With a global push to move toward a more sustainable future, the New South Wales government has introduced amendments to the Strata Schemes Management Act 2015 to enable the Owners Corporation to more easily implement greener initiatives within your strata scheme.
What is the purpose of the Strata Schemes Management Act?
As outlined within the Strata Schemes Management Act 2015, the objects of the Act are:
- a) to provide for the management of strata schemes,
- b) to provide for the resolution of disputes arising from strata schemes.
In other words, the Act provides structure and governance around the legislative responsibilities of managing a strata scheme.
What is sustainability infrastructure?
A Bill to amend the Strata Schemes Management Act 2015 (SSMA) was proposed in 2020 and has since passed on 16 February 2021. Titled the Strata Schemes Management Amendment (Sustainability Infrastructure) Act 2021 (the Amendment), the objective of the new provision is to make the implementation of eco-friendly solutions within strata schemes a more achievable endeavour.
Sustainability infrastructure is defined within the Amendment as the:
“changes made to part of the common property (which includes the installation, removal, modification or replacement of anything on or forming part of that property) ….”
The types of changes considered under the new legislation are outlined in section 132B of the SSMA and include the installation of any item that contributes to the following:
- a reduction of energy and/or water consumption
- increased energy efficiency
- reducing pollution and greenhouse gas emissions
- facilitating alternative forms of transport
Therefore, sustainability infrastructure in this context is a very broad category when it comes to strata schemes. The Owners Corporation may consider many different sustainable solutions such as:
- solar panels and/or batteries
- LED lighting
- water-saving taps and showerheads
- double-glazed windows
- bike racks and/or storage areas
- charging stations for electric cars
- recycling and compost bins
Overall, section 132B allows for each Owners Corporation to determine how best to pursue sustainability within their own strata scheme. As long as the ultimate purpose of the change to your strata scheme is to improve sustainability, be it additional financing, new additions or alterations, or by-law amendments, the legislation states it can be considered a ‘sustainability infrastructure resolution’ by the Owners Corporation.
How does sustainability infrastructure apply to the Act?
The insertion of the Amendment to the SSMA makes it much easier to obtain the required approval of the Owners Corporation by reducing the voting threshold.
Thanks to the new provisions, the resolution to implement greener initiatives within a strata scheme now requires only 51% of the vote and less than 25% against to move ahead.
Under the Amendment, the Owners Corporation will also need to consider a number of practical factors relating to the financing and installation of sustainability infrastructure before approving a resolution, including:
- initial outlay costs
- installation costs
- any operational and maintenance costs
- who will own and/or be responsible for installation and maintenance
- how accessible and to what extent the sustainable infrastructure will be to individual lots within the strata scheme
Whilst there have been no timeframes or deadlines placed on the Amendment, the new provisions provide excellent opportunities for owner corporations to increase property values and contribute positively to a more sustainable, greener future. Find out more by contacting More Than Strata.