Forum: Can an unseen screen alter ‘appearance’?

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Having spent years trying to answer readers’ questions or, more to the point, allowing Flatchatters to answer each other’s, I have a question for you.

I have recently bought an investment property in regional NSW and I am involved in a daily arm-wrestle with a 12-year-old strata manager who thinks his job is to hold the AGM once a year and supervise the occasional strata committee meeting, but otherwise run the block and make all the decisions (while running up Schedule B fees like they’re going out of fashion).

He has even refused to turn over the strata roll because “you don’t need it …I’ll take care of the emails and it’s a privacy issue.”

Don’t worry, all that will be dealt with as he learns the legal facts of strata life. But here’s a conundrum.  An owner (not me) wants to erect a screen in the corner of his balcony that’s out of sight of the rest of the scheme and the surrounding area.

StrataBoy says it changes the appearance of the building therefore it needs a by-law.  I ask, how can it change the appearance if no one can see it? Doesn’t appearance require the object to be visible?

What’s the difference?  If the invisible screen does change the appearance, it requires a common property by-law (which means $1000 in legal fees for the owner and Schedule B fees for the strata management company).

If it doesn’t change the appearance, it’s a minor renovation – no by-law, no fees.

What do you think?  Seriously, would you go to the barricades over this, or am I wrong (again)?

Elsewhere in the Forum

  • Should your rental agent provide access if you can’t be there to let tradies in for strata repairs?  That’s HERE.
  • If a committee meeting isn’t properly conducted, do the decisions still stand? That’s HERE.
  • Why it costs more to replace a balcony in a Class 2 building than a Class 1. That’s HERE.
  • Insurance confusion over break-ins at storage units. That’s HERE.
  • How much detail should there be in our budgets and financial statements?  That’s HERE.
  • Where can I get sound recording devices to prove I’m not too noisy?  That’s HERE.

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  • #71802
    Jimmy-T
    Keymaster

      Having spent years trying to answer readers’ questions or, more to the point, allowing Flatchatters to answer each other’s, I have a question for you.
      [See the full post at: Forum: Can an unseen screen alter ‘appearance’?]

      The opinions offered in these Forum posts and replies are not intended to be taken as legal advice. Readers with serious issues should consult experienced strata lawyers.
    Viewing 6 replies - 1 through 6 (of 6 total)
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    • #71804
      Just Asking
      Flatchatter

        Strataboy needs to do some StrataSkool revision. It is not about “appearance”. The screen would amount to an addition or improvement to common property, as covered by s108 SSMA 2015.

        In addition to passing a special resolution it would be wise to sign the owner up to a bylaw to ensure the owner is responsible for ongoing repairs and maintenance to the screen, and any consequential wear or damage to common property.

        • This reply was modified 7 months, 3 weeks ago by .
        #71815
        Jimmy-T
        Keymaster
        Chat-starter

          The screen would amount to an addition or improvement to common property, as covered by s108 SSMA 2015.

          What about section 110 (minor renovations):

          110   Minor renovations by owners

          (1)  The owner of a lot in a strata scheme may carry out work for the purposes of minor renovations to common property in connection with the owner’s lot with the approval of the owners corporation given by resolution at a general meeting. A special resolution authorising the work is not required.

          (2)  The approval may be subject to reasonable conditions imposed by the owners corporation and cannot be unreasonably withheld by the owners corporation.

          The opinions offered in these Forum posts and replies are not intended to be taken as legal advice. Readers with serious issues should consult experienced strata lawyers.
          #71826
          andyj
          Flatchatter

            Im going to make a bit of a punt on this one, mostly as I am keenly aware if things go before NCAT it “can” end up as an interpretation of the act made of the member of the day.

            s108 I believe is intended for more substantial changes to common property, such as a retaining wall etc, whereas s110 is for minor changes as Jimmy has indicated. A screen that cannot be seen and presumably isn’t a more substantial modification would likely be covered by s110. I would therefore lean toward Jimmy’s argument because.

            s110..

            (8) Section 108 does not apply to minor renovations carried out in accordance with this section.

            • This reply was modified 7 months, 2 weeks ago by .
            #71831
            Just Asking
            Flatchatter

              Hi Jimmy, please cut me a slice of humble pie. I gave a reflex response, not a considered one.

              We do not know the type of screen proposed. I had assumed a privacy or solar screen made of metal with either frosted glass, slats or louvres. It could possibly even be an insect screen. Nor do we know the proposed scope of works, whether the screen is part of a refurbishment of the balcony area.

              Even if the erection of the screen can be characterised as a renovation, situated on the corner of the balcony it is likely to alter the external appearance of the lot. It may be out of the line of sight of other owners, but it will at least be visible by the owner. The proposed installation of the screen would probably fall outside s110 SSMA as the section does not require the change to the external appearance to be visible from any given viewing position.

              I do look forward to reading the chronicling of the adventures (or trials and tribulations?) of Strataboy.

              #71841
              Jimmy-T
              Keymaster
              Chat-starter

                Even if the erection of the screen can be characterised as a renovation, situated on the corner of the balcony it is likely to alter the external appearance of the lot. It may be out of the line of sight of other owners, but it will at least be visible by the owner.

                If it’s only visible by the owner or their guests when they are in the lot then the EXTERNAL appearance of the screen is not affected.  External means from outside.

                It really is as basic as that.  And here’s another consideration, if the strata committee agrees this is a minor renovation but attaches conditions such as continuing maintenance what’s the downside (apart from Strataboy not earning a fee for registering the by-law)?

                The opinions offered in these Forum posts and replies are not intended to be taken as legal advice. Readers with serious issues should consult experienced strata lawyers.
                #71931
                Ziggy
                Flatchatter

                  I wanted to put an awning on my balcony that was attached to the common property roof. No you can’t was the SC’s response. You can’t because it would drip on the units below when raining. If I wanted one, I would have to create a bylaw and follow the council’s rules about size and visibility. Guess what, no one can see it as it’s 4 metres from the edge of my lot! Nowhere near anyone else’s property . So I wrote my own bylaw and had it voted on. Now I have the awning.

                Viewing 6 replies - 1 through 6 (of 6 total)
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