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WA opens door for sustainability retrofits under new strata law reforms

WA opens door for sustainability retrofits under new strata law reforms
Liv apartments, imagE: DHA

It’s now far easier to install sustainability features such as solar panels on the roofs of apartment blocks in Western Australia thanks to recent changes to the state’s strata laws.

With the recent inclusion of Section 64 in the Strata Titles Act 1985 (WA), much of the hassle has been taken out of getting approval from strata companies to install sustainability and utility infrastructure on common property.

Before the reforms, several regulatory barriers prevented sustainability retrofits in strata buildings. For example, if someone wanted to put PV panels on the roof they needed permission from everyone in the building.

Now, only 50 per cent of lot owners in the strata building need to agree to install this type of infrastructure, or to allow an individual lot to do so.

Another key change is that sustainability infrastructure arrangements are now short form easements. This will avoid any need for an exclusive use bylaw or plan to be registered at Landgate, reducing the potential cost of installation and paving the way for existing unlawful installations to be made legal.

Strata companies will also now enter into “infrastructure contracts”, which set out who owns the infrastructure and the areas of the property to which the easement applies.

The owner of the infrastructure now also has various rights over the common property, including access to the land to install, remove, operate, repair and inspect the infrastructure. 

The WA government has been reviewing strata title legislation for a number of years in the interests of providing its growing population with affordable and sustainable housing options. 

“By 2031, WA will be home to more than 3.5 million people and we need to prepare for the increased demand for affordable and sustainable housing – including more cost-effective urban infill developments and community living options,” then Landgate chief executive Mike Bradford said in 2015.

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Justice Legal director Tristan Cockman and head of Green Gurus Chiara Pacifici submitted a paper to Landgate in 2015 recommending the statutory authority to address the various issues facing owners wanting to do sustainability upgrades to their properties.

Ms Pacifici said the reforms were “innovative, fair and considered” and that both her and Mr Cockman’s recommendations had been adequately taken into account.

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