Do you need Council approval for your renovations?

If you are renovating your strata unit, you may require approval from your local council. Whether you will require council approval or not will depend on:

  • the kind of renovations you plan on doing; and
  • the requirements of the local council in your area.

Approval requirements will vary from council to council. It is always a good idea to check what approvals you will need for each renovation project.

What will happen if I don’t get council approval?

There are serious consequences for owners who begin renovations without council approval where council approval was required.

Owners who do not look into council approvals before starting their works expose themselves to the following risks:

  • Your works may be considered “unauthorised development” by your local council. This can result in substantial fines and even criminal prosecutions.
  • Council may issue an order, such as an order to reinstate the property to its original condition, at your expense.
  • Unauthorised developments can cause more problems down the track. For example, you may have trouble with securing finance over your unit, leasing your unit to a tenant, or selling your unit.

Do all renovations need council approval?

No, not all renovations require council approval.

Some renovations may be considered “exempt” development, which are minor works that do not require council approval. Common examples include installation of hot water systems, courtyard landscaping, and some renovations inside your unit.

Other renovations may be considered “complying” development, which are minor works that may be approved through a simplified process that involves obtaining a complying development certificate.  This may include some internal renovations to your unit.

What is a Local Environment Plan?

You can find out whether the kind of renovations you are planning are considered “exempt” or “complying” development in your local council’s Local Environment Plan, sometimes referred to as a “LEP”.

Your local council’s Local Environment Plan contains information including:

  • what zone your unit is located in, and
  • your local council’s requirements for that zone.

Please note that unless the kind of works you are planning are included in your zone’s exempt or complying development categories, you will likely require development approval from your local council. You can and should make enquiries with your local council to confirm whether your renovations will fall into one of these two categories.

Do I need any other approvals?

You may also require additional approvals, such as:

  • approval from your strata scheme’s owners corporation;
  • building approval, which is typically dealt with by private certifiers.

If you are in doubt as to what approvals are required for your renovations, please contact us. Bannermans can assist you with legal advice specific to your situation.

Prepared by Bannermans Lawyers

28 February 2020