This Q&A is about access to WA strata apartment buildings, including how much notice should be given for common property works.
Table of Contents:
- QUESTION: A common property bulk storage area in our apartment building has recently been turned into a “Men’s Shed” without a vote at an AGM. Does a decision like this require a vote without dissent at an AGM?
- QUESTION: For the past two years I’ve been paying a quarterly fee to use a car stacker which I do not hold an access key for despite repeated requests. How do I resolve this?
- QUESTION: One lot’s balcony houses the electricity meters for the building. They want to fully enclose this area. What is the position on this for both the owner and for future access to the electricity meters?
- QUESTION: A non-resident owner allows her boyfriend to park in our limited visitor parking. Are they in breach of the bylaws?
- QUESTION: Is your strata manager required to notify you of common property works such as resurfacing the driveway? If so, how much notice should they give to residents?
- QUESTION: If a person living in strata needs an ambulance and calls 000, how do the paramedics gain entry into the apartment complex if the person is immobile?
- QUESTION: Coming home to find my garage wide open, I discover one of the lot owners has a universal remote. How can one lot owner have access to another lot owner’s strata apartment in the building?
- QUESTION: I have access problems with my next door neighbour. I was told there was a bylaw granting me access to a rear gate. How do we resolve this?
Question: A common property bulk storage area in our apartment building has recently been turned into a “Men’s Shed” without a vote at an AGM. Does a decision like this require a vote without dissent at an AGM? Also, the area is now only accessible to those that buy a key to the space.
Answer: The elected Council of the Strata Company has the authority to control and manage the common property for the benefit of all the owners of lots.
Overarchingly, the elected Council of the Strata Company has the authority to control and manage the common property for the benefit of all the owners of lots. Further, a strata company may improve or alter the common property in a manner that goes beyond what is required under subsection 91(1).
Schedule 1 4(1) The powers and duties of the strata company must, subject to any restriction imposed or direction given at a general meeting, be exercised and performed by the council of the strata company and a meeting of the council at which a quorum is present is competent to exercise all or any of the authorities, functions or powers of the council.
If a storeroom area forming part of common property was lying dormant, perhaps the Council felt transforming it into a Men’s Shed was in fact an improvement, to build a greater sense of community within the scheme.
The question may revolve more around transparency, rather than authority. Would it have been prudent to present this to all owners at a general meeting, or as a circular motion, as an ordinary resolution – yes. Then, any costs incurred, insurance risk potential, and terms of access could have been addressed with all owners, prior to the conversion.
You are able to request a motion on notice be included for your next general meeting on this matter. Be sure you provide it to your Secretary well ahead of time, and, that the motion be worded in such manner as to request a vote in the affirmative.
This post appears in Strata News #589.
Question: For the past two years I’ve been paying a quarterly fee to use a car stacker which I do not hold an access key for despite repeated requests. How do I resolve this?
I purchased an apartment in Perth a year ago. I’m paying a quarterly fee of $87 to use a car stacker which I do not hold an access key for.
Our carpark is very limited and often full, leaving me to park on the street out the front of the apartment. This puts my car at risk of vandalism which is a common occurrence in our area.
I have emailed the strata company on a few occasions to request a fob key to access my bay within the car stacker but have been given various stories as to why they are unable to provide it – eg, the neighbour has the fob and took it overseas, even though his partner is still living next door.
I’m frustrated I have to park my car on the road in an unsecure place when I am paying a quarterly fee to have access to a secure bay, despite repeated attempts to get the strata company to provide me with the key.
Answer: You may wish to request a full refund of the quarterly fee for this entire time due to lack of access being provided by the Strata Company.
It is difficult to ascertain from the details as to how the car stacker is utilised at the site.
If you are paying a fee for the use of the car stacker, it would appear you certainly are allocated the use of the car stacker. You may want to follow up with the Strata Managers and request they submit your communications to the Council of Owners. In your communications to the Council of Owners you may wish to express your frustration with trying to obtain access and details on how the car stacker works and why you haven’t been able to obtain access to the car stacker. You may wish to request a full refund of the quarterly fee for this entire time due to lack of access being provided by the Strata Company.
There would be bylaws that provide the detail on who has access to the car stacker, and the payments to be made for it etc. You may wish to ask the Strata Managers to provide these details to you.
If you are entitled to the use of the car stacker, and you appear to be as you are being charged for it, then you will need to be direct with the Strata Managers to obtain it.
This post appears in Strata News #579.
Question: One lot’s balcony houses the electricity meters for the building. They want to fully enclose this area. What is the position on this for both the owner and for future access to the electricity meters?
Some time ago, owners on the ground floor of our building enclosed their balconies under restricted access. The balconies are titled.
One unit’s balcony houses the electricity meters for all units. This balcony was part enclosed. The lot owner is selling and wants to fully enclose their balcony area, restricting access to the electricity meters.
What is the position on this for both the owner and for access to the electricity meters?
Answer: The lot owner is required to provide access to the common meter for a variety of valid reasons.
Placing utility meters within the boundaries of one particular lot, when they service multiple or all lots, is extremely impractical, but it does happen.
Not having access to the plans and bylaws to make a clearer determination, we can only provide general advice.
Under Section 63 of the Strata Titles Act 1985, there is an implied Utility Service Easement
Utility Service Easement
- An easement (a utility service easement) exists for the benefit and burden of each lot and the common property in a strata titles scheme to the extent reasonably required for the provision of utility services to each lot and the common property.
- A utility service easement entitles the strata company, and the owner of a lot, in the strata titles scheme –
- to install and remove utility conduits; and
- to examine, maintain, repair, modify then replace utility conduits.
- An owner or occupier of a lot must not, either within or outside the lot, interfere or permit interference with utility conduits or a utility service provided by means of utility conduits in a way that may prejudice the use or enjoyment of another lot or the common property in the strata titles scheme, other than in the reasonable exercise of rights under a utility service easement.
The lot owner is therefore required to provide access to the common meter for a variety of valid reasons, including having the meter read by a contractor engaged by the Strata Company, the electricity service provider or in the event of an emergency.
If it has been indicated that the electricity meter is to be enclosed, it may be that this is not possible in accordance with advice from Western Power or your local Council. Approval to have the utility service moved to a more suitable location could be cost-prohibitive and would require a resolution without dissent at a general meeting of the Strata Company.
This post appears in Strata News #573.
Question: A non-resident owner allows her boyfriend to park in our limited visitor parking. Are they in breach of the bylaws?
We have a limited visitors parking area which can only take two cars at any time in our small strata complex of three townhouses. Two of our townhouses are owner occupied and the third is rented.
Although the owner of the rented townhouse does not live in the complex, her boyfriend has parked in our visitor parking area 24/7 for a month, and therefore is preventing the other owners from using this space.
Are non-residents entitled to use our visitors parking?
Answer: It would appear the owner of the lot may be in breach of the bylaws
I would offer the following comments, with the usual disclaimer that this is a comment only as we have not been provided with any documents in relation to this particular property. The reader may wish to seek further or legal advice.
STRATA TITLES ACT 1985 – SCHEDULE 2
1 . Vehicles and parking
- An owner or occupier of a lot must take all reasonable steps to ensure that the owner’s or occupier’s visitors comply with the scheme by-laws relating to the parking of motor vehicles.
- An owner or occupier of a lot must not park or stand any motor or other vehicle on common property except with the written approval of the strata company.
[By-law 1 inserted: No. 30 of 2018 s. 99.]
2 . Use of common property
An owner or occupier of a lot must —
- use and enjoy the common property in such a manner as not unreasonably to interfere with the use and enjoyment of the common property by other owners or occupiers of lots or of their visitors; and
- not use the lot or permit it to be used in such manner or for such purpose as causes a nuisance to an occupier of another lot (whether an owner or not) or the family of such an occupier; and
- take all reasonable steps to ensure that the owner’s or occupier’s visitors do not behave in a manner likely to interfere with the peaceful enjoyment of an owner or occupier of another lot or of a person lawfully using common property; and
- not obstruct lawful use of common property by any person.
[By-law 2 inserted: No. 30 of 2018 s. 100.]
The use of visitor’s bays is very broad unless the Strata Company has registered bylaws that could provide for the specific use of the bays such as time limits, visitors to the occupiers of the property only, types of vehicles and the penalty for non compliance.
Are they entitled to use the visitor parking? In accordance with Schedule 2 Bylaw 1, as this person is not the owner or the occupier of a lot then they have no right to the use of the visitor parking bays. It would appear that the owner of that lot may be in breach of the bylaws however that is dependant on whether they provided permission for this vehicle to park there and use it for long term use.
The first approach should be to the owner of this unit advising that you are aware the owner of the vehicle does not live on the site and is utilising the visitor parking bay for long term parking. You would request they arrange for the vehicle to be removed from the site and you may wish to provide a time limit for this to happen.
Should you not be able to resolve this with this owner, the remaining 2 owners may have to convene a General Meeting to determine whether you proceed with the issuing of a formal breach notice/s, and progressing to SAT to resolve the matter. Section 47 provides the details for the enforcement of the scheme bylaws.
This post appears in the November 2021 edition of The WA Strata Magazine.
Question: Is your strata manager required to notify you of common property works such as resurfacing the driveway? If so, how much notice should they give residents?
Our block of units has a shared common driveway that is being resurfaced for an unspecified time frame. We were not given any notice or information of any kind by either our strata manager or our landlord until the day and time of work.
Is your strata manager required to notify you of common property works? If so, how much notice should they give residents?
Answer: The Strata Titles Act advises “reasonable” notice
This question is a frequent query, and the Strata Titles Act advises “reasonable” notice. There is no definition of “Reasonable” within the Act.
Property Managers, under the Residential Tenancies Act, are required to give 72 hours written notice for ‘necessary maintenance and repairs’ – note, this is for access to the property, although most property managers would aim to give their tenants at least 7 days’ notice. Many Strata Companies send notices of works to the owners and property managers, but the actual residents are not unaware of the notification.
With section 105 of The Strata Titles Act, the roll should also include the tenant details, which if updated, could ensure the resident is also made aware of such works. Strata Managers usually send notices to the Owners and their property managers for works planned. Some Strata Managers also send to the tenants if their details are on the roll database.
The amount of notice that is given could be different depending on the works that are being carried out and the disruption that may be caused to residents i.e. If contractors are on site but there will be little to no disruption, the amount of notice that is ‘reasonable’ would be less than notice for works that are going to impact the residents. Sometimes, in emergencies, notice is short, but if the works have been planned, it would be best practice to give as much notice as possible.
In the example provided in the question, the Strata Company might have FIFO workers, and their vehicles could be in the parking bays or driveway for 2-3 weeks at a time. In such circumstances, it is likely that the works have been planned, probably since the last general meeting and budget approval.
Therefore, best practice would be for such large works for the Strata Company to provide over three to four weeks’ notice, with a formal letter, then weekly reminders and a final letterbox drop the week of the works. That way residents would be given every opportunity to be informed of the driveway works.
This post appears in Strata News #476.
Question: If a person living in strata needs an ambulance and calls 000, how do the paramedics gain entry into the apartment complex if the person is immobile?
In the event of an 000 call from a person living on their own in strata, and needing an ambulance, how do the paramedics gain entry into the apartment complex if that person is immobile and unable to let them in?
Does St John Ambulance have a similar app like DFES (I think it’s called IRIS) that can somehow give access into the building? Security is great except in emergencies.
Answer: Ambulance officers are highly skilled in medical emergencies but gaining access into a locked unit is generally beyond their scope of expertise.
Ambulance officers are highly skilled in medical emergencies but gaining access into a locked unit is generally beyond their scope of expertise. This situation is far more common than you think and
during my time as a firefighter in Western Australia, a call out of this nature could be as common as once or twice per week.
In Western Australia, firefighters are empowered by the WA Fire Brigades Act 1942 which give authorised officers permission to make forced entry into a public or private property if they believe human life is threatened due to fire, hazardous materials or a medical emergency.
Fire appliances are fitted with modern equipment specifically designed for gaining access to buildings in such cases, leaving the ambulance officers free to deal with the patients’ needs. On multiple occasions, my crew and I were called out to force entry into units because of a medical emergency and when the occupant had to be taken to hospital, we stayed behind and assisted with securing the premises by getting in contact with the next of kin, Strata Manager or Building Supervisor to carry out the required work so the unit is not left unsecured. Having these after hours numbers available in either your unit or in a building common area can save a lot of time as emergencies do happen 24 hours a day not just during office hours.
This post appears in Strata News #370.
Question: Coming home to find my garage wide open, I discover one of the lot owners has a universal remote. How can one lot owner have access to another lot owner’s strata apartment in the building?
I am an owner occupier of one of 7 units in my scheme. My unit has a garage with its own access.
On returning home from work one day, my garage door was wide open. I have items stored in the garage.
I have discovered 1 lot owner holds a universal remote and he had been checking to see if the remote was working.
It concerns me greatly that owners were not made aware of the universal device. I have been an owner for 4 years and part of the council previously.
Shouldn’t these types of devices be held by Strata Management rather than an individual owner? How does a strata scheme function when one lot owner has adversely impacted the security of the other lots? How can one lot owner have access to another lot owner’s strata apartment in the building?
Answer: This depends on whether the garage is considered part of the owners lot or common property.
Please note: this response was provided prior to the proclamation of the new strata title amendments.
This all depends on whether the garage is considered part of the owners lot or common property.
If it is part of the owners lot; put simply no owner or strata manager should have an access device for this. Unless there is a specific by-law in place.
The owner should confirm it is their lot and there is no by-law in place. Then raise their concerns and express the issue of security and safety to their strata council care of the strata manager.
This post appears in Strata News #240.
Question: I have access problems with my next door neighbour. I was told there was a bylaw granting me access to a rear gate. How do we resolve this?
I live in a unit within a 4 unit strata complex in WA. When I purchased the unit, I was told there was a bylaw gaining me access from my property through the next door unit’s back area via a gate in the dividing fence between the said units for lawn mowing, mulching etc.
This has never been a problem in the past, however, of late this has become unacceptable to the tenant. The gate has been blocked by ropes, timber and stones.
We have contacted the owner of the next door unit who agrees access should not be restricted in any way. For emergencies, this lack of access is totally against the agreement I accepted on the purchase of the unit. I understand that tenants are entitled to privacy, however, should a fire or relevant disaster occurs in our property we have no accessible egress from the rear of our unit.
We have always notified tenants of the need to access through the adjoining gate, with no objections whatsoever. Lately, access is never convenient.
I contacted my Strata Manager and was notified the tenant had put in a complaint of harassment. Should I have the need to access her property in the future, I need to give 5 days notice to my Strata manager and they will negotiate a convenient time.
I did what was requested and notified in advance. I have notified my Strata manager in writing of my concerns regarding the blocked access and my objection to being filmed while doing what I require to do during the gate being opened.
My question is, what are my rights and how should I approach this matter?
Answer: Your strata manager your strata manager is 100% correct that 5 days notice is sufficient.
After reviewing the bylaws, there seems to be no specific by-law relating to access to the lot.
Therefore, your strata manager is 100% correct that 5 days notice is sufficient.
My suggestion would be to knock on the neighbour’s door with a bottle of red and become friends… Easier said than done but you will have peace of mind, either way, it goes down.
Unfortunately, when people buy strata titled properties, there may be misunderstandings about what real estate agents refer to.
This post appears in Strata News #237.
Have a question about emergency access into a strata apartment building or something to add to the article? Leave a comment below.
- SA: Q&A Apartment Building Evacuation Plans & Emergency Access
- WA: Q&A Apartment Building Fire Safety Regulations
These articles are not intended to be personal advice and you should not rely on it as a substitute for any form of advice.
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