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Changing the appearance of a lot – does changing tiles on a balcony need Body Corporate approval?

Generally, the CMS for any scheme will have a by law that is consistent with the following:

Appearance of Lot

The occupier of a lot must not, without the body corporate’s written approval, make a change to the external appearance of the lot unless the change is minor and does not detract from the amenity of the lot and its surrounds.

While the wording may not be an exact match, the intent of the by law remains that an external change to the appearance of the lot must not be carried out unless approval in writing from the committee has been received.

In addition to this, the Act imposes a duty on bodies corporate to enforce its by laws by going through the breach notice process.

In this months Adjudicators Order, we look at a case where a Lot Owner was ordered to, within 3 months of the order being made, remove the grey tiles on the terrace of the lot and install tiles of a colour and layout that are consistent with the external tiles on other balconies and terraces in the scheme and have been approved by the body corporate.

We look into the background of the issue and, through submissions that were made by the respondent and other owners in the complex, it was noted that originally the 2 lots with the terraces had grey marine carpet installed by the builders, the other lot when replacing their carpet with tiles had sought approval from the body corporate and the respondent at the time was encouraged to do the same, the respondent had decided to wait until her carpet was more worn.

When the respondent later on pulled up her carpet, as it was flapping and had signs of mould, she was advised by the Body Corporate that permission to do this should also have been sought as it was a change to the external appearance of the lot and the terrace needed to be tiled. After being unable to match the tiles with those on the other unit the respondent proceeded to tile using a grey tile as what had been there previously was a grey marine carpet and believed that this was fair.

It was noted from the submissions made that numerous complaints had been made to the body corporate as they can be seen from all other lots and detract from the amenity of the complex – a breach of the by laws.

The Adjudicator noted:

“In any event, even if the change in appearance was minor (and I am satisfied it was not), from the submitted material, I consider the appearance of the grey tiles detracts from the amenity of the scheme. The lot 3 terrace tiles are harmonious with the colour scheme of tiles on the edge of the terrace and on the balconies of lots above. By contrast, they grey tiles installed by the respondent are visually discordant in respect of their colour, pattern and layout”

As such, the order was made that the owner remove the grey tiles and replace with tiles of a colour and layout consistent with the external tiles on other balconies and terraces and approved by the Body Corporate.

The Adjudicator, conscious of the cost of replacing the tiles, noted:

“I appreciate that this outcome, including cost of replacing the tiles on her terrace, will be frustrating for the respondent. However, in view of the submitted material, I consider this situation has arisen because of her own disregard of the by laws, communications from the body corporate, and her obligations as the owner of a lot in a community titles scheme. The respondent should be aware that if she fails to comply with this order, it could be enforced against her in the Magistrates Court”

The full order can be read here.

If you are looking to make improvements to your lot, head to our online request form to start the process.