Strata rule changes pave way for more solar apartments

New South Wales has taken steps to make it “drastically easier” for the state’s apartment-dwellers to share the benefits of rooftop solar and electric vehicles, after legislating changes to the state’s strata title laws.

The NSW minister for “better regulation,” Kevin Anderson, said last week that newly passed amendments to the NSW Strata Schemes Management Act would mean that strata committees seeking to install technologies like rooftop solar could do so with the consent of just half – or more – of the owners.

Anderson said the changes would make it easier than ever for strata committees to install a range of sustainability infrastructure, including solar PV panels, battery storage and electric vehicle charging points.

“The reality is that apartment buildings have been held back when it comes to installing renewable energy, and that had to change,” the minister said in a statement.

“For too long the high voting thresholds needed to approve these types of installations has made it far too hard for owners and residents living in strata.

“Today we’ve changed the law so that strata committees only need 50 per cent of owners to agree to install clean energy infrastructure in their apartment buildings, making it drastically easier to make the switch.”

The problem of how to extend the benefits of rooftop solar and other technologies to renters and residents of apartment buildings and other shared accommodation has presented a stubborn barrier to true solar democracy in Australia.

As One Step Off The Grid has reported, this has been a particularly big problem for the tens of thousands of apartment dwellers in Sydney. According to the government’s own figures last week, 82,000 people live in strata buildings in NSW.

And while a number of Australian companies are working on smart technologies and other innovations to get around the issue, changes to strata laws will no doubt be welcomed as part of a broader solution.

“Every dollar counts at the moment, and I won’t allow red tape to stand in the way of those people accessing clean energy and the lower bills that come with it,” said Anderson.

Anderson said the government would now consult with key stakeholders on any other barriers to the uptake of sustainability infrastructure in apartment complexes.

“Now that we’ve made it easier than ever to get approval to install sustainable infrastructure, we want to ensure there’s nothing else standing in the way,” he said.

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