I know you’re probably thinking that when I purchased my apartment, it would have the same rules as a house, specifically the notion of “its mine and I can do whatever I want with it”. Be honest, you probably thought that initially, correct? When you are a first time Strata Owner that’s often the thinking that most people come into Strata with and for many its the first time that you actually get to know what the Strata rules actually are. It’s when it comes time to Renovating your apartment, the notion of “it’s mine” first starts to get challenged.
You’re probably thinking that the walls, the floors, the ceilings, the doors are all things that you own, when in fact all you own when you buy into strata is the air space in your unit. Those items that I’ve just identified are all regarded as common property. They are not owned by you and the responsibility to maintain them is also not your responsibility. It’s for that very reason, that since you don’t own it you are also not responsible to repair those issues. Therefore, Strata has a lawful right to decide what is and isn’t done within your apartment unit. In that context, there a very useful resource that I urge you to get acquainted with. It’s called “Who Is Responsible”
So, if you considering Renovating your apartment and if you want to do things properly you should approach your owners corporation (who is managed by an executive committee) and inform them of your plans to renovate. There is a proper process to go about it which we detail below.
The one thing you must NOT do is keep your plans to yourself and not tell anyone. Should you go down this road without permission, as is required by legislation, you may be required to re-instate common property to its original condition. Save yourself the hassle, do it the right way, get permission and provide yourself peace of mind.
Strata Community Australia Industry body has developed an excellent “best practice” guide on the process of obtaining permission, what information needs to be provided and the reasons for going through the process.
To set the correct expectations:
- Don’t expect an immediate turn around from the Executive Committee that manages your Strata on such requests. There are many issues need to be considered and the individuals who are making these decisions in relation to your application are volunteers and almost all have full-time jobs, just like yourself (more than likely).
- What most people don’t realise is that unless this process is controlled it will have a negative impact on the future levy costs of the strata plan. For example; if the executive committee allowed shoddy tradesmen to perform renovations to your apartment where common property was affected, Strata would be responsible to pay for resulting repairs, unless there was a by-law in place to make these renovations your responsibility.
So you can see what started off as a simple request to renovate your apartment where you thought the ceilings, the floors, the walls, the doors and the windows were all yours has resulted in involving the executive committee of your strata plan, followed by the need to make sure they understand what the scope of works is, the trades people who will perform the work, the impact of noise on other residences during construction and lastly determining who will maintain the renovations in the future.
Save yourself a lot of hassle and simply follow the “best practice” guidelines and you will find that the result will be a much smoother process.
Happy Peace of Mind Renovating !