What is a by law? Who decides what by-laws are required? How to change.

What is a by-law?

Technically speaking, strata by laws are a set of rules and regulations that govern the management and conduct of owners and residents within a strata scheme. The by-laws are established at the time the strata plan is first registered, and can differ, community to community.

By-laws outline the rights, obligations and responsibilities of owners, occupiers, and visitors when at the property. But more than this, by-laws set the expectations of the community, and help people to understand lifestyle factors of living in a particular building.

For example, a building may have strict requirements for what items can be on a balcony, which would indicate an expectation of adherence to appearances. Others may have a more ‘green’ friendly view, and allow people to hang items from balconies. Checking these type of details, and understanding them, before you move into an apartment will help you to choose a building that fits your own lifestyle expectations.

What do by laws cover?


  1. Use of common property: By-laws often define the permitted uses of common areas such as gardens, pools, parking lots, and recreational facilities. They may specify rules for noise levels, behaviour, operational times and the number of guests allowed in these areas.

  2. Maintenance and repairs: By-laws can outline responsibilities for maintenance and repairs, specifying who is responsible for different elements such as windows, balconies, and plumbing.

  3. Pets: By-laws commonly regulate the keeping of pets within the strata scheme. They may specify the types of pets allowed, any size or breed restrictions, and requirements for pet owners to clean up after their animals.

  4. Noise and nuisance: By-laws often include provisions to address noise and nuisance issues, ensuring residents maintain an acceptable level of noise and refrain from activities that may disturb others within the strata scheme.

  5. Renovations and alterations: By-laws can outline the approval process and any restrictions for renovations or alterations to individual units. They may cover aspects such as structural changes, changes to appearance, and the need to notify neighbouring owners.

  6. Behaviour and conduct: By-laws may include provisions to promote harmonious living and prevent disruptive behaviour within the strata scheme. They may cover issues such as harassment, illegal activities, and parking violations.

  7. Parking and vehicle management: By-laws commonly address parking regulations, including allocation of parking spaces, visitor parking, and enforcement of parking rules such as displaying permits or managing unauthorized vehicles.

  8. Waste disposal and recycling: By-laws can outline requirements for waste management and recycling within the strata scheme, specifying the use of bins, collection schedules, and any additional guidelines.

  9. Security and access: By-laws may cover security measures, such as the use of key cards, intercom systems, or security cameras. They may also address issues related to access control and visitor management.

It’s important to note that these examples are not exhaustive, and strata by-laws can vary depending on the specific strata scheme. Each strata scheme has its own by-laws, which are registered and available for reference by all owners and residents within the scheme. If you require information about the specific by-laws of a particular strata scheme, it’s best to consult the registered by-laws for that scheme.

Restrictions on By laws


There are certain restrictions on by-laws in New South Wales (NSW) to ensure they are fair, reasonable, and consistent with the law. The Strata Schemes Management Act 2015 (SSMA) and the Strata Schemes Management Regulation 2016 provide guidelines and limitations on the content of by-laws in NSW. Here are some key restrictions:

  1. Inconsistency with the law: By-laws cannot contradict or override any laws or regulations in force in NSW. They must be in compliance with all relevant legislation, including the SSMA, planning laws, and building codes.

  2. Unreasonableness: By-laws must be reasonable and not unfairly restrict the rights and freedoms of owners and residents. A by-law that is considered oppressive, harsh, or unconscionable may be deemed invalid.

  3. Discrimination: By-laws must not discriminate against individuals or groups based on characteristics such as race, sex, disability, religion, or any other protected attribute. They must adhere to anti-discrimination laws.

  4. Restriction on voting rights: By-laws cannot restrict or interfere with an owner’s voting rights in the owners’ corporation. All owners must have equal rights to participate and vote in the decision-making process.

  5. Prohibition of pets: While by-laws can regulate the keeping of pets, an outright prohibition on pets is generally not enforceable. By-laws may impose reasonable conditions or restrictions on pet ownership, but a blanket ban is likely to be invalid.

  6. Restriction on selling or leasing: By-laws cannot unreasonably restrict an owner’s ability to sell or lease their unit. Any restrictions on selling or leasing must be justifiable and within the bounds of reasonableness.

  7. Improper purpose: By-laws must not be created for an improper purpose or be used to harass or unfairly target specific owners or residents.


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