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What is Common Property?

In a strata scheme, the external walls, the floor and roof do not usually belong to the lot owner. These areas are usually common property and the maintenance and repair of these parts of the building is usually the responsibility of the Owners Corporation. 

As common property, the lot owner is not able to alter or renovate these areas without the permission of the Owners Corporation.  In effect, in most strata schemes, the Lot Owner owns the inside of the lot but not the main structure of the building. Usually the four main walls, the ceiling, roof and floor are common property. The dividing walls within the lot (for example, the wall between the kitchen and lounge room), floor coverings such as carpet and fixtures such as baths, toilet bowls, benchtops are all the property of the Lot Owner.


What is Cosmetic Work?

Cosmetic Work, does not need approval of the Owners Corporation (but it is still a good idea to give notice).  Cosmetic Work includes but is not limited to:

  • installing or replacing hooks, nails or screws for hanging paintings and other things on walls, 
  • installing or replacing handrails,
  • painting, and filling minor holes and cracks in internal walls,
  • laying carpet,
  • installing or replacing built-in wardrobes,
  • installing or replacing blinds and curtains.

When proceeding with Cosmetic Work, an owner of a lot must ensure that any damage caused to any part of the common property by the carrying out of cosmetic work by or on behalf of the owner is repaired, and the cosmetic work and any repairs are carried out in a competent and proper manner.

The by-laws of a strata scheme may specify additional work that is to be cosmetic work for the purposes of this section.  (Part 6 Section 109 - Strata Schemes Management Bill 2015.)


Minor Renovations? 

Minor Renovations may be carried out with approval of the owners corporation given by resolution at a general meeting.  The approval may be subject to reasonable conditions imposed by the owners corporation and cannot be unreasonably withheld by the owners corporation. 

Minor Renovations include but are not limited to:

  • renovating a kitchen or bathroom, installing or changing recessed light fittings,
  • installing or replacing wood or other hard floors,
  • removing carpet or other soft floor coverings to expose underlying wooden or other hard floors,
  • installing or replacing wiring or cabling or power or access points,
  • installing a rainwater tank or clothes line,
  • installing double or triple glazed windows,
  • installing a heat pump, or split system reverse cycle air conditioning,
  • installing ceiling insulation.

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:

  • details of the work, including copies of any plans,
  • duration and times of the work,
  • details of the persons carrying out the work, including qualifications to carry out the work,
  • arrangements to manage any resulting rubbish or debris.

A Lot Owner must ensure that any damage caused to any part of the common property by the carrying out of minor renovations is repaired, and the minor renovations and any repairs are carried out in a competent and proper manner.

The by-laws of a strata scheme may provide for the additional work that is to be a minor renovation for the purposes of this section, and permit the owners corporation to delegate its functions under this section to the strata committee. (Part 6 Section 110 - Strata Schemes Management Bill 2015, Section 28 Strata Schemes Regulation 2016).


Other Renovation?

Structural changes, changing the external appearance of a lot, and any work involving waterproofing will need special permission of the Owners Corporation.  Any work that does not fit the definitions of Cosmetic or Minor Renovation needs approval of the Owners Corporation.  

The Owner of a lot in a strata scheme must not alter the structure of a lot without giving to the Owners Corporation, at least 14 days before commencement of the alteration, a written notice describing the proposed alteration.   The Owners Corporation can decide, by special resolution at a general meeting, to pass an exclusive use by-law which gives the owner the use (not ownership) of that area of common property and makes that owner responsible for the repair and maintenance of the area (Part 8, Division 1, Section 152, Strata Schemes Management 2015).