It is an uncertain time for everyone with the rapid increase of COVID-19 infections and government restrictions. To slow the spread of the virus, the protective measures may last up to six (6) months. There may also be further restrictions. Such measures have a momentous impact on those who live in a strata complex.
Due to the rise of high density living, more and more people are living in strata buildings where resources, assets and facilities are shared. This means that strata residents have higher risk of exposure to virus. Think of how many people touch lift buttons, the stair rail and entrance door handles. This is an unfortunate reality for many, which can be extremely difficult to avoid. Social distancing is almost impossible in high rise lifts.
Where there is someone that lives or works in the building, or even someone who has visited the building, has a confirmed case of COVID-19 or has been asked to self-isolate, there may be an obligation for the strata corporation to notify the building residents. This can be easily done by sending out notices and placing further notices in the common areas. For privacy reasons owners corporations cannot disclose the name, the unit number or any other information which might identify the person(s) who has contracted the virus or is required to self-isolate.
2. Repair and Maintenance
Owners corporations are responsible, under the Strata Schemes Management Act 2015 (NSW), to repair and maintain common property. In doing so, owners corporations should be proactive and take the necessary precautions to ensure the building is safe and protect their residents from the risk of the virus spreading. Where possible, these include:
- closing amenity rooms;
- closing recreational facilities;
- increasing cleaning and sanitisation protocols in the building;
- installing sanitisation stations, if possible;
- encouraging residents to use proper hygiene measures and to self-isolate; and
- restricting meetings.
3. Health and Safety for workers
Where a contractor is working on site, owners corporations have legal obligation to upkeep the health and safety of the workplace. This includes taking the necessary precautions to protect workers from harm, including the risk of contracting COVID-19.
4. Restrict AGM, EGM and other meetings
Recently, the government has implemented strict social distancing rules which include:
- all persons should be at least 1.5 metres apart;
- there should only be 1 person per 4 sqm indoor; and
- public gatherings must be avoided altogether.
With such strict measures, this limits the ability for owners corporations to hold general meetings. If a meeting must be held and approvals are required, you should consider:
- holding an electronic meeting (video conferencing), where possible;
- asking every owner to sign a waiver to waive the requirement to hold a meeting and consent to the resolutions at the resolutions of the meeting; or
- holding the meeting but ensure it is held at a venue which accommodates for the current social distancing rules (outdoor space) but this would only be possible for smaller body corporates.
We recommend that you seek legal advice before deciding whether or not to hold a meeting.
It is important to be fully aware of your obligations and options during these difficult times. If you would like further information, please do not hesitate to contact one of our experienced strata law solicitors on 9963 9800 or via our contact form.
More information about COVID-19 can be found here: www.health.gov.au