In 2015, I co-authored and submitted to Landgate a paper titled “Strata Title and Sustainability Infrastructure in Western Australia” that, among other things, discussed barriers to people installing sustainability infrastructure (such as solar panels) under existing strata title laws and provided some ideas as to how these barriers may be removed.
The paper was submitted in response to a review of strata title being undertaken by Landgate and proposed reforms to strata title generally.
One of the biggest barriers we identified in our paper was that technically the existing Act does not permit a lot owner to install solar panels unless the strata company grants the owner an ‘exclusive use by-law’.
An ‘exclusive use by-law’ would incur unnecessary registration fees and time delays. It would also need to be passed by a ‘resolution without dissent’ meaning that only one other owner could oppose the solar panels (including for ulterior motives) and the resolution would fail.
It appears likely that the reforms to strata title will address the issue of sustainability infrastructure both in relation to strata title and proposed new community title. There are currently two bills before the Parliament of Western Australia to reform strata title and introduce community title.
Among other things, the bills propose doing two significant things:
- allow a strata company to grant a lease, licence or other right over the common property for the purpose of sustainability infrastructure; and
- allow a third party (such as an electricity retailer) to install and own sustainability infrastructure on the common property and presumably, sell the electricity to the lot owners and to the strata company.
The bills are still being debated in the Parliament, so they have not yet passed into law. Whatever the outcome, we are glad to have been part of the reforms.