Strata renovation rules
Understand what changes need approval, otherwise you might be forced to change it back.
- You need permission to do a kitchen or bathroom renovation. You also need permission to change the walls, floors, or ceilings.
- You do not need permission to make cosmetic changes that don’t affect the structure of your property or require waterproofing.
- Check your scheme’s by-laws before you start renovating so you know what approvals are needed and how to get them.
- If you don’t follow the correct process, you risk having to pay money to put the property back to how it was before you renovated it.
Did you know?
The three types of renovations
Cosmetic work doesn't need approval.
Cosmetic work includes any changes that don’t affect the structure or outside of your apartment, duplex or strata property and don’t require waterproofing.
Some examples of cosmetic work include:
- installing or replacing hooks, nails, screws, handrails, blinds, curtains or built-in wardrobes
- painting the interior
- filling minor holes and cracks in internal walls
- laying carpet.
Your strata scheme can choose to add more types of work to the list of cosmetic work; check your by-laws to see what applies in your scheme.
Minor renovations need approval.
To do minor renovations, you will need to contact the owners corporation, strata committee or strata managing agent and request permission.
You will need to show them:
- plans of the work, including dates and times of when the work will be done
- the qualifications and details of the tradespeople who will do the work
- if you’re installing flooring, an acoustic certificate to show sound insulation.
They will ask you to submit your changes to a vote at a strata meeting. You’ll need more than 50% of the votes cast in favour of the work at the meeting.
Minor renovations include kitchen renovations (for example, installing or removing cupboards), changes to internal walls or changes to recessed light fittings. They also include installing or replacing:
- wood, tile or other hard flooring, including removing carpets
- wiring, cabling, power, or access points
- a rainwater tank
- a clothesline
- a reverse cycle air conditioner
- double or triple glazed windows
- a heat pump
- ceiling insulation.
Your strata scheme can choose to add more types of work to the list of minor renovations; check your by-laws to see what applies in your scheme.
Minor renovations cannot change the outside or structure of your apartment, duplex or strata property or require waterproofing. If you do not get permission for minor renovations, you may need to pay money to put the property back to how it was before you renovated it.
Only the owners corporation can approve major renovations.
Major renovations need a special resolution vote at an annual general meeting (AGM) or other general meeting of the owners corporation. This means no more than 25% of votes cast are against the work.
If your work will change the structure of your property (for example, removing a wall), you must also give the owners corporation 14 days’ written notice before the work starts. This notice should describe how your renovations will change the property structure.
Find out more about how to raise a matter for discussion at a meeting.
Major renovations include:
- Changes that affect the outside or structure of your apartment, duplex or strata property
- Changes that require waterproofing
- Changes to the ceiling
- Work that needs approval under other laws (for example, council approval).
Some examples include moving a structural internal wall, bathroom renovations (for example, installing a new toilet, vanity or shower), installing an access ramp or installing a false ceiling.
If you're using a building contractor or tradesperson, make sure that they have a valid contractor licence.
If you do not get permission for major renovations, you may need to pay money to put the property back to how it was before you renovated it.
Depending on the type of renovation you would like to do, you may need to wait for a strata meeting to be held so that owners can vote to approve your renovations.
Strata schemes must hold at least one meeting per year, though many choose to hold more. Speak to the owners corporation, strata committee or strata manager to find out when the next meeting will be held.
If approval is taking too long, or has stalled, speak to the owners corporation, strata committee or strata manager to work out how you can resolve the issue. Visit disputes and complaints to find out more.
If you’re a tenant, you should write to your landlord to ask for permission before you make any changes. The landlord cannot unreasonably reject requests for cosmetic or minor renovations.
If the landlord agrees to the renovation, they must follow the strata approval process above, on the tenant’s behalf.
Renovations and common property
If you want to make renovations that affect common property, you may need to change the by-laws in your scheme.
This could include creating or changing by-laws about who is responsible for maintaining common property, getting the right to use a part of the common property exclusively or getting other special privileges.
The type of by-law change you may have to make usually depends on how much your renovations affect the common property. Check the by-laws in your scheme and speak to the owners corporation, strata committee or strata manager about what you might need.
By-laws are changed by vote at a strata meeting. Any owners affected by changes to common property need to agree to the changes in writing.
Learn the difference between annual general meetings, extraordinary general meetings, and strata committee meetings.
Owners corporations can update their by-laws to make the renovation approvals process quicker.
Some renovations are actually 'maintenance' and should be paid for by the owners corporation.
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