FAQ: Air-conditioning


Air conditioning is a godsend during the blistering summer months, however, installing it in a strata property is not as straightforward as you might think. It is possible, but there are a few factors you must consider first.

Today we review the typical considerations when planning a purchase of air-conditioning.

According to section 110 of the Strata Schemes Management Act 2015, minor renovations to common property relating to the owner’s lot are allowed, with the approval of the owners corporation given by resolution at a general meeting.

The approval may be subject to reasonable conditions but cannot be unreasonably withheld.

In clause 28 of the Strata Schemes Management Regulations 2016, the installation of a reverse cycle split system air conditioner is included in the definition of minor renovation works. This means that according to strata laws, it is typically possible and legal to install a split system or ducted system air conditioning unit.

Owners corporations through a special resolution may wish to consider passing a by-law that allows owners to install an air conditioner providing they meet certain criteria. If your strata scheme doesn’t currently have a by-law relating to air conditioners then approval to install the unit would have to be agreed at a General Meeting or Annual General Meeting – this would require the drafting of a special by-law for that singular request.

If a standard all-compassing by-law was passed, then potentially permission may only have to be granted at a Strata Committee meeting – making the process much quicker and easier.

The permissions you will need for installation, and who is responsible for installation, depend on two primary factors: what type of air conditioning system you wish to install, and where you want to install it.

Portable air conditioning

If you wish to install a portable air conditioning unit or fan in your apartment, you will generally be the one responsible for its installation. These smaller units can be more cost-effective than larger systems, easier to install, and more environmentally friendly.

However, you will need to consider whether the appearance of such a unit in your outside window contravenes your strata’s by-laws. In any case, consult these by-laws or your owners corporation first.

Split or ducted air conditioning system

If you are considering installing a permanent split or ducted air conditioning system, gaining the approval of your strata’s owners corporation first is a must as this forms what is called a minor renovation under the new strata laws. To do this, you need to submit a proposal that includes the details regarding the system you seek to install – the brand, size, where you wish to locate the air conditioning unit, and so forth.

The owners corporation should be able to tell you whether there already exists a by-law about air conditioning and how it applies to your installation plans. If the air conditioning unit will require changes to common property – the drilling of holes into walls for piping, for example – a specific by-law may need to be written up before you can commence with the installation.

Maintenance and repairing of the air conditioning system, once installed, will likely be your individual responsibility. However, whether this is the case will be clarified during the approval process.

What if my application gets rejected?

If your application gets rejected, the Owners Corporation will provide the reason in writing. You can review whether your work plan did adhere to the by-laws. If you feel the rejection is unreasonable, you can take your application to the NSW Civil Administrative Tribunal.

For a more cost-effective and energy-efficient installation, consider talking to the owners of your strata scheme building about having a ducted system installed for the whole building.