With the mercury breaking records across Australia this summer, an air conditioner pumping out ice cold air into your bedroom or living area is a very attractive proposition. However, being in a communal strata scheme provides its own challenges if you wish to install a new unit in your apartment.
Section 110 of the Strata Schemes Management Act 2015 allows for minor renovations – an air conditioner would be classified as a minor renovation. This clause would be sufficient if the whole unit was placed inside your apartment – but often components such as the inverter or condenser are installed externally. As installation of the entire unit requires alterations to common property and may affect the external appearance of your lot, permission needs to be granted.
Owners corporations through a special resolution may wish to consider passing a by-law that allows owners to install an air conditioner providing they meet certain criteria. If your strata scheme doesn’t currently have a by-law relating to air conditioners then approval to install the unit would have to be agreed at a General Meeting or Annual General Meeting – this would require the drafting of a special by-law for that singular request. If a standard all-compassing by-law was passed, then potentially permission may only have to be granted at a Strata Committee meeting – making the process much quicker and easier.
Applications to install a new unit should generally include the brand, details of the installer, where you’re going to install the unit and its dimensions.
If your request is rejected by the Strata Committee, always seek to understand why they came to that decision – especially if you believe that you provided the committee with all the appropriate documentation and you adhered to the requirements of the by-law. If you believe the rejection is unreasonable, you can make an application to the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal.
When selecting a unit, it’s important to take into account that you’re living in a communal environment. Noise is a significant factor – ensure the unit is quiet. If a neighbour complains that your unit is disturbing the enjoyment of their apartment, then you may be required to remove it. Strata schemes may wish to document acceptable noise levels in the by-law. Some units may generate water so it’s important to consider drainage.
Needless to say, energy efficient air conditioners should always be the preference.
Once the standalone unit is installed, the apartment owner is responsible for its maintenance – even though some of the parts may reside on common property.
Rather than everyone in the scheme installing individual units, another option could be installing a ducted system through the entire building. The installation and maintenance would be centrally managed by the Strata Committee. This may work out to be more cost effective and the external appearance of the building may present better.
If you have any questions about the installation of an air conditioning unit, contact your Strata Manager at Netstrata.