Living by the Rules

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Each apartment building has a set of rules that residents must abide by. These rules referred to as by-laws which govern and set out aspects of how an apartment building is run. For instance, it states what types of pets residents can keep, noise restrictions/disturbing other residents and what minor renovations are permitted. All residents, whether an owner or tenant, must abide by the by-laws for the building. The by-laws must also be included in sales contracts and leasing agreements with tenants.


The by-laws are established when the apartment building is built and the developer of the property determines the rules for the building. Once the building is occupied and the owners have settled into the property, they may decide that some of the by-laws need amending or that additional by-laws are necessary to assist with the successful running of the property. This may be that pets for example, may have not been permitted, however the owners decide that they now wish to allow pets. Any change of the by-laws must be put to a general meeting of the owners and each owner may vote. Any change must be decided upon with a special resolution and it is passed if no more than 25% of the owners vote against the change.

The most common breaches of by-laws by residents occur in relation to the parking of motor vehicles where they are not permitted, for instance the driveway or allocated visitors area. Community living can also derive instances of noise annoyance to neighbours, as people are living in such close proximity with each other. Smoke disturbance from cigarettes is also becoming more of an issue. Although someone can’t be restricted to legally do what they like in their apartment, if this is causing a problem for others, there are legislative mechanisms to address this problem.


The government publishes a set of recommended by-laws that developers can adopt for a development. However, it is common that these by-laws are added to and amended to suit each particular development, as building layout and complexity can differ greatly. The developer usually consults with a strata management firm in the development phase to obtain advice on appropriate by-laws. A purchaser can obtain the by-laws which are relevant to the property from either the sales contract or by requesting a copy from the strata manager, by completing this form. 

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