Renting in a Strata Building: what you need to know

Renting in a Strata Development is quite a different experience to renting a Torrens Title home. There are By-Laws or rules that manage and control the use of common areas and resident behaviour. As a tenant, it’s crucial to understand how a Strata Plan operates and whether it is the right fit for your lifestyle., as well as any consequences of not adhering to By-Laws. 

If you’re a renting in a Strata Building, here’s what you need to know about your rights, responsibilities and limitations. 

What is Strata?

Strata is the most common way of dividing a parcel of land to create individual titles called ‘Lots’ and common areas that are jointly owned by all owners, collectively known as the Owners Corporation. 

Who is responsible for what? 

As a tenant, you have the occupancy of a Lot, with basic responsibilities such as taking good care of the property, paying rent on time as well as legal obligations to adhere to the terms of your tenancy lease agreement and the Strata by-laws, which form part of your lease agreement. 

Similar to a standard tenancy agreement, your Landlord or Property Manager will look after the repairs and maintenance for everything in your apartment, including:

  • Carpet and Blinds
  • Appliances
  • Internal paintwork
  • Light fittings and Powerpoints
  • Plumbing fittings and fixtures 

Your Landlord will also pay mandatory Strata levies to cover the costs for maintenance and repairs of shared areas, known as common property. This may also include the upkeep of common facilities such as pools, gyms, lifts and the like. 

The Strata Committee and Owners Corporation are responsible for:

  • Repairs and maintenance of the building’s exterior and shared spaces
  • Building-wide electricity or plumbing issues

If you notice any issues in the building, your first port of call should always be your Property Manager or Landlord. You may contact the Strata Manager, Strata Committee or Owners Corporation directly in an emergency, but you should always make your Property Manager or Landlord aware of the issue in the first instance and let them handle it.  

Strata By-Laws

All building residents, including tenants, must adhere to a set of By-Laws created when the Strata Plan is first registered and then amended from time as required by the Owners Corporation. By-Laws are used to regulate things like noise levels, parking, smoking and more. Understanding the By-Laws is very important. If you don’t comply with the By-Laws, you could potentially be in breach of your tenancy agreement and the Owners Corporation can also take action against you directly if circumstances warrant, which may include pecuniary penalties for ongoing By-Law breaches. 

Tenants at Meetings

While it’s usually uncommon, tenants have the right to attend Owners Corporation and Strata Committee meetings.  If tenants occupy 50% or more of the Lots in the building, they have a right to elect a Tenant Representative to attend General Meetings and become a non-voting member of the Strata Committee. 

The landlord must inform the Secretary/Strata Manager of the executed lease and to add you to the Strata Roll within 14 days of signing the lease. This will allow you to receive notices about upcoming  meetings.  

Limitations of tenants 

Tenants, like all occupants of a Strata Building, are limited by the rules set out in the By-Laws. 

Include things such as parking in allocated spaces, smoking in designated places etc.

Similar to a standard tenancy agreement, tenants in Strata Buildings need written approval from the Landlord before making any renovations or cosmetic changes to the Lot. If any repairs need to be undertaken, you will need to get in touch with your Property Manager or Landlord as these works may either be the Landlord or Owners Corporations responsibility.

As a tenant, you have the right to attend Owners Corporation meetings, however you can’t speak or vote on issues unless you’ve been authorised to do so. The Owners Corporation can exclude you if financial matters are being discussed. If you’ve elected a Tenant Representative, they can speak at Strata Committee Meetings, however they will still not be able to vote on matters. 

Keeping pets

There have been recent changes to the legislation regarding pet ownership in Strata Buildings. Previously, the Owners Corporation could make a by-law banning pets on the property. On the 12th October 2020, the NSW Court of Appeals ruled that by-laws that create blanket bans on pets in Strata Buildings are harsh, oppressive and no longer permitted. Find out more in our article about Pets in Strata Buildings. Many buildings allow pets subject to certain conditions so you must first check the wording of the By-Law in the first instance.

Additionally, as a Tenant, you will need your Landlord’s permission first before you keep a pet on their property. If you are allowed, you must be able to supervise your pet, clean any common property that is soiled and ensure your pet isn’t noisy or negatively impacting other residents.

Assistance animals are allowed.  

If you need advice or assistance, contact Lake Group Strata

Are you unsure about your rights and responsibilities as a Tenant? Concerned about a dispute with your landlord or Strata Committee? Lake Group Strata is here to help.

Contact our Charlestown Office on 4942 3305 or Maitland Office on 4933 6466 to find out more.

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