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By-laws in a strata scheme 

Strata schemes are effectively small communities where the activities and attitudes of residents can have a significant impact on the satisfaction and enjoyment of others. Therefore, it is important to be aware of your responsibilities and obligations when you own or live in a strata unit.

Each strata scheme has its own by-laws, which are a set of rules that govern such things as the behaviour of residents and the use of common property. The by-laws apply to all owners and residents of a strata scheme.

The by-laws can vary significantly from scheme to scheme and it is important to understand which by-laws apply to your scheme. A copy of your scheme's by-laws is kept on the strata roll and is available from either the secretary of the owners corporation or from your managing agent (if your scheme has one).

There is also a set of 'model by-laws' included in the Strata Schemes Management Regulation 2010. While these model by-laws may not apply to your scheme, many schemes registered after 1997 have adopted them. The model by-laws are a useful reference source, particularly for schemes wishing to review their current by-laws.

View or download a copy of the model by-laws in the Strata Schemes Management Regulation 2010 from the NSW Legislation website. 

Exclusive use by-laws

Exclusive use by-laws allow a lot owner to use part of the common property and can be subject to terms and conditions. Any exclusive use by-law must be disclosed to purchasers by vendors and a copy of the exclusive use by-law must be attached to the contract of sale.

What by-laws are in place at your scheme?

Strata owners can inspect the owners corporation's records to confirm what by-laws are in place.

Potential owners can get a copy of the by-laws by obtaining a section 109 certificate, which is required to finalise financial matters concerning the sale of a strata property. 

Landlords must give their tenants a copy of the current by-laws within 7 days of the tenancy agreement being signed.

Obligation to comply with by-laws

All owners and occupiers in a strata scheme, including tenants, are legally obliged to comply with the by-laws of the scheme.

How to deal with by-law breaches

If an owner or resident breaches a by-law, firstly, talk about the problem with them. If it continues, the owners corporation or managing agent (if their agency agreement gives them the authority) can serve a 'Notice to Comply with a By-Law' on the person who is breaching it.

If the person continues to breach the by-law the owners corporation may apply to the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal (NCAT) for a penalty of up to $550 to be issued.

How to change by-laws

The owners corporation can change existing by-laws or create new ones for the better enjoyment or management of the strata scheme. To do this, a special resolution is needed, which means no more than 25 per cent of votes are cast against the motion at a general meeting of the owners corporation.

Notification of any new or changed by-law must be given to the Registrar General's Office. This can be done by lodging a 'Change of By-Laws' form, which is available from the Land and Property Information website at www.lpi.nsw.gov.au

A by-law has no force or effect if it is inconsistent with the Strata Schemes Management Act 1996, or any other laws.

Other important responsibilities of strata residents

Apart from complying with the by-laws, there are other obligations for strata residents under the Strata Schemes Management Act 1996.

Residents must not use or enjoy:

  • their lot in such a way as to cause a nuisance or hazard to another resident, for example by being excessively noisy
  • the common property in such a way as to interfere unreasonably with another resident's use and enjoyment of the common property or their lot.

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