Knowing what you can and can’t do on your strata apartment balcony can mean the difference between adhering to or breaching your strata by-laws. Here’s what you need to know about strata balconies.
Who is responsible for the balcony?
When working out what you can and can’t do on a strata apartment balcony, you need to understand who is responsible for what. The balcony can sometimes be a tricky part of a strata apartment to govern. This is because it sits in somewhat of a grey area when it comes to the boundaries between individual and common property.
Usually, anything outside of your entry points is considered common property. Typically, this would mean the Owners Corporation has full control and responsibility for the space. For example, the front door. However, the balcony is more of a shared responsibility.
Check your by-laws if you’re not certain, but generally, the Owners Corporation is responsible for the balustrade and the concrete slab. The strata owner, however, is responsible for the waterproofing membrane and above, which includes any tiling or covering added to the concrete slab.
It’s always a bit of a contentious issue, but hanging laundry over the balustrade of your balcony is usually not permitted. Most by-laws state that laundry can only be placed on the balcony if it can’t be seen from the street.
So, if you have a portable clothes airer that you can sit on the balcony, this is usually fine. Draping your sheets over the railing to dry, however, is not. You’re also responsible for the laundry you put on your balcony, so if there are high winds and you lose items, you don’t have much recourse. In fact, if clothing items are blown onto other people’s balconies or even the street, you could be in breach of your by-laws.
Whether smoking is permitted on balconies is an individual choice of the Owners Corporation, and this will be clearly outlined in the by-laws. If you’re a smoker, you should very carefully check the by-laws before purchasing a strata apartment.
New laws came into effect in 2016, giving Owners Corporations the ability to allow or disallow smoking. The building can be completely smoke-free, completely allow smoking, or only allow smoking in designated areas. Breaching the smoking by-laws can now result in fines up to $11,000. So, if you smoke, read the rules carefully before lighting up.
Naturally, if your by-laws do allow smoking on the balcony, you are responsible for ensuring cigarette butts are disposed of correctly and that your smoking doesn’t impact other owners.
Some strata buildings are happy for you to have a small barbecue on the balcony. Remember, the balcony is generally pretty small, so you won’t have space for a big 4-burner, but a smaller barbecue is often fine. However, this is at the discretion of the Owners Corporation.
Certain buildings may have a restriction on the use of gas barbecues, so always check the by-laws first.
Having friends over to enjoy some fresh air and the view is completely up to you. There are usually no specific restrictions on this, aside from adhering to maximum weight limits on the balcony. This may restrict the number of people you can have on the balcony at any one time.
With that being said, you’ll need to ensure you follow other by-laws that govern noise and behaviour. If you’re infringing on your neighbours’ right to some peace and quiet, you will be in breach of by-laws, so always be considerate of those around you.