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CTTT Prepared To Get Tough

Wednesday, 13th June 2012

BACKGROUND In July 2009 the respondents sought consent from the Strata Manager for various alterations to the lot which included the removal of an internal wall between the kitchen and living area of the lot and the removal of the sliding balcony doors that separated balcony from the living area.

The Owners Corporation, whilst approving of some of the works (subject to certain conditions), the proposed works which sought to remove the internal wall and sliding balcony doors were refused.

Various correspondence then ensued and passed between the Respondents and the Owners Corporation in relation to concerns over fire safety and the structural integrity of the building being affected. Ultimately, the Owners Corporation did not approve of the works and the Respondent proceeded to carry out all of its intended alterations.

Upon discovery by the strata manager of the unauthorised works that had been carried out to the lot, the respondents were requested to reinstate the common property immediately.  The respondents argued that a neighbouring lot carried out the same works to their balcony some years before and on that basis they should be allowed to do the same. 

The matter proceeded to mediation (which failed). The Owners Corporation subsequently lodged an Application for Orders By An Adjudicator seeking orders for the Respondent to reinstate the unauthorised works back to their original condition before the works were carried out.

THE DECISION

The Adjudicator, granting orders in favour of the Owners Corporation made orders that the Respondents were not to carry out any further alterations to the common property without further written consent and ordered the common property wall dividing the balconies of the lot and the works carried out to the remainder of the lot were to be replaced and reinstated back to their original condition.

Whilst the Adjudicator noted that not all of the works carried out on the lot had to be reinstated (as this work affected the gyprocking and painting of internal surfaces) the adjudicator found that the respondent had not obtained prior consent of the Owners Corporation in general meeting and that some of the works involved alteration and destruction of common property. 

As some level of discussion had taken place previously between the Respondent and the Owners Corporation, the Adjudicator gave the Respondents 6 months in order to reinstate the common property. This was on the basis to allow the Respondent to submit a by-law to the Owners Corporation for approval of the totality of the works it had carried out.

IMPACT ON STRATA SCHEMES

Despite the Adjudicator granting 6 months for which the respondents were to reinstate common property back to its original condition by, the result of this case shows that the Consumer Trader & Tenancy Tribunal are prepared to make reinstatement orders (which involve substantial works) of which the practical consequences of such orders for a Respondent can have adverse consequences, both financially and emotionally. This decision highlights and reinforces the position that lot owners can expect tough sanctions being made against them when they are not prepared to follow due process. 

 

 

For further information please see:

The Owners Strata Plan no 13389 v Blackmore  (NSW CTTT) 13 July 2011

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