Renovating your investment property? Plan to avoid potential complications!

In times like these, with so many newly built properties entering the market, it is essential to keep investment apartments renovated and up-to-date. As important as these renovations often are, however, many landlords fail to consider their possible (and often hidden) complications and pitfalls.

The need to obtain strata approval is one hurdle that is often overlooked. Recent changes in the law make it easier for strata owners to carry out “cosmetic” and “minor” renovations. However, even what you might consider to be a small renovation (eg a bathroom upgrade) is still likely to require strata approval by a special resolution vote (75%), with all the paperwork and procedural requirements that entails.

The law recognises three kinds of renovations – cosmetic, minor and major. No approval is required for cosmetic work. Only a simple majority resolution is required to approve minor renovations. A special resolution is required to approve major work.

Cosmetic work
 (for which no approval is required) includes day-to-day work including:

    • Installing or replacing hooks, nails or screws for hanging paintings or other things on walls
    • Installing or replacing handrails within your lot
    • Interior painting
    • Filling minor holes and cracks in internal walls.

Minor renovations
, for which owners need approval (over 50 per cent of votes in favour), include:

    • Renovating a kitchen
    • Changing recessed light fittings
    • Installing or replacing work or other hard floors
    • Changing internal walls
    • Sustainability measures (such as a clothesline or reverse cycle air conditioner), although these cannot involve changing the outside appearance of a lot or structural changes.

The approval process for minor renovations may need the owner to give details of the work. The owners’ corporation can speed up the approval process by:

    • Passing a by-law which allows the strata committee to approve minor renovations
    • Passing a by-law to define other kinds of work as minor renovations.

Major renovations
 require a special resolution vote (requires 75% to pass) and include:

    • Structural changes (eg removing walls)
    • Waterproofing (new bathrooms)
    • Changes affecting the outside appearance of the property, such as an access ramp
    • Work that needs approval under other laws (for example, council approval).

The owners’ corporation cannot delegate approval for major renovations to the strata committee.

Our leasing and property management team is one of the most experienced in Sydney’s East. For advice on any matter, please contact me or any member of our team: Chris Papp, Claudia Pajor, Beryl Davis, Tom Clifton, and Tracey Micallef.

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