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Owners’ Corporation Law

09 Sep 2020

COVID Q&A: Private renovations, cladding rectifications and nuisance from pets

By Tom Bacon - Principal, Strata Title Lawyers

Question: The apartment next door to me is being renovated during COVID-19 …

The builders are there all day banging on their tools and using their power tools. Maybe this wouldn’t be a problem during normal times, but myself and my partner are working from home, with our toddler. The building manager says the renovations may proceed because the works started before Stage 4. What can we do?

Answer: A lot within a residential tower is not permitted to undertake renovations, unless the entire residential tower is vacated for the tradespeople and builders to undertake their works during the period of Stage 4 restrictions.

Therefore, the building manager is incorrect, and it does not matter that the renovations started before the Stage 4 lockdowns.

At present, trades people and builders can only enter the building and attend a lot to make emergency repairs. More information can be found about this at the Department of Jobs, Precincts and Regions website.

Question: In the building where I rent, we are having cladding rectification works done. One entire side of the façade is covered in scaffolding, and builders are on site carrying out cladding rectification works while people are still living inside. Is this legal and do I have to let them into my apartment to do works?

Answer: Cladding rectification works have been classified as permitted by the Victorian Government during Stage 4. As such, the building works on the neighbouring building may continue, even with residents still living in the building.

Cladding Safety Victoria (CSV) has a COVIDSafe Plan in place and all staff and contractors on authorised sites are required to have a permit under the state government’s permit scheme. The contractors are also required to have their own COVIDSafe Plan.

The COVIDSafe Plan includes requirements for hygiene and face coverings on site, physical distancing, precautions around shared facilities and the use of shared tools, plant and equipment and the use of personal protective equipment (PPE).

The contractors are only entering apartments where the occupier has given their consent and it is safe and absolutely necessary to do so. The contractors are also ensuring that workers wear appropriate PPE when they carry out this work in line with a COVIDSafe Plan.

For buildings with construction works underway, workers are required to maintain appropriate physical distancing on worksites, as is the case with all construction sites

Question: There is a dog that is kept on the balcony above my apartment. It barks and howls frequently during the day and seems distressed. How do I escalate this with the owners’ corporation (OC), as my emails and phone calls are ignored?

Answer: Under the model rules for an OC, there are restrictions placed on all owners and occupiers to not make unreasonable noise and nuisance which is likely to interfere with the peaceful enjoyment of other owners and occupiers.

Your particular building may also have registered other specific rules that might deal with dogs and pets.

In any event, the next step is to make a complaint to the OC using the approved form downloaded from the Consumer Affairs website. The committee of the OC will then be required to decide about whether to hold a grievance committee meeting to seek to resolve the matter with the occupier of the lot that owns the dog. Otherwise the committee could decide that it will not do anything about the noise and nuisance. The committee must give notice to you that it has decided to do nothing about the complaint. If it does, then you are able to take this to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) to seek a formal order in respect of the barking dog and the resulting nuisance •

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