Q: We moved in 2021 and had some plantation shutter installed because we are on the ground level with a young baby. We thought it’s cosmetic work and hence didn’t seek for strata approval. The shutter is not visible from any street level and it’s white and well within our unit. The strata committee said we have to take it down. Could you please help us?
We had plantation shutter installed for cosmetic work and didn’t seek for strata approval. The strata committee said we have to take it down. – Caitlin, NSW
A: We encourage you to check the registered by-laws in the first instance under ‘Changes to Common Property.’ There may be information about installing a safety device for protection against intruders, improving safety, preventing animal or insect entry or preventing harm to children. If there is, this type of structure would need to be in keeping with the appearance of the rest of the building and not affect any compliance, such as fire safety.
If the lot owner considers the installation as per the conditions detailed in the by-law, you may wish to reply stating such. If still challenged by the Strata Committee, we encourage you to add a motion in the next general meeting agenda to allow all owners to vote whether the installation is per the registered by-law or if it agrees with the committee’s position (with a detailed reason). Attach photos of the installation showing the fixture, including from outside of the lot (common area and street facing) and a copy of the by-law excerpt regarding changes to common property (if evident) as an annexure to allow the Owners Corporation to have an informed position when voting.
Whilst the committee may act in good faith on behalf of all owners, it may be worthwhile getting the majority of the Owners Corporations actual position.
If the Owners Corporation declines and agrees with the Strata Committee at the general meeting, and the owner of the lot considers the vote unreasonable. In that case, they may wish to apply to Fair Trading to use their resources to assist with resolving the dispute.