What Right Does a Strata Corporation Have to Access and Individual Lot Owner's Unit?



The strata management legislation confers power on an owners corporation to enter any part of the parcel in order to perform a variety of types of work. This work can include work that the corporation is required to perform under the legislation, or by a public authority or where the corporation has been ordered to perform work by a tribunal. Owners often reverse a strata scheme's request for access to a lot for the purposes of undertaking work on the lot or common property associated with the lot.

There are two broad categories under the legislation where the owners corporation can gain access to a lot for such purposes, including obtaining quotes and ascertaining the extents of the work required. The first is in an emergency. The strata scheme can enter a lot at any time without notice in case of an emergency. If a person obstructs or hinders the owners corporation from gaining access, there could be local court proceedings against them. There are, however, no reported cases dealing with the meaning of obstruction or hinder, only cases dealing with this issue in a 'non-strata' context. These cases say that it means 'to stand in the way of, oppose the progress of, make difficult the passage of, hinder, impede, retard, delay, withstand or stop'. The offer is also not limited to physical construction.

In non-urgent situation, the owners representative can enter the lot with the consent of the occupier or in accordance with an order of an adjudicator. The owners corporation should issue a Notice of Access to the lot occupier. If consent is refused and mediation is unsuccessful an application for an access order should be made to the adjudicator. It is important that the Notice of Access is issued promptly because the adjudicator will take between one and three months to make the order. An occupier may still refuse access even after receiving the adjudicator's order in which case there are two methods of enabling access under the Act which are to instigate proceedings at the tribunal seeking to the have the occupier penalized for failure to obey the order. The other alternative is to seek to have the occupier prosecuted at the Local Court, where the maximum penalty is 2 penal units.

Also, it is necessary to note that the owner's corporation is liable for any damage to a lot or its contents when carrying out work or when accessing a lot, unless the damage occurred when access was being obstructed or hindered.

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Source by David A Coleman

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