Tag Archives: strata plan

When there is not a Lot in Common

When you buy into a strata building you are, in fact, purchasing a ‘lot.’ Think of your lot as your own, small component of the larger strata plan. Typically, a lot will comprise an apartment or commercial suite and, where applicable, parking spaces and/or an outdoor area of some description.

Everything outside your lot is Common property. From your external walls to the hallway outside your front door to the courtyard and driveway, the Common areas are those that all residents and occupants have equal access to. And when you think of strata services, they typically apply to the Common areas as opposed to individual lots.

In general, owners are solely responsible for the upkeep and maintenance of their own individual lots. In the case of new buildings – where building or appliance warranties are often concerned – strata management companies may deal with individual lot owners, but by and large owners are responsible for their own individual lots. When it comes to dealing with major strata management matters, your Owners Corporation will represent you.

The Owners Corporation is the body that owners are automatically admitted to upon purchasing a lot in a strata plan. Being an owner entitles you to a share in the Owners Corporation and, therefore, a say in everything from determining your preferred provider of strata management services to who gets to use the visitor parking.

The Owners Corporation – or Body Corporate as it is more commonly known – has five key areas of responsibility.

  1. Strata Plan Insurance
  2. Maintenance of the Building and Common property
  3. Financing the Strata Plan
  4. Maintenance of the Strata By-laws
  5. Record keeping

And, therefore, it is perfectly correct that when people think of strata management they tend to think of who it is that provides for the care of the Common areas. The strata manager appoints the cleaners responsible for maintaining your courtyards and hallways. And the strata manager is the one who arranges repairs to Common property. Importantly, the strata manager also arranges insurance for the building. However, owners should note that the strata insurance does not cover their individual lot and that home and contents insurance is highly recommended.

An established provider of strata services in Sydney, Wollongong and Newcastle, Netstrata has been managing strata plans for over 18 years.

Is your Owners Corporation hounding you unfairly?

Australia boasts the highest incidence of pet ownership in the world. Pets may be found in over two thirds of Australian homes. And with one in five Australians living in a strata scheme of one form or another, the issue of pets and strata plans is not one that is going away any time soon.

Now, what rights you, as an owner or a tenant, have vis-à-vis your pet depends entirely on the strata plan in effect at your place of residence.

Strata managers have a few options when it comes to deciding what By-laws will govern a strata plan. They can either draw up their own or rely on the pre-existing Schedule 1 By-laws (for schemes registered prior to 1 July 1997) or the Model By-laws (for schemes registered on or after 1 July 1997.) It should be noted here that the Owners Corporation has the authority to amend the Schedule 1 and Model By-laws.

As far as pet ownership goes, in general the approval of the Owners Corporation cannot be unreasonably withheld. As for the particular By-laws, Schedule 1 is clear: A resident or tenant needs the prior written consent of the Owners Corporation. The Model By-laws are slightly more complicated and give strata managers three options for dealing with the issue of pet ownership. Approval for pet occupancy may be granted in a manner consistent with the provisions of the Schedule 1 By-laws; approval may be granted providing certain conditions are met, such as the resident’s undertaking to carry the pet across common areas, or the resident’s request may be denied.

If you intend to rent in a strata plan, you will typically require two separate approvals. The onus is on the renter to obtain approval from the leasing agent and the Owners Corporation prior to occupancy.

In the event that the Owners Corporation denies a reasonable request, residents have a few avenues in which to pursue resolution. The first port of call should be an informal discussion with a representative of the Owners Corporation. Failing that, a resident may seek to take the matter to mediation, adjudication or the Consumer, Trader and Tenancy Tribunal.

One thing that residents should bear in mind is that a strata manager is, in general, not in a position to affect outcomes in these areas. Although strata management does involve deciding the By-laws that will apply to a particular strata plan, the authority to amend those By-laws is vested in the Owners Corporation.

For more information regarding Pets and Strata Management please refer to this document produced by the Law Society of New South Wales.