Flat Chat Strata Forum Common Property Current Page

  • This topic has 16 replies, 5 voices, and was last updated 4 weeks ago by .
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  • #73053
    TrulEConcerned
    Flatchatter

      A lot owner (Mr Y) who is also a SC member wants to install an air conditioning unit (“AC”) in his lot. By way of background, there was never an AC unit in that lot and there is no general by law relating to AC units.

      Mr Y sent the strata manager a broad outline (two paragraphs of text) of the AC unit he wants to purchase and to install (he copied this to the SC).

      As a SC member myself, it seems that the strata mgr is unaware of what is required in such a situation. This was backed up by the applicant telling me he was not asked any of the questions I am asking of him below, so I wrote to the applicant (owner) as follows:

      Dear Mr Y,

      1. Your email indicates that you misunderstand how meetings take place. The 7 day notice you refer to is not from when you email your intention to install an AC unit. But is (no less than) 7 days from when an agenda is sent out and no agenda has been prepared let alone sent;

      2. In order for the air conditioning matter to be considered properly, the OC requires more details from you. The following come to mind:
      (a) Please confirm that the installation will be carried out by a licensed professional and will comply with all relevant building codes and regulations;

      (b) Please provide the OC with evidence of the license and insurance details of the contractor;

      (c) Please provide the original quote you received as that should have the tradesman’s and warranty details as well as a listing of components;

      (d) Please provide information on what changes to common property, such as drilling holes into walls for piping and to secure the air conditioning unit are to be undertaken. This must be by way of a formal document from the installer;

      (e) Please provide diagrams and/or photos that would shed light on where exactly the air conditioning unit is to be installed and the impact on common property. These plans should show where pipes are to be laid, what materials are to be used and what changes to the electricity supplied to the lot, if any, will be needed;

      (f) Please provide a brochure of the air conditioning system so the OC can understand what is the expected level of noise generated. Often this can be addressed from brochures listing the model of air conditioner;

      (g) Are you aware the matter will require a special resolution?;

      (h) Are you aware the matter requires a specific by-law to be prepared and registered?;

      (i) Please confirm that repair and maintenance of the air conditioner unit and associated infrastructure will be for the account of the lot owner; and

      (j) Please note that all costs regarding the above including strata manager’s charges for  preparing for a meeting and an agenda, hosting the meeting, preparing and issuing minutes as well as other costs e.g. legal (such as strata mgr liaising with solicitor about the air conditioning by law, the solicitor’s charge to prepare the by-law and related registration fees) will be for the account of the lot owner (the applicant).

      I look forward to your reply.

      =======
      My concern is that other SC members are not only new to strata living but prioritise harmony amongst owners above the welfare of the OC and above applying the SSM Act correctly and will argue against what some consider my “over the top” requirements.

      1. Forum members please let me know if I missed something in my above summary of what I wrote to the applicant;
      2. Can the OC approve the AC installation without the details I asked for? That is, on the basis of an informal email which lacks details I am seeking (see above); and
      3. If the answer to (2) is YES, what are my avenues to safeguard the OC?

      Thanks to all in advance for their replies.

      • This topic was modified 1 month, 2 weeks ago by .
    Viewing 15 replies - 1 through 15 (of 16 total)
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    • #73062
      Jimmy-T
      Keymaster

        (g) Are you aware the matter will require a special resolution?;

        If it’s a reverse cycle air-con in may only need a sustainability by-law which only requires a simple majority.

        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.
        • This reply was modified 1 month, 2 weeks ago by .
        #73074
        chesswood
        Flatchatter

          How much current will the equipment draw when running at full power? Please provide a certificate from a licensed electrician that the current is available without modifications to the OC’s power supply.

          Will any cabling that affects common property be required?

          #73080
          TrulEConcerned
          Flatchatter
          Chat-starter

            @Jimmy -I hear you. It may not require a special resolution. But what of my query about the level of detail to be supplied. Can an OC blindly wave through an application to install without propert documentation from the installer? All we have is a short very informal email.


            @chesswood
            – you make a good point. Thanks.

             

            #73082
            Jimmy-T
            Keymaster

              To be honest, the amount of detail you have spelled out, including demands to know all the materials that will be involved and the warning that costs for strata manager time will be transferred to the applicant, reads like an attempt to deter the installation.

              The owners corporation is entitled to know the impact the installation will have on common property (and possibly the electricity supply), to have a binding undertaking that the lot owner will maintain and repair affected common property, and know any visual impact it may have on the scheme.

              You are also entitled to ask that a professional installer be used and for the lot owner understand that any noise issue could result in the unit being limited in the times that it is used (e.g. not at night) or removed completely.

              But you can’t project a worst-case scenario on to the regulations that you want to impose.  You have to give people the opportunity to act in good faith but with a clear understanding that there will be consequences if they install a noisy or otherwise intrusive unit.

              The question of the power load is more important than most people realise, but for that you need to know what the power capacity currently is and what the limits for additional air-con units might be. That is something your OC probably needs to address separately from this individual application, in case this leads to a number of similar requests.

              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.
              #73084
              chesswood
              Flatchatter

                Condensate from the equipment will have to be dealt with. This might involve running electrical conduit down the outside wall to a garden or drain, raising appearance issues.

                To clarify the electrical capacity situation, if an OC upgrade is required now, it must be budgeted for. If the upgrade can be deferred until other units want OC, one day someone will have to think about how it is to be funded.

                #73085
                TrulEConcerned
                Flatchatter
                Chat-starter

                  @Jimmy

                  Thanks for the reply. I am not asking for more than I have seen asked at other schemes. In this scheme nobody asked in the past for approval so there is neither a by law in place nor a template for submitting an application.

                  In my email to the applicant, with a CC to the straat mgr, I made clear that I want the matter approved speedily but that no corners be cut and that the OC be protected. I mentioned “protection” because I was told of a case some years ago when an approval was waved through and when the A/C unit broke down the OC was asked to repair it. NCAT mentioned a colossal error by the OC when it drafted the by law: it did not specify who pays for what repair or maintenance.

                  I agree about not projecting the worse case possibility.

                  The power issue is a good one, thanks.

                  #73122
                  Jimmy-T
                  Keymaster

                    I mentioned “protection” because I was told of a case some years ago when an approval was waved through and when the A/C unit broke down the OC was asked to repair it.

                    The common property by-law defaults to the owners corp being liable for maintenance and repair if they haven’t bothered to get the beneficiary to agree to take responsibility.

                    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.
                    #73137
                    kaindub
                    Flatchatter

                      . Can the OC approve the AC installation without the details I asked for? That is, on the basis of an informal email which lacks details I am seeking (see above);and

                       

                      The answer is yes (IMHO) All the lot owner needs to do is to request a motion at a general meeting fro a special by law and a motion to install. The OC is obliged to arrange a arrange a meeting with these items on the agenda (But it can defer this till the next AGM)

                      I cant see a reason that the chairman can say that its in contravention of the act, which is the only reason the act allows a motion to be not voted on.

                      It depends on the attendance at your AGM as to what happens next. Many owners dont attend meetings and just vote for everything on the agenda.

                      You could amend  the motion at the meeting to include all the items you ask for, but it needs to be reasonable (perhaps a list of what must be done rather than preconditions)

                      Or if there are enough owners in attendance the motion could be voted down after discussions.

                      Its good governance to have the strata manager and the committee look over these types of applications and advise the owner of any prerequirements. But dont be obstructive.

                      The last thing you want is to be taken to the tribunal and have the issue ruled against you.

                      #73271
                      Quirky
                      Flatchatter

                        You are on shaky legal grounds, I think. The Owners Corporation has authority over common property only, and in the case of installing an AC that would likely mainly involve a couple of holes through the walls for the pipes and electric cables. You don’t say if you are an office holder on the strata committee, but only the secretary (or delegated strata manager) has the authority to issue any demand email to the AC installation applicant. Decisions about renovations are made by the strata committee at a properly convened strata committee meeting, and not by individual committee members.
                        You should have sent that email to the strata manager and strata committee secretary, and request they arrange a strata committee meeting, with the substance of your email as an agenda item. Then the committee could make a decision about sending those demands to the owner asking to install an AC.
                        Furthermore the renovation is likely to be a “minor” renovation, which has a lower approval standard – your allegation about it requiring a special resolution is likely not correct. If the matter had been dealt with in a strata committee setting, a better solution would likely have resulted.
                        Your demands, as well as not being lawful, are onerous, and could very well result in the owner ignoring the committee entirely. If they ignored the committee and just installed the AC, then all the committee could do, would be to allege some of the AC installation was illegal under strata law. Assuming the AC was installed by a regular AC installation company, it is likely that it was done competently. The Tribunal, should your committee try to take action, would find in the other owners favour, in all likelihood, and could order damages, if your committee was foolish enough to take action (assuming the AC operated normally, and did not cause any problems, which most AC companies are familiar with anyway).
                        I have to emphasize that individual strata committee members do NOT have any power to communicate with owners, or to make demands of them, outside properly convened strata committee meetings, although the secretary of the committee may have some rights to do so, but they would be wise to follow the advice of your strata manager, and only do so from decisions made at the committee meetings.

                        #73279
                        Jimmy-T
                        Keymaster

                          You are on shaky legal grounds, I think. The Owners Corporation has authority over common property only, and in the case of installing an AC that would likely mainly involve a couple of holes through the walls for the pipes and electric cables.

                          As I have noted in the other aircon thread, in NSW balconies are common property and the owners corp can decide what is and isn’t allowed on them.

                          There are other errors in this post.  Of course, committee members can communicate with individual owners, although, as you say, they can’t make demands or issue rulings individually.

                          Also, installing aircon is only listed as a minor renovation in the regulations if it is a reverse cycle system. So what does that say about non reverse cycle air con? Here’s an extract from the Regulations

                          28 Minor renovations by owners
                          Work for the following purposes is prescribed as minor renovations for the purposes of section 110 (3) of the Act:
                          (d) installing a reverse cycle split system air conditioner,
                          Note. The work prescribed by this clause is subject to the requirements set out in section 110 (7) of the Act, including requirements that it does not involve structural changes, changes to the external appearance of a lot or waterproofing.

                          Section 110 (7) says the minor renovation clauses don’t apply to work that changes the outward appearance of the lot. You may also have a look at Section 108 which requires some changes to common property to have by-law approval.

                          And even if it is a minor renovation that doesn’t require a by-law – which is far from clearcut – there are still processes that have to be followed and permissions that must be obtained, as per section 110.

                          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.
                          • This reply was modified 1 month, 1 week ago by .
                          #73282
                          Jimmy-T
                          Keymaster

                            The Tribunal, should your committee try to take action, would find in the other owners favour, in all likelihood, and could order damages,

                            The Tribunal doesn’t award damages – only prescribed penalties for by-law or strata law breaches – and only awards costs in very specific and limited circumstances such as one party knowingly pursuing a hopeless case or delaying the process unnecessarily. You can’t assume the Tribunal would rule one way or the other, especially in a case where an owner has not followed strata law and by-laws.

                            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.
                            #73285
                            TrulEConcerned
                            Flatchatter
                            Chat-starter

                              Kaindub, you mention that “its good governance to have the strata manager and the committee look over these types of applications and advise the owner of any prerequirements. But dont be obstructive”.

                              I don’t think you are aware of how clueless some strata managers are and how ill equipped some committees are.

                              One owner suggested we use a by-law he found in another strata and that was accepted without a peep by the strata manager, even though it contains terms that have no relevance to our strata.

                              As for the committee to look over the application…, the person seeking to install the a/c is a committee member who thinks no paper trail eg listing the qualifications, experience and insurance of the installer is needed.

                              #73287
                              TrulEConcerned
                              Flatchatter
                              Chat-starter

                                Jimmy, I just established the a/c proposed is reverse cycle split system.

                                #73286
                                TrulEConcerned
                                Flatchatter
                                Chat-starter

                                  Quirky, thanks for your many points.

                                  You wrote “You don’t say if you are an office holder on the strata committee, but only the secretary (or delegated strata manager) has the authority to issue any demand email to the AC installation applicant. Decisions about renovations are made by the strata committee at a properly convened strata committee meeting, and not by individual committee members”. Sorry I was unclear. I am the Sec.

                                  You indicate that ” (I) should have sent that email to the strata manager and strata committee secretary, and request they arrange a strata committee meeting, with the substance of your email as an agenda item. Then the committee could make a decision about sending those demands to the owner asking to install an AC”.

                                  What happens if the committee decides not to require the matters I listed to be addressed by the applicant? That is, no need for plans, no need for proof the installer is insured or qualified and no obligation for the applicant to pay for repairs and maintenance of the A/C? If the majority vote that way, is such a decision legally valid?

                                  The strata mgr decided the matter should go to a EGM. Is that correct? I think your point on “minor renovation” and that the venue for such a decision is a strata committee meeting makes sense.

                                   

                                   

                                   

                                   

                                  #73293
                                  Jimmy-T
                                  Keymaster

                                    Jimmy, I just established the a/c proposed is reverse cycle split system.

                                    If that’s the case, then it still comes under Section 110 (Minor Renovations)  which says this:

                                    (4)  Before obtaining the approval of the owners corporation, an owner of a lot must give written notice of proposed minor renovations to the owners corporation, including the following—

                                    (a)  details of the work, including copies of any plans,

                                    (b)  duration and times of the work,

                                    (c)  details of the persons carrying out the work, including qualifications to carry out the work,

                                    (d)  arrangements to manage any resulting rubbish or debris.

                                    (5)  An owner of a lot must ensure that—

                                    (a)  any damage caused to any part of the common property by the carrying out of minor renovations by or on behalf of the owner is repaired, and

                                    (b)  the minor renovations and any repairs are carried out in a competent and proper manner.

                                    Apart from that, if the strata committee has full delegated powers to act as the OC, then the SC can decide on approval or otherwise and if the owner isn’t happy they can take it to an EGM or AGM  for approval by the entire OC.
                                    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.
                                    • This reply was modified 1 month ago by .
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