Solar Panels - a change to the external appearance
A recent client email - I just wanted to let you know that I have put my property on the market. I have only had one open and have an offer already. The lady who has made the offer, has requested to be able to put solar panels on the roof. She would also like to look at putting in a small plunge pool in the far back corner
The pool is not attached to a unit or structure as such does not require corporation approval, it is a matter between the owner and the council to ensure that it is appropriately fenced and complies with their requirements.
The solar panels being attached to the building require a special resolution under Section 29 of the Strata Titles Act 1988:
29—Alterations and additions
(1) Subject to subsection (1a), a person must not carry out prescribed work in relation to a unit unless the person is authorised to do so—
(a) where all of the units comprised in the strata scheme consist of non-residential premises—under the articles of the strata corporation; or
(b) in any case—by special resolution of the strata corporation.
(1a) Subsection (1) does not apply to prescribed work carried out in compliance with a direction under section 23 of the Housing Improvement Act 1940.
(2) Where a person acts in contravention of this section, the strata corporation may, by notice in writing to the unit holder, require him or her to carry out, within a reasonable period fixed in the notice, specified work—
(a) to remedy any structural deficiency caused by the work; or
(b) to restore the unit to its previous state.
(6) In this section— prescribed work in relation to a unit means—
(a) the erection, alteration, demolition or removal of a building or structure;
(b) the alteration of the external appearance of a building or structure.
The idea is that owners seek the special resolution in advance of making a change to the external appearance of a unit or structure.
This section of the Act applies to any changes to the unit such as change of colour or additions like blinds, air-conditioners and solar panels (which are the most common ones we come across).
Corporations can set blanket rules allowing for all owners to do something – ie, all units may install a split-system air-conditioner on the proviso that the external motor be located at the rear of the unit and any conduit be colour matched to the brickwork.
These rules can be as rigid or as flexible as you as owners want them to be and should be recorded for the life of the corporation upon a resolution sheet which is included within the information provided to prospective purchasers within the searches carried out by the sales agent.
The resolutions previously passed by this corporation granted approval for solar panels as follows:
It was resolved by Special Resolution that all owners be approved to install solar panels at their own expense, including all future costs for repair or replacement .. All such works must be advised to the Body Corporate Manager prior to commencement, and all works must be carried out by a licensed or registered builder. All modifications or additions must not be visible from the street without a Special Resolution of the Corporation members.
Having such a resolution in place allows that the prospective purchaser can then proceed with the installation inline with the previously passed resolution and an application to the corporation is only required should the owner wish to deviate from the approval.
We certainly recommend being organised with getting prior approval for possible changes to the building ahead of when you need them. It is frustrating for all parties when you wish to proceed with an installation such as an air-conditioner when you’re hot only to be told that a meeting needs to be called and you will need to pay for the meeting fee for your application.
Your body corporate manager can help advise you further on this and ensure that any proposed special resolutions required are listed on the agenda for the Annual General Meeting on your behalf where there is no expense to you.