Overcrowding in strata properties – when more is not merry

As more people choose strata or body corporate living in cities, overcrowding is a growing concern. Let’s explore why it’s an issue and what you can do to enhance the quality of strata living.

 

About 15% of Australia’s population lives in strata properties as documented by the Australian National Strata Data 2018 report. As more people opt for smaller living spaces in cities, one of the key challenges is how to deal with overcrowding in strata properties.

When multiple owners co-own common property, too many people sharing the same resources and amenities can affect the quality of strata living. Let’s explore the key issues with overcrowding:

How many is too many in strata properties?

The impact of overcrowding may vary from one property to another. Determining the optimum number of occupiers per apartment is tricky as this could depend on various criteria such as:

  • The state laws on occupancy limit and the owners corporation’s authority: In most states, the legislation is not clear on the matter and by-laws can only do so much. Owners corporations are authorised to enter a private property to get scheduled work done or to inspect exclusive use common property, but they can do so with seven days prior written notice to the owner and occupiers. However, this provision does not cover inspections for potential overcrowding and owners corporations aren’t empowered to take hard actions.
  • The size of the property and living space: Larger apartments may allow for comfortable sharing of space amongst a larger group. However, if your strata property has smaller apartments and studios, they become congested and uncomfortable.
  • Relation of occupiers with each other: Often, people live not only with spouses, partners, dependent family members but also share apartments with housemates, care-givers, short-term holiday guests, or overnight partying friends. So, owners corporations cannot restrict who stays in an apartment, in what capacity and for how long.

How to tackle overcrowding in strata?

Your by-laws and rules are your first point of reference. They apply to all owners and occupants equally, to ensure strata living is fair and enjoyable for all. Ignoring your committee’s warnings repeatedly or breaching by-laws can mean fines and penalties from the Tribunal.

You should note that while your strata by-laws can recommend the ideal number of occupants, it’s difficult to monitor and restrict adults from sharing rooms or discriminate between residents, their partners, care-givers or family members.

So, if your by-laws are unclear or appear to be unfair, unreasonable or discriminatory, you can file a motion to have them amended at an AGM through a special resolution with majority vote.

PICA Group note: If you’re looking to rent out your property or use it for Airbnb-type short-term holiday, lets make sure you provide a copy of your by-laws and rules to your tenants and guests.

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