Tenants’ rights and obligations in a Body Corporate Scheme – are they the same as lot owners? It’s a question we are often asked by both tenants and lot owners.
Do by-laws apply to tenants?
Tenants are considered “occupiers”, and the rules and regulations of the Scheme’s bylaws are applicable to both lot owners and occupiers.
In Qld, a tenant must be given a copy of the Schemes’ regulations and by-laws by the lessor (lot owner) or the lessor’s agent (property manager or leasing agent), when commencing a tenancy.
What kind of rules do tenants need to follow?
Every Scheme has their own set of bylaws, which are basically a set of rules used to control and manage common property areas, the body corporate assets, and the use of lots.
The bylaws, also applicable to tenants, generally include rules and regulations which are intended to improve the quality of life for all within the community.
As a tenant, you are entitled to live in peace and quiet, as are your neighbours.
- You are responsible for ensuring that loud, offensive or inappropriate noise is not coming from your apartment,
- There may be a specific “curfew” time when music or parties need to be shut down.
- If you have an approved pet, noise regulations might also be applicable
- The by-laws may contain details of the procedure to be followed to lodge a complaint about noise issues.
You may, or may not be entitled to keep a pet within your unit, depending on the by-laws.
It’s important to check this out before you enter into the Tenancy Agreement.
- Are pets totally banned?
- Are there certain types of pets allowed – eg: guide dogs?
- If pets are allowed, do you need to obtain Committee permission first, and are there particular conditions?
Most by-laws have specific regulations about use of common areas. These could include things like:
- Pools - rules on the use of the pool, including hours of use and supervision of children
- Parking – which parking bay(s) are allocated to your unit, and the use of visitor parking bays. There might also be reference to storage of goods in unit parking bays, parking in driveways and contractor parking.
- Washing – you will need to check if there’s any restrictions on hanging towels and washing over balcony railings.
- Gardens – there might be rules around creating gardens, or playing sports or games in common areas
The landlord is generally responsible for repairs and maintenance of the unit, and the tenant is responsible for keeping the place clean and tidy.
Financially, the tenant is obliged to pay the agreed rent on time, and the lessor is obliged to pay body corporate levies on time.
The obligations and rights of landlords and tenants are covered by the Residential Tenancies Authority – see https://www.rta.qld.gov.au/Renting/During-a-tenancy for further details.
We encourage all tenants and landlords to familiarise themselves with the RTA regulations, as these are quite different and separate to the rules and regulations relating to Scheme bylaws.
Interestingly many committees and lot owners believe that only lot owners are entitled to interact with the Committee. This is not actually true.
If a tenant wishes to discuss bylaw applicability or make a complaint about a breach of a bylaw, they have every right as an occupier to go through the normal Body Corporate communication channels to obtain the information and help they need.
However, we generally recommend that the issue be raised with the lessor or lessor’s agent first and allow them to represent your concerns to the Committee. If the issue is ignored, then follow the body corporate procedures for lodging a complaint to the Committee.
What is most important when living in a strata community is to get to know your obligations and rights. Everyone is entitled to a quiet and harmonious place to live, and respecting your neighbours, whether they be lot owners or tenants, is the first step to receiving consideration in return.