This question about expense allocation for the lighting in common areas has been answered by Tony Overell, The Knight.
Question: Quite a while back, our lighting in common areas was connected via a few individual lots. The residents of those lots pay for electricity use. Some lots are now tenanted. Is this arrangement enforceable?
Our Owners Corporation in Victoria doesn’t have any “common” power. When the complex was first established, an Owners Corporation resolution was passed to fix security/safety lighting to the exterior walls of four of the units. The lights would come on between dusk and dawn. Two of these lights have since been changed to sensor lights. The owners of these units agreed to the installation and subsequent charges to their electricity accounts. It was seen as a “community contribution”. The Owners Corporation has always maintained and replaced the lighting when necessary.
Over the passage of time, owners have come and gone and, at times, those units are now tenant occupied. This has resulted in less of a community attitude towards contributing to our lighting in common areas and, in some instances, the lights have been disengaged or the tenants are now demanding compensation.
The Owners Corporation has explored other alternatives to providing safety lighting, but have found all alternatives too costly. It has also been unable to determine a method of compensation to individual owners/tenants.
Can the Owners Corporation pass and enforce a special resolution (to be put into its by-laws) to the effect that the lights must be functional and not interfered with, however, the minimal running cost is the responsibility of the owner and/or tenant?
Answer: The Owners Corporation would not be able to enforce a rule, nor create one, that puts an obligation on an occupant of a Lot to pay for the running costs of a light that is benefiting the whole community.
The Owners Corporation would not be able to enforce a rule, nor create one, that puts an obligation on an occupant of a Lot to pay for the running costs of a light that is benefiting the whole community. All costs in running the Owners Corporation, including the lights, must be billed to all Lot owners based on Lot Liability (not tenants as your current situation).
On appearances the original owners of the units gave permission on their own behalf for the Owners Corporation to use their electricity to power the Common Lights, whether that was verbally or in writing is unknown, however, this does not oblige future owners and/or residents from doing the same.
Even though it may cost more in the short term it would be advisable for the Owners Corporation to fund rewiring of the existing lights to include them on their own power supply that is billed to the Owners Corporation, or maybe even think of other alternative such as solar powered lights which maybe not require as much new wiring and not have any cost burden on the occupant nor the Owners Corporation.
This post appears in Strata News #176.
What are the OH&S regulations regarding outdoor lighting in common areas?
I have an investment unit in Melbourne. I would like to know what the OH&S regulations are regarding outdoor lighting in common areas.
At present, our lighting is on for a regulated time all year 5pm – 7am. I think it should be adjusted for different seasons.
Are there regulated times this lighting should be on or are we able to adjust it according to season eg summer longer natural light winter shorter? I would like to be able to share this information with the other owners in my building.
There are no regulations as such on timings, but it is expected that electric lighting in common areas should be on when natural light levels drop. The 5pm – 7 am window covers the periods of darkness around the year. Otherwise, this can be done in two ways:
- Via a Daylight Sensor or Photoelectric (PE) cell either integrated into the light itself or by connecting lights centrally to an external sensor.
- Via a Programmable timer with pre-entered times for different seasons.
If you are looking to replace your existing wall or pole mounted fittings, many of the new LED light fittings have the options of an integrated PE cell. These allow the light to sense the level of natural daylight & switch on automatically once the light sensor detects light levels below the set point.
- VIC: Why Owners Corporation Rules Should Always Be Drafted By Legal Practitioners
- VIC: Q&A Running a Business in Residential Strata & the Impact on Insurance
This article is not intended to be personal advice and you should not rely on it as a substitute for any form of advice.