the vote is hung and the motion fails, meaning nothing can change, or the motion requesting a change cannot proceed.
The Strata Titles Act states that if a special resolution is required and there are only two units, then both units must agree.
As a result, in your situation if you and the other owner do not agree to the change then the changes to the driveway cannot occur.
This post appears in Strata News #517.
Question: To gain permission to erect an external fixture on my apartment, does a General Meeting need to be convened?
I’d like to apply for permission to erect an external fixture on my apartment. Can unit owners be notified and vote on the proposed changes by email or letter from Strata Management or does a General Meeting need to be convened?
Answer: The Strata Titles Act 1988 states that erecting an external fixture on an apartment would require a special resolution.
In this time of coronavirus, there have certainly been a lot more people trying to utilise technology as best as they can to achieve speedy results that also comply with socially distancing.
The Strata Titles Act 1988 states that erecting an external fixture on an apartment would require a special resolution. Further, all special resolutions or unanimous resolutions can not be approved by a Committee and must be approved by a group. The only official way in which to pass a special resolution is by calling a meeting of all Members where the details of the fixture would be outlined in a resolution on the Agenda.
The Act defines a special resolution as being “a resolution as to which the following conditions are satisfied;
- at least 14 days’ written notice, setting out the terms of the proposed resolution and any other information of a kind prescribed by regulation, is given to the unit holders;
- in the case of a strata corporation in which there are only 3 units and the owner of each unit is entitled to 1 vote in respect of his or her unit—the resolution is passed at a properly convened meeting of the strata corporation at which either no vote, or only 1 vote, is cast against the resolution; or
- in any other case—the resolution is passed at a properly convened meeting of the strata corporation at which the number of votes (if any) cast against the resolution is 25% or less of the total number of votes that could be cast at a meeting at which all unit holders are present and entitled to vote;”
Below is the section referencing Alterations and additions:
29—Alterations and additions
- Subject to subsection (1a), a person must not carry out prescribed work in relation to a unit unless the person is authorised to do so—
- where all of the units comprised in the strata scheme consist of nonresidential premises—under the articles of the strata corporation; or
- in any case—by special resolution of the strata corporation.
Groups may look to alternative ways of having a conventional meeting during COVID in order to facilitate these meetings and resolve outstanding issues/ approvals.
Some groups may have chosen to pass a motion previously to allow future approvals of this nature to be approved by a ballot, though to ensure that the request put forward is not later disputed because of the manner in which the decision was reached, it would be safest to have a meeting correctly called and held per the details above.
It is worth noting, that a motion put forward to allow for all units to do the same works should they desire, may also be worth considering, rather than a one-off motion for one unit. This would enable others to proceed at a later date with the same works, without need to call another meeting. If the works that another unit wants to do varies, however (i.e the structure is a different shape, different materials, etc) then that would require a separate approval.
This post appears in Strata News #379.
Question: How do I gain approval to renovate my lot? I wish to update my garage and change the roof. The other lot owners do not agree with my proposed changes.
I own a property in a small group of 3 units. Our group is self managed. I am the only owner occupier in the group.
I’d like to do some renovations to my unit and I am having some difficulty understanding what my rights are within the strata. My unit in the last one in the group. It has a garaged attached to it which doesn’t share any access with the other units. The garage is in a poor state and has rotten and needs to be replaced. I have mentioned to my strata group that I would like to get the garage replaced and in doing so I would like to change the garage from a flat roof to a pitched roof.
The other members of the strata have said they are not in favour of a pitched roof even though I believe it will look better and they also argued that improving the garage would cost them more in insurance premiums. Is there an easy way to tell whether the garage is part of the strata group and is there any way I can make the change to my unit? I don’t think that these are unreasonable adjustments but I’m not sure what I can do.
Answer: Has your strata corporation made any specific resolutions on repairs and maintenance for areas that are for the exclusive use of a particular unit?
We understand self-managing a group can be a bit complex especially when issues arise, however, it is the responsibility of the corporation to maintain the common property as per the Strata Titles Act 1988.
It is also necessary to take a look at the strata plan to check the boundaries of lots and common property. Generally, common property is any land or space that is not within a unit. A unit may also include an area defined on the unit plan as a ‘unit subsidiary’, which is not common property but an area for the exclusive use of a particular unit. Unless the strata plan states otherwise, a wall or fence between a building that forms part of a unit and a unit subsidiary to that unit is part of the common property. Without checking the plans and resolutions I cannot confirm if the garage is a unit subsidiary or not.
Has your strata corporation made any specific resolutions on repairs and maintenance for areas that are for the exclusive use of a particular unit?
The Strata Titles Act section 27(6) also states that if the strata corporation carries out work that wholly or substantially benefits a particular unit or group of units, the corporation may pass on these costs to the unitholder. Hence, it would be good to check if any of the other units have similar issues, especially if they were all built at the same time.
I would recommend for the group to organise a builder to check all units to see if they need work or not. That way, all units are repaired at the same time. If the other owners do not wish to undertake repairs / replacement, to get the corporation to approve the work at your unit a general meeting should be convened so that the body corporate members can decide on what action to take. You can add a motion requesting repairs / replacement on the meeting agenda with details.
If you are proposing to replace the garage with new materials (not like for like) and change the appearance of the roof, this will be deemed as a special resolution / motion. Special resolutions must be proposed by at least 14 days written notice to all unit owners (by calling a general meeting). You will have to provide details of the proposed works, including specifications, how this work will be funded (Strata cost or part-payment by owner?) and ideally, a report from a builder, particularly if structural works are proposed.
A special resolution is required to: authorise changes to the external appearance of a building by a unit owner – section 29(1)(b)].
A special resolution is achieved if the resolution is passed at a properly convened meeting of the strata corporation and the number of votes (if any) cast against the resolution is 25% or less of the total number of votes that could be cast at a meeting at which all unit owners are present and entitled to vote – section 3(1)(a)]. You are within your rights to request for alterations or additions to the external appearance, however, the corporation can choose to approve or refuse this. If you are not happy with the decisions made by the corporation, you will need to make an application to the Magistrates court.
Regarding Insurance, you can check your current building cover to see if there is a provision that includes lots owner’s fixtures and improvements. Most strata insurances have this element included in their policy. Talk to your insurance broker about this. It will be handy to gather this information to submit to the agenda. If the cost for the upgrades is more than what the standard insurance cover provides for owners fixtures and improvements, your corporation can make a decision on how this will be paid.
We hope that this information has been helpful.
This post appears in Strata News #227.
Have a question or something to add to the article? Leave a comment below.
These articles are not intended to be personal advice and you should not rely on it as a substitute for any form of advice.
- SA: Renovations Causing Apartment Noise and it’s Driving Me Crazy
- SA: Q&A Changing Strata ByLaws: How do we go about this?
Looking for strata information concerning your state? For state-specific strata information, take a look here.