Fire Safety Advice as Lithium Battery Fires Spike in Units

Caution as Lithium Batteries the Fastest Growing Fire Risk in NSW Units

The message from Fire and Rescue NSW (FRNSW) regarding the rise of lithium-ion battery-related fires across NSW is ‘be alert, cautious and proactive’.

It’s important that strata managers, strata committees and strata residents understand the fire risks related with lithium-ion batteries and to be prepared if things go wrong.

FRNSW has Published these Statistics

  • 63 lithium-ion battery fires so far this year
  • An average of 5.7 blazes per week
  • Of those, there have been 2 deaths and 7 people injured
  • On 14 March, 4 injuries occurred on that day, including due to a faulty battery discarded in a garbage bin that later ignited in a rubbish truck
  • During 2023 injuries rose from 14 to 38 and have continued to rise
  • In 2023, lithium-ion battery fires increased by 60% on the previous year

Sydney’s East Most Notable E-bike Fire Incidence

The most notable incident was in Sydney’s east in the highly dense suburb of North Bondi in late January 2024, with a faulty e-bike battery was left to charge overnight in a bedroom, and ignited, sparking a fire.

The four occupants were awoken at 4am by an explosion, and a fire alarm sounding, and luckily all escaped just in time, but one required treatment for a burn.

Lithium-ion batteries can be found in many household appliances and portable electronic-devices not only in e-bikes and e-scooters however with the increase of e-vehicles this has been the main cause for the increase in lithium battery fires.

FRNSW has expressed that greater awareness and education is needed about how to select, use, charge, store, and dispose of lithium-ion batteries, to reduce the risk of fire.

Important Proacative Safety Advice

  • Never sleep or leave your home while lithium-ion batteries, or devices powered by them, are still charging
  • Disconnect them from the charger once charged
  • Avoid charging or storing them near exits and near flammable materials
  • Never dispose of them in your rubbish, bins or recycling bins
  • Used lithium-ion batteries can be taken to your nearest BCycle battery recycling drop-off point, often located in major retailers and supermarkets
  • It’s important to always buy lithium-ion batteries and chargers from reputable brands and refrain from mixing different components
  • You should have an e-bike/e-scooter by-law in place to manage residents and fire safety
  • For more information visit FRNSW Lithium-ion Battery Safety
  • If such a fire occurs, evacuate immediately, and call 000


REDUCE THE RISK OF BATTERY FIRE WITH A E-SCOOTER / E-BIKE BY-LAW


Adrian Mueller Partner JS Mueller & Co Lawyers specialising in Strata Law

Adrian Mueller I BCOM LLB FACCAL I Partner

Since 2002 Adrian has specialised almost exclusively in the area of strata law. His knowledge of, and experience in strata law is second to none. He is the youngest person to have been admitted as a Fellow of the ACSL, the peak body for strata lawyers in Australia. Profile I Linked

Contact Us

For all strata law advice including by-laws, building defects and levy collections contact our specialist NSW and Sydney strata lawyers here or call 02 9562 1266, we’re happy to assist.




Short Term Letting Players Agree to a NSW Tourism Levy

Is there a need to update your short-term letting by-law?

Major players, Airbnb and Stayz, in the short term rental accommodation (STRA) market have both committed to support the NSW government’s tourism levy by way of a formal submission.

However, both players are calling for all tourism accommodation operators including hotels to also foot the new tax.

The NSW government’s review of STRA is in response to growing calls for stricter regulations on the burgeoning short-term rental market, which has faced criticism for its impact on housing affordability and local communities.

The levy is structured to ensure that larger operators, who derive substantial income from short-term rentals, contribute their fair share to the local economy. At the same time, it aims to minimize the impact on small-scale operators and homeowners who rent out their properties occasionally.

For more information: Airbnb and Stayz Accept Tourism Levy for Holiday Stays


DO YOU NEED TO UPDATE YOUR SHORT TERM RENTAL BY-LAW?


Adrian Mueller Partner JS Mueller & Co Lawyers specialising in Strata Law

Adrian Mueller I BCOM LLB FACCAL I Partner

Since 2002 Adrian has specialised almost exclusively in the area of strata law. His knowledge of, and experience in strata law is second to none. He is the youngest person to have been admitted as a Fellow of the ACSL, the peak body for strata lawyers in Australia. Profile I Linked

Contact Us

For all strata law advice including by-laws, building defects and levy collections contact our specialist NSW and Sydney strata lawyers here or call 02 9562 1266, we’re happy to assist.




Strata Assistant Licence Qualifications Extended

Deadline for Assistant Strata Managers licence qualifications extended by 3 Months

The NSW Government has given assistant real estate agents and strata managers in NSW an additional three months to keep working while they register for professional qualifications.

The extension will avoid thousands of assistant agents being forced to leave the industry at a time when demand is at an all-time high and rapidly growing. It will also ensure that tenants and landlords, continue to receive essential property management services.

Back in March 2020 assistants were put on a four-year certificate period which is due to expire this month on 22 March 2024. They can now apply for a one-off extension from 1 March to 22 June 2024.

Assistant agents must be enrolled in either Certificate IV in Real Estate Practice (CPP41419) or Certificate IV in Strata Community Management (CPP40516 or CPP40521) to apply for this extension.

On the Spot Fines

On the spot fines of $1,100 from NSW Fair Trading or court issued fines of up to $11,000 will be issued should an agent fail to meet the deadline and continue working without the appropriate certificate.

Licensees in charge and employers who oversee and manage assistant agents without a registration will face the maximum penalty of $11,000.

More Information

Please visit  NSW Government Fair Trading for the following information:

  • Certificate of registration extension
  • How to apply
  • Fees
  • Statement of regulatory intent
  • Certificates expiring after 22 March 2024
  • Updating your details


Adrian Mueller Partner JS Mueller & Co Lawyers specialising in Strata Law

Adrian Mueller I BCOM LLB FACCAL I Partner

Since 2002 Adrian has specialised almost exclusively in the area of strata law. His knowledge of, and experience in strata law is second to none. He is the youngest person to have been admitted as a Fellow of the ACSL, the peak body for strata lawyers in Australia. Profile I Linked

Contact Us

For all strata law advice including by-laws, building defects and levy collections contact our specialist NSW and Sydney strata lawyers here or call 02 9562 1266, we’re happy to assist.




Webinar: Adrian Mueller Explains New Law Reforms

Adrian Mueller Explains the New Strata & Community Law Reforms?

Adrian Mueller talks ‘phase 1’ of the strata law reforms, and the amendments to the Strata Schemes Management Act 2015 (NSW) below, including:

  1. Transitional Period
  2. Strata Renewal Process
  3. Pets and Assistance Animals
  4. Committees
  5. Annual General Meetings
  6. Financial Management
  7. Notices and Record Keeping
  8. Lot 2 Schemes: Consolidation of By-laws & Complying with the Act, Managing Agents and Commissions


Adrian Muller Talks the New Strata Laws


DO YOUR BY-LAWS NEED UPDATING IN LINE WITH THE NEW LAWS?

Contact Us

For all strata law advice including by-laws, building defects and levy collections contact our specialist NSW and Sydney strata lawyers here or call 02 9562 1266, we’re happy to assist.




New Laws – Pet Owners in Strata Can Now Rest Easy!

Pets, By-laws and New Legislation

In December 2023 new strata laws commenced that changed the rules regarding pet ownership, including assistance animals, in strata buildings.

What do the new pet rules mean?

  • Any fees, bonds and insurances imposed by the owners corporation are now banned under the new legislation.
  • It’s also now easier for lot owners and tenants with assistance animals to prove their animal’s ‘assistance’ status with less loopholes to jump through.
  • Those new rules will result in some existing pets by-laws (or parts of them) being invalid and will need to be reviewed.

Pet By-laws will Need to be Reviewed!

 

 Therefore, it is time to get all pet by-laws reviewed to ensure they comply with the new laws.


CLICK NOW FOR A PET BY-LAW REVIEW IN LINE WITH THE NEW LAWS


Adrian Mueller Partner JS Mueller & Co Lawyers specialising in Strata Law

Adrian Mueller I BCOM LLB FACCAL I Partner

Since 2002 Adrian has specialised almost exclusively in the area of strata law. His knowledge of, and experience in strata law is second to none. He is the youngest person to have been admitted as a Fellow of the ACSL, the peak body for strata lawyers in Australia. Profile I Linked

Contact Us

For all strata law advice including by-laws, building defects and levy collections contact our specialist NSW and Sydney strata lawyers here or call 02 9562 1266, we’re happy to assist.




STRA Under the Microscope – Have Your Say!

Short-term Rental Policies Under Review

As the NSW Government grapples with the housing crisis across the state short-term rental accommodation (STRA) comes under the spotlight.

Policies and framework for STRA in NSW will be reviewed with the hope to unlock the supply of long-term and affordable accommodation.

As such, the NSW government is looking for community feedback on the recently released discussion paper which will form part of the comprehensive review of NSW STRA.

Have Your Say…

The survey completion deadline is 14 March 2024.

Review Your STRA By-laws

Do you need to review or update your current short-term rental accommodation (STRA) by-law? Speak to the STRA experts today!


Adrian Mueller Partner JS Mueller & Co Lawyers specialising in Strata Law

Adrian Mueller I BCOM LLB FACCAL I Partner

Since 2002 Adrian has specialised almost exclusively in the area of strata law. His knowledge of, and experience in strata law is second to none. He is the youngest person to have been admitted as a Fellow of the ACSL, the peak body for strata lawyers in Australia. Profile I Linked

Contact Us

For all strata law advice including by-laws, building defects and levy collections contact our specialist NSW and Sydney strata lawyers here or call 02 9562 1266, we’re happy to assist.




E-bikes and E-Scooters – Can You Ban Them?

Is it Possible to Ban E-bikes and E-scooters?

There have been a recent spate of fires in Sydney apartment buildings caused by the charging of e-bikes and e-scooters.  Those fires have resulted in a number of strata buildings introducing by-laws to ban or regulate e-bikes and e-scooters.  But is it possible to ban e-bikes and e-scooters?

An owners corporation has a broad power to make by-laws to manage, control and administer the use of the lots and common property in its building.  This enables an owners corporation to make a by-law that stipulates what residents can and cannot do within their lots.

However, there are some restrictions on the by-law making power of an owners corporation.  In particular, a by-law cannot be harsh, unconscionable or oppressive.  Any by-law that is, is unenforceable.

In 2020, the NSW Court of Appeal handed down a ruling providing guidance on the circumstances in which a by-law will be harsh, unconscionable or oppressive.  In that case, the Court said that if a by-law prohibits an activity that is capable of being carried out in a manner that does not have a detrimental impact on the use and enjoyment of the lots and common property by residents, then the by-law will be harsh, unconscionable and oppressive.

In that case, the Court concluded that a by-law banning pets in a strata building was harsh because it was possible for residents to keep some types of pets in the building without having a detrimental impact on the amenity of other residents: see Cooper v SP 58068 [2020] NSWCA 250.

This begs the question:

Can a By-law Prohibit the Charging of E-bikes and E-scooters in a Strata Building?

The answer to that question is most likely “no”.  This is because it is possible to charge e-bikes and e-scooters without creating a fire risk or otherwise having a detrimental impact on the use and enjoyment of the lots and common property by other residents.  Indeed, any by-law that bans e-bikes and e-scooters is not likely to be enforceable.

So what are the options for any owners corporation that wants to reduce the fire risk created by the charging of e-bikes and e-scooters?  There is nothing wrong with an owners corporation introducing a by-law that restricts the right of residents to charge e-bikes and scooters.  For example, a by-law could require residents to apply to and obtain the consent of the owners corporation to charge e-bikes and e-scooters in the building.

Further, a by-law could introduce rules that must be obeyed by residents to minimize the fire safety risk created by the charging of e-scooters and e-bikes.  For instance, a by-law could stipulate that residents need to ensure that their e-bikes and e-scooters (including the lithium batteries that power them and the chargers for them) comply with the applicable Australian standards, that residents periodically monitor their e-bikes and e-scooters whilst they are being charged and residents otherwise take all reasonable steps to minimize a fire safety risk created by the charging of e-bikes and e-scooters.

Whilst it can be difficult to police by-laws that regulate the charging of e-bikes and e-scooters, doing so is not impossible and these by-laws at least give owners corporations the right to control the charging of e-bikes and e-scooters and to do something when residents disobey the by-law.

Can an E-bike and E-Scooter By-law Protect the Owners Corporation?

Further, these types of by-laws can provide the owners corporation with protection in the event that a resident disobeys the by-law and causes a fire when charging an e-bike or e-scooter.  For instance, a by-law could require the resident to indemnify the owners corporation against any property damage that is caused by such a fire and to cover the costs the owners corporation incurs repairing any damage caused by the fire.

Ultimately, the use of e-bikes and e-scooters is on the rise and this means that is now necessary for many owners corporations to grapple with the problem created by the charging of e-bikes and e-scooters.  Introducing an appropriately worded by-law is best practice and will provide an owners corporation with the greatest amount of protection to minimize the risk of a fire caused by the charging of an e-bike or e-scooter.


DO YOU NEED AN E-BIKE AND E-SCOOTER BY-LAW?


Adrian Mueller Partner JS Mueller & Co Lawyers specialising in Strata Law

Adrian Mueller I BCOM LLB FACCAL I Partner

Since 2002 Adrian has specialised almost exclusively in the area of strata law. His knowledge of, and experience in strata law is second to none. He is the youngest person to have been admitted as a Fellow of the ACSL, the peak body for strata lawyers in Australia. Profile I Linked

Contact Us

For all strata law advice including by-laws, building defects and levy collections contact our specialist NSW and Sydney strata lawyers here or call 02 9562 1266, we’re happy to assist.




Should E-bikes & E-scooters be Banned or Managed?

Over the past few years there has been a huge push for people to buy EV vehicles of all kinds putting significant strain on strata buildings.

The increased number of electric vehicles now in strata blocks comes with a high risk of fire as residents charge their lithium-ion batteries throughout their buildings in their apartments, parking spaces, garages and other areas.

As people look for cheaper and quicker modes of transport e-bikes and e-scooters have become all the rage.

E-bikes and e-scooters have lithium-ion batteries and have sparked a series of fires in strata apartment buildings and based on statistics* pose a major threat as they continue to increase in popularity with a 16% increase in fire related incidences in 2023 and a 94% increase on the previous year.

The risk of e-bikes and e-scooters in strata blocks include:

  1. Fire Hazards
  2. Improper Charging Practices
  3. Storage Challenges
  4. Liability Concerns
  5. Electricity Costs

How do strata schemes proactively manage the EV situation to reduce the risk of fire and other concerns?

By implementing a comprehensive by-law, covering the areas below, strata schemes can proactively manage e-bike and e-scooter hazards in strata.

  1. Proper Charging Guidelines
  2. Storage Solutions/Options
  3. Registering E-vehicles with Regular Inspections
  4. Resident Education Initiatives

Banning e-bikes and e-scooters would be extremely difficult and is unlikely to be enforceable given a lot of owners rely on this mode of transport for work.

An effective by-law will minimise the risk of e-bike and e-scooter fires and enhance the safety of residents and property within the community ensuring proper processes are in place to manage and reduce the risk.

October 2023 ACCC Lithium-ion batteries and consumer product safety


CLICK HERE FOR AN E-BIKE / E-SCOOTER BY-LAW


Adrian Mueller Partner JS Mueller & Co Lawyers specialising in Strata Law

Adrian Mueller I BCOM LLB FACCAL I Partner

Since 2002 Adrian has specialised almost exclusively in the area of strata law. His knowledge of, and experience in strata law is second to none. He is the youngest person to have been admitted as a Fellow of the ACSL, the peak body for strata lawyers in Australia. Profile I Linked

Contact Us

For all strata law advice including by-laws, building defects and levy collections contact our specialist NSW and Sydney strata lawyers here or call 02 9562 1266, we’re happy to assist. 




e-Bike and e-Scooter Battery Fires in Strata on the Increase

By-laws that regulate e-Bikes and e-Scooters.  

e-Bike and e-Scooter lithium-ion batteries have sparked a series of fires in strata apartment buildings and based on the following statistics* pose a major threat as they continue to rise.

  • Between January 1 and September 15, 2023, Fire and Rescue NSW reported 149 battery-related incidents – a 16 per cent increase on the same time last year.
  • Of these incidents, 22 per cent involved e-mobility devices — a 94 per cent increase on the same period the previous year.

All strata buildings should, before it’s too late, put in place by-laws to regulate the storage and charging of e-scooters and e-bikes to help prevent fires from lithium-ion batteries.

* October 2023 ACCC Lithium-ion batteries and consumer product safety


A BY-LAW THAT REGULATES THE STORAGE & CHARGING OF E-BIKES & E-SCOOTERS


Adrian Mueller Partner JS Mueller & Co Lawyers specialising in Strata Law

Adrian Mueller I BCOM LLB FACCAL I Partner

Since 2002 Adrian has specialised almost exclusively in the area of strata law. His knowledge of, and experience in strata law is second to none. He is the youngest person to have been admitted as a Fellow of the ACSL, the peak body for strata lawyers in Australia. Profile I Linked

Contact Us

For all strata law advice including by-laws, building defects and levy collections contact our specialist NSW and Sydney strata lawyers here or call 02 9562 1266, we’re happy to assist. 




NSW Law Changes Came into effect 11 December 2023

On the 11 December 2023 the NSW strata and community title legislation changes came into effect.

If you live or work in strata or community title it is important that you are aware of the changes to the law as follows: 

Original Owners Votes

  •  If a scheme comprises of more than two lots the amendments provide that the value of a vote cast by an original owner, usually a developer, of a strata scheme may be reduced.

Strata Committees

  • Committee member removal now only requires an ordinary resolution and once removed they’re not eligible to be on the committee for 12 months.

  • Where it is called for, an election for a committee can take place at any general meeting, not just the AGM.

  • A call for nominations to the committee must be included in the general meeting notice.

  • A member with a conflict of interest must be excused from voting and discussion on that matter.

Strata Managers

  • Must provide notice to the owners corporation 6 months prior to expiration of their agency agreement.
  • Fair Trading can recommend to NCAT that a compulsory agent be appointed to manage dysfunctional strata schemes.

Internal Funds Transfer 

  • Under the amendment for internal funds transfers, the owners corporation must, within three months of the transfer, decide at a general meeting, if the funds should be repaid, and if yes, how it should be done – via a simple reverse transfer or by special levy.

Emergency Repair Levies 

  • The amendments will reduce from 30 days to 14 days the time period for payment of a special levy for urgent repairs. This amendment is for necessary building repairs to mitigate any serious and imminent threats to the health and/or safety of building occupants.

Work Quotes

  • Multiple quotations for works exceeding $30,000 will now be required for all schemes – small and large – Also, the comparative quotations will need to be for people or companies that are not connected with each other.

Pets

  • A pet bond or fee can no longer be charged by the owners corporation.
  • A by-law cannot impose unreasonable burdens on people with assistance animals.

By-laws

  • Under the changes, owners corporations may consolidate the by-laws for the scheme only by special resolution – whether or not a by-law has been amended, repealed or added.
  • Two lot strata schemes do not need to pass a resolution to issue a ‘Notice to Comply’ regarding a by-law breach.

Books and Records

  • The strata roll and other mandatory records must now be kept electronically.

Rentals

  • Rental agents will be required to give tenants and lessees a copy of a strata scheme’s by-laws and strata management statement on commencement of a lease and whenever documents are updated if they are not provided by the landlord or head tenant.
  • Rental agents will have to provide the owners corporation notice that a lot has been leased or subleased if the notice hasn’t been provided by the landlord or head tenant.
  • Tenants can give notice of the lease to the owners corporation if the landlord, head tenant or rental agent fails to do so. In giving notice of the lease or sublease the regulations may prescribe the documents or other evidence a tenant must provide.

Service of Documents

  • The regulations may provide for the service of documents, including by prescribing additional methods of service.

Meetings

  • General Meeting Notices – time period for notices increases from 7 days to 14 days.
  • Company Nominees – number of votes to be limited in a similar way to the way proxy votes are limited.
  • AGM – Delivery of development documents by the developer must be done 14 days before the first AGM.

Community Titles 

  • Most of the above proposals will also apply to Community Title regulations.

Strata Renewals

  • Allowing a strata renewal committee to operate for 2 years instead of 1 year to reflect the length of time it can take for that committee to develop a strata renewal proposal.
  • Permitting the Land and Environment Court to allow a collective sale of a strata building to proceed even though some of the preliminary steps associated with the sale have not been followed correctly (eg; inadequate meeting notice periods) if that has not resulted in a substantial injustice.
  • Allowing dissenting owners who do not object in good faith to have costs awarded against them (eg; where an objecting owner is a developer who is trying to obstruct a collective sale to another developer)

More information

NSW Government – https://www.nsw.gov.au/media-releases/critical-reforms-to-strata-laws

Amendment Bill – https://www.parliament.nsw.gov.au/bills/Pages/bill-details.aspx?pk=18511

Timeline – https://www.parliament.nsw.gov.au/bill/files/18511/SPI%20-%20Strata%20Legislation%20Amendment%20Bill%202023.pdf


CLICK HERE NOW FOR STRATA REFORM ADVICE


Adrian Mueller Partner JS Mueller & Co Lawyers specialising in Strata Law

Adrian Mueller I BCOM LLB FACCAL I Partner

Since 2002 Adrian has specialised almost exclusively in the area of strata law. His knowledge of, and experience in strata law is second to none. He is the youngest person to have been admitted as a Fellow of the ACSL, the peak body for strata lawyers in Australia. Profile I Linked

Contact Us

For all strata law advice including by-laws, building defects and levy collections contact our specialist NSW and Sydney strata lawyers here or call 02 9562 1266, we’re happy to assist.