What action can be taken to stop the cost unapproved projects from being paid by our body corporate’s funds and what legal action can I take? – ET, NSW

Q: I live in a complex of 13 villas, where we have to use communal bins kept next to our letterboxes, so they are all on common property.

One of the owners tried to get approval for a bin bay to be built at our last AGM but he lost the vote because our maintenance fund was basically empty. We all agreed to hold another meeting to review in a few months.

It’s now 3-4 months later and he is getting the bin bay built without body corporate approval. In an email he sent me, he explained that he decided going through the process of holding an EGM to get approval was a waste of time and after apparently talking to some other owners, he’s decided to start work on the bin bay, and our strata manager is aware of this.

He did not say how much this was going to cost or who was going to pay for this work.

My issue with all this is that he did not get approval from the owners corporation for this change, we did not approve any costs associated with this and the strata manager is fully aware and is letting him do whatever he wants.

What action can I take to stop the cost of the project from being paid by our body corporate’s funds and what legal action can I take against the strata agent?

 

A: It may be a good idea to check your strata property’s by-laws. They should outline the process and requirements to make changes to common property which you may be able to present to the owner and strata manager.

Under section 108 of the Strata Schemes Management Act 2015 in NSW, changes to common property cannot begin unless a special resolution has first been passed by the owners corporation i.e. 75% or more of the voters agree to the proposed change.

Common property changes that have not followed the proper process and documentation are legally liable to be reverted to their original state. This however will depend on each strata property its by-laws.

Given that this was not agreed on in a way that is fully documented and recorded, you may want to explain the importance of due diligence and following correct processes and procedures. Holding an EGM and going through the proper channels to make changes to common property can save everyone trouble in future.

We recommend speaking to your strata manager about the issue and seeking mediation. If this fails you may wish to seek help from the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal (NCAT).