Hundreds of strata landlords are breaking the law.
Hundreds of strata landlords are breaking the law. Make that thousands … Hell, make it tens of thousands – nobody really knows.
What we do know is that it clearly states in the NSW Strata Act that landlords have to give tenants a copy of their strata scheme's by-laws within seven days or cop a fine of up to $100.
And we know that landlords must tell their owners' corporation who they have let their unit to and who the agent is within 14 days of the lease starting or face fines of up to $500.
We are also certain a lot of landlords don't bother with either of these statutory duties. Many will leave it to their agents – those paragons of reliability – so you can bet that in many of the 200,000 to 300,000 strata lets in NSW, the law is being broken frequently and with impunity.
This is a big issue in strata. Owners' corps frequently can't sort out problems with tenants because they don't know who the agent is. Tenants, often quite reasonably, claim they don't know they're breaching by-laws because they've never seen them.
Ironically, these sections of strata law are among the very few that carry penalties for breaches. So how do you pursue a landlord who hasn't ticked all the boxes?
“If an owners' corporation or tenant believes a provision of the Act has been breached by a landlord, they can lodge a written complaint with NSW Fair Trading,” a spokesperson for Fair Trading told us. “Fair Trading will work to help the parties to reach a resolution or may investigate and take disciplinary action against the party who committed the breach.
“Issues relating to enforcement of by-laws are being considered as part of the review of the strata and community title laws.”
While we wait for the laws to be re-written, strata complexes can always put together a "welcome pack" that includes the by-laws, and tell agents that legally they must pass it on to tenants.
And Owners' Corps have another stick with which to beat rogue landlords. There's more on this here in the Flat Chat Forum. You can find the law of handing over the by-laws by going here and clicking on item 46 in the menu on the left while the section on notifying the Owners Corp about leases is item 119.