The COVID-19 crisis is providing company title buildings with a ‘unique’ experience. Most shareholders and residents are working from home and cannot leave their unit, other than for an essential reason. This means, that your building is likely to become a busier place, with more shareholders and occupants residing in the building and frequenting common areas.

Naturally, the increased usage of the building is likely to give rise to issues. People are now at home, which means issues relating to increased usage are likely to come to the forefront.

Now is the ideal time to focus on some simple ‘housekeeping’ for your building to ensure your building has strong measures in place to deal with any issues and disputes.

Incorporating House Rules into your company title building

Now is the time to ensure that your building has a strong set of ‘House Rules’.

House Rules govern the day-to-day conduct of shareholders and residents. Once properly passed by a board resolution, the House Rules become a legally enforceable document and can be relied upon to compel a Shareholder to ‘do the right thing’. You can read our short article here which explains the benefits of House Rules. Our House Rules also attach a Licence to Occupy and a Renovations Deed.

It is more important than ever, that your building has a strong set of House Rules, to ensure that if any issues arise amongst shareholders and residents, the company can take all reasonable steps to resolve the dispute efficiently and amicably.

Likely issues to arise in your building

We anticipate the following ‘live issues’ are likely arising in your building:

  • Rubbish and Waste – Shareholders and occupants are likely to accumulate more rubbish and waste with the extra time at home. This can give rise to the incorrect disposal of rubbish, the obstruction of common property and increased pest issues.
  • Noise – There are likely to be more issues relating to noise transference. Shareholders and occupants are at home, which naturally leads to an increase in complaints relating to loud music, or noise transmission from neighbouring units. This can be especially annoying for those who are trying to work from home during this time.
  • Pets – Like humans, pets are also likely to be impacted by the COVID-19 crisis, particularly where their owners are in self-quarantine or isolation. Pets are likely to become anxious during this period of disruption. They may exhibit increased barking, leading to further noise transference issues.
  • Renovations – Some shareholders may see this opportunity as a good time to renovate their apartment – right when there are more people around the building, with some trying to do quiet work. It’s essential that the company is adequately protected and has provisions in place for ‘major renovations’.
  • Common areas – It’s important that all common areas are regulated. Depending on the type of building, it may be a good idea to temporarily close off common areas.

On 31 March 2020, the NSW Government issued a Public Health Order that restricts people from leaving their residential premises, unless there is a reasonable excuse. The Order also seeks to restrict gatherings in ‘public places’ to just two people.

Whilst, common property in a company title building cannot be classified as a ‘public place’, it is necessary to interpret the intent of the Public Health Order, which is to reduce the COVID-19 contagion. The highly contagious nature of COVID-19 and its potentially fatal consequences has been widely communicated to all members of our society.

A common sense approach should be applied to the use of common areas whilst also embracing the intent of the Public Health Order.

How can you action this?

Now is the time to seek our advice and incorporate House Rules into your company title building. The process is simple and relatively inexpensive.

  1. We will review your Articles of Association/Constitution to ensure that the board have the power to make Regulations.
  2. We will consult closely with you to ensure that the House Rules are specifically tailored to your building.
  3. We will draft a notice and agenda for a virtual meeting of the board of directors or a circular resolution of the board of directors. This final step will give legal effect to the House Rules.
  4. We will draft an ‘Information Statement’ to be distributed to all shareholders and residents. The purpose of the Information Statement is to inform shareholders of the new Rules. Ultimately, awareness will result in compliance and a communal building.

What to do next

Call John or Mariam to help you implement a balances and effective set of House Rules:

  • John Morrissey on 0407 069 507 or
  • Mariam Chalak on 0410 914 128

Both John and Mariam have transitioned to work arrangements that will ensure they remain available to help you through these times.

If you would rather get in contact through email, send your questions through to Mariam at mariam.chalak@jfmlaw.com.au.