Can other owners stop me from entering common areas?
As a lot owner, can I be refused entry to common areas by another occupier?
All lot owners have access to all areas considered as common property.
There can be restrictions for safety reasons, such as plant rooms and rooftops. However, some common property areas may be for exclusive use by some owners. These areas are usually obvious, such as areas right by the front door, a courtyard, or a car park. There may be some areas that are not commonly seen, such as basement storage.
In Victoria, there are two ways an owner can have special access to common areas. The first is a licence. A licensee may use an area, but that area is not solely theirs. For example, a lot owner may be granted a licence to use a particular car park, but it remains open to others for use if the licensed lot owner isn’t using it. This means that even if a lot owner were to possess this licence, they still would not have the authority or rights to restrict anyone from entering the area. The second is a lease, wherein the tenant will have exclusive possession of a selected area. This is subject only to limited rights granted to the landlord under the lease.
For common property leases, a special resolution is required to approve the change. This means a 75% voting approval is required from all unit owners must be achieved during a meeting. Payment must also be arranged to change the rule and in some cases exclusive use. Those with exclusive use of common property are also obligated to maintain that common property, ensuring it is kept in good order. Unless the lot owner meets these conditions and has the special access leases in place, they cannot prevent lot owners from using common property.
Remember, building rules can’t be unconscionable or discriminatory. If you think you need further help, you can seek help from Kemps Petersons Legal.
Kemps Petersons Legal provide affordable and specialised advice for building rules and community living. To find out more, visit here.