This Q&A from a WA Lot Owner is about Council of Owner spending limits for items not in the budget.
Table of Contents:
- QUESTION: Does an installed security camera change the external appearance of the lot? If so, is Council of Owners approval required?
- QUESTION: Does the Council of Owners have a spending limit for items not in the budget? In this case, specifically for common area security eg CCTV cameras.
Question: Does an installed security camera change the external appearance of the lot? If so, is Council of Owners approval required?
I am in a 6 lot strata and one owner has installed a security camera, visible from the common area driveway and filming all people/traffic going up and down the common area driveway.
I think this changes the external appearance of the lot and requires an application to the Council of Owners for their approval. Is this correct?
Answer: The installation of a camera does not constitute a structural alteration, therefore would not require the same approval process as it would if it was structural.
The installation of a camera does not constitute a structural alteration, therefore would not require the same approval process as it would if it was structural.
The Standard Conduct by-law 14 (Appearance of lot) states “An owner or occupier of a lot must not, without the written consent of the strata company, maintain within the lot anything visible from outside the lot that, viewed from outside the lot, is not in keeping with the rest of the building”.
It is very likely that the camera installation you reference would constitute a breach of this by-law. It would be important to check the specific by-laws relating to your lot to ensure that this by-law is applicable.
For me perhaps of greater concern is the potential breach under The Privacy Act 1988 and surveillance Devices Act 1998. The advice often given to Strata Companies when installing CCTV is to ensure that the cameras DO NOT capture any parts of the lots and only record common property. The situation you describe is the reverse of this and if the lot owner does not have the Strata Company’s approval to film common property then it is highly likely a breach exists.
The use of CCTV in Strata Complexes by Strata Companies and lot owners alike is becoming increasingly common. I recommend that All Strata Companies and their lot owners work together on developing strong CCTV by-laws and policies to protect all involved. It is important that such by-laws and policies ensure that the right to peoples privacy is protected and the use, access and purpose of CCTV footage is controlled.
If considering the implementation of CCTV by-laws I would suggest engaging a strata lawyer to assist with this.
This post appears in the December 2020 edition of The WA Strata Magazine.
Question: Does the Council of Owners have a spending limit for items not in the budget? In this case, specifically for common area security eg CCTV cameras.
Is there an upper expenditure limit which the Council of Owners can authorise if the purchased item is not budgeted? Specifically, installation of CCTV cameras and associated hardware on common areas for security.
Can this expenditure be authorised by COO without gaining the approval of all or a majority of the 80 owners?
Answer: With the new legislation that came into effect 1 May 2020, limits have been set on unauthorised budgeted expenditure and limits have been set on expenditure associated with improving common property.
There are two issues here, one dealing with unauthorised budgeted expenditure with the general management of common property, the other dealing with improvements to common property.
Under the reforms to the strata Titles Act 1985 as amended 2018 and the subsequent Regulations 2019 which all came into effect 1 May 2020, limits have been set on unauthorised budgeted expenditure and limits have been set on expenditure associated with improving common property.
- The limit for unauthorised budgeted expenditure is $500.00 per lot per financial year.
- The limit for expenditure on improving common property is $500.00 per lot.
The question relates to the installation of CCTV and associated hardware on common property. In my opinion under the reforms, this is an improvement or addition to common property. As such the $500.00 per lot regulation applies but in addition to that the council of owners would under the reforms require a “Special Resolution”. They would also need to provide to the strata company full details of the work, timeframe for completion, costings involved, drawings, location and quotes or tenders for the required work.
What is Required For a Special Resolution?
A special resolution is whereby 50% or more of owners and 50% or more of their unit entitlements agree, but no greater than 25% of owners and 25% of their respective unit entitlements disagree.
This post appears in Strata News #353
Have a question about Council of Owners spending limits or something to add to the article? Leave a comment below.
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