A member asked over 7 years ago

Residential building improvement works disruption

I have allergies to everyday paint products. Although I can be around certain allergy friendly paints that are low in VOC, I am quite sensitive to most. I was advised two days before they were due to commence that the building manager was having the building that I live in repainted. The paint they will use will likely mean that I cannot live in the building, given my allergies. Despite attempts to request a change of product, the originally chosen paint will be used and I have been advised that it will take up to ten weeks until the work is totally complete. I have only moved into this residence 4 weeks ago and do not have any other living options. What are my rights? How can I minimise the impact that this will have on me?

Law Advisor Research Team
Researchers at LawAdvisor

Hi there. In NSW, the law says that an owners corporation has the principal responsibility for managing the complex in which you live (called a strata scheme). The owners corporation must manage and control the use of the common property and administer the strata scheme for the benefit of lot owners. This means that the owners corporation (via its management committee) should make decisions, including those relating to improvement works, for the benefit of all owners. It is possible that, as an individual lot owner, you have a right to challenge decisions of the owners corporation that do not benefit you. You would need to obtain legal advice on the exact nature of your rights, but in the meantime, there are practical steps you can take to resolve your dispute.

You should first consult the by-laws that govern your strata scheme. These by-laws will tell you how to lodge a complaint with the owners corporation and what dispute resolution process must be followed. The law in NSW requires a resident and an owner’s corporation to resolve a dispute between them in accordance with the by-laws before escalating the matter.

If you are unable to reach an agreement on alternative arrangements for the improvement works, your next step is to undergo mediation. NSW Fair Trading (www.fairtrading.nsw.gov.au) offers free mediation services to lot owners and owners corporations. An independent third party, called a mediator, helps the parties discuss their concerns and try to reach an agreed outcome. If you find a solution to your problem, you can put it in writing at the end of the mediation.

If you are unable to reach an agreed outcome during mediation, you can file an application with the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal (www.ncat.nsw.gov.au). The Tribunal is a specialist, low cost tribunal capable of resolving a dispute between a lot owner and an owners corporation. Unlike mediation, the decision of the Tribunal will be binding and both parties must follow the Tribunal’s orders. You do not need a lawyer to make an application, but you may want to seek legal advice before doing so.

Suggested way forward

There are practical steps you can take to try to resolve your current legal problem. You should consider speaking to a lawyer who will help you understand your legal rights and the best way forward. By pressing the “Consult a Lawyer” button, LawAdvisor can help you search for experienced lawyers and obtain fee proposals for their services. Costs for legal advice and representation will vary between providers based on experience and the scope of services.

Answered over 7 years ago   Legal disclaimer


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