If you’re renting in a strata building, it is important to know the rules of the property. These differ from place to place but must be adhered to.
It is always exciting to move into a new apartment or unit and make it your own. Hopefully, you will have great neighbours who you barely notice when they’re at home.
And hopefully, your neighbours will feel the same about you.
Living in a strata property should be a positive experience. To help ensure this, strata properties have the right to introduce their own set of Rules (ACT), also known as By-Laws (NSW).
What are strata Rules / By-Laws
The owner of every unit in an apartment block is automatically part of the owners corporation. As a group, they are responsible for keeping the premises safe and well-maintained. They organise to pay for insurance and engage a strata manager to oversee the running of the building.
The owners corporation is also responsible for enforcing the Rules / By-Laws. These are defined as ‘a set of rules that owners, tenants and, in some cases, visitors must follow’. Rules / By-Laws cover the behaviour of residents and the use of common property and are legally binding. These rules will be different between complexes and are introduced so everyone can live harmoniously in the community.
Rules / By-Laws are likely to cover:
- Where people can smoke (more often than not, smoking is not allowed on balconies or common property
- Noise levels after a certain time of night
- Where laundry can be hung (e.g. not over balcony railings)
- The restriction of the use of visitor parking
- The use of loud vehicles like motorbikes
- Renovating or changing your unit
- Children playing unsupervised
When you move into a property as a tenant, the owner or property manager must supply you with the Rules / By-Laws. It is also likely you will sign a contract saying you agree to adhere to them.
Some Rules / By-Laws may be frustrating (particularly the one about not using visitor parking if there isn’t a lot of street parking available). It can be equally annoying to have no say in Rules / By-Laws because you are a tenant.
However, it is important to obey the rules laid out by the owners corporation if you want to live in the property for the long term.
What happens if you break Rules / By-Laws
While it is up to the owners corporation to set the community’s Rules / By-Laws, it’s worth noting these laws can’t contravene existing legislation. The Rules / By-Laws should be reasonable and they shouldn’t prevent you from living comfortably in your rented home.
If you break a Rule / By-Law as a tenant and another resident objects to your behaviour, in an ideal world they will have a friendly chat to you about it first. From there, they may direct their complaint to their own property manager or to the strata manager. What usually happens next is you will hear from your landlord/property manager with either a verbal or a written notice to comply with a Rule / By-Law.
Before issuing a written breach notice to someone who has broken a Rule / By-Law, the executive committee must collectively agree to do so.
If there is a dispute over whether or not a rule has been broken, you may end up at the Tribunal. Going down this road is a risk as you could end up having to pay a fine plus thousands in legal fees. And while you may not be instantly evicted, as soon as your lease expires your landlord will have the right to ask you to move out.
Generally speaking, Rules / By-Laws are reasonable and adhere to the ‘do as you would be done by’ principle of life. They are in place to save people from losing sleep because of noise or being affected by bad smells. Rules / By-Laws also help create a safe environment for all residents.
If you’re not aware of your Rules / By-Laws, contact your landlord or property manager. If you believe a neighbour is breaking them, have a chat or reach out to a responsible party for support.