When you purchase an apartment, townhouse or unit, you’ll generally be purchasing a part of a strata title. This means not only will you own your individual lot (your apartment, townhouse or unit), you’ll also own part of the building and common areas.
The common areas include car parks, entrances and lobbies, external areas such as gardens and lifts, and any recreational facilities such as pools and gyms. While you’re responsible for the upkeep of your own lot, your strata title means you and all the other lot owners are also responsible for the maintenance and upkeep of the common areas.
Because there are so many people involved, things can get confusing and heated. It’s for this reason that a body corporate
The development of larger and more complex strata developments has brought the management challenges of operational complexity, rising costs, ageing infrastructure, owner engagement, tenant responsibilities, and the need for appropriate support services.
Nowadays, what was known as a body corporate is now more commonly referred to as the owners corporation. The owners corporation, bound by laws and regulations, manages and maintains the common areas. It’s up to the owners corporation whether they want to hire a professional strata management team to manage the building on the owner’s’ behalf, or whether someone on the executive committee will put up their hand to voluntarily do the work.
The owners corporation deals with all physical issues relating to the common area structures, external and internal. It also deals with issues between lot owners, if and when they arise. Common complaints often concern noise, car parking and general behaviour.
Decisions can be made as part of a committee meeting or a general meeting involving all lot owners.
Rules & Regulations
There are rules and regulations governing you as a lot owner, and also governing the owners corporation. Individually, you are responsible for:
- Obtaining the correct insurance for your individual lot – generally, this will just be contents insurance, as the lot itself will be insured in the building’s insurance agreement.
- Obeying all by-laws as set by the owners corporation.
- Participating in general meetings – if you cannot go, you do have the option of nominating a proxy. This can either be a family member to act on your behalf, or you can nominate a member of the committee to be your representative.
- Notifying the owners corporation if and when the lot changes ownership – if the lot is tenanted, when the tenant changes, this must also be relayed.
- Paying all levies on time, or in accordance with a payment schedule – levies cover the cost of the maintenance on the building. They also cover any repairs when needed, and a portion of the levies goes into a sinking fund to cover extraordinary costs.
The owners corporation is responsible for:
- Upholding all rules and regulations as stipulated by state legislation.
- Managing insurance, administration of finance, and all common funds.
- Ensuring the maintenance and upkeep of all common areas, and if they are in need of repair, to attend to the problem quickly and without too much inconvenience caused to residents.
- Keeping all proper records including minutes of meetings, financial records, and budget costs, as well as keep a register of lot owners and committee members and when requested, ensure documentation is available for owners.
- Resolve disputes when and if they arise, and enforce all by-laws.
As part of a strata title, you have certain rights as a lot owner. For example, you have the right to live peacefully in your home. This means all by-laws should be respected, and all residents should be respectful of each other, and their common space.
This also applies to noise and health issues, such as smoking. While there will be a bit more noise than if you live in a freestanding house, it’s not unreasonable to expect a certain level of peace and quiet. As long as you remember you have common walls, ceilings and floors with your neighbours around you and be considerate of that, there shouldn’t be problem.
The building’s body corporation can put restrictions on noise. If the owners corporation does not, the building is subject to the state’s legislation, for example Victoria’s Model Rules for an Owners Corporation.
Similarly, in the case of smoking, while not outlined in Victoria’s Model Rules, it’s understood that owners corporations can enforce stipulations regarding smoking in common areas. Additionally, when it comes to parking, most owners corporations will have a by-law that states no resident can park in a visitor car spot.
It’s up to the owners corporation to enforce these rules, thereby ensuring you are able to live peacefully in your own home.
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