If you’re a landlord in NSW with a property investment or considering becoming a landlord in the near future it’s worth noting the proposed changes to the strata laws announced by the state government. While there are over 90 changes proposed, many are simply small alterations to existing by laws and rules. Let’s look at three of the major proposed changes that may have a direct impact on landlords and their tenants.
With pet ownership at an all time high and more and more people wanting to rent and own brand new developments, the proposal to change the default bylaws for pet ownership will be welcome news to many. If the proposal is accepted, it means that the standard position on pet ownership within a residential building will be that it is allowed “under reasonable circumstances”. Older buildings in which the strata committee has rules against pet ownership will not be affected and new developments can write their own rules, however approval for pets cannot be unreasonably withheld. Having more options when it comes to pet ownership is good news for anyone with a property investment as it opens up the rental market considerably.
This proposal will interest tenants in that it will give them the ability to elect a representative to attend strata committee meetings in a development where tenants make up more than half of the residents. This idea makes sense as the people who actually live in the building will be given an opportunity to talk about their issues or have direct communication with the rest of the building’s residents. There are limits of what the tenant representative will be able to do, however, including the fact that they couldn’t vote in strata matters or be present when financial matters are being discussed. They will also not be allowed to be elected to positions such as chairman or secretary.
This proposal concerns the practice of so-called “proxy farming” or “proxy harvesting” in which owners use the votes of uninterested or absentee investors to get their own way in strata matters. The new changes will mean that property owners in small developments will only be allowed one proxy vote, and in larger buildings they can have five proxy votes or 20% of the vote.
The planned changes to the current strata laws are the biggest reform since the Strata Titles Act was introduced in the early 1970’s, and are designed to drag the residential bylaws and rules into the modern era. The proposals are now open for public comment and the government is asking property industry experts, strata owners and other interested parties for their feedback before the changes are finalised. All landlords and anyone with an interest in property investment should be aware of these proposals and ensuring that their property management company is monitoring their progress carefully.