With the help us of the newly launched First Home Loan Deposit scheme and record low interest rates, we are seeing more and more apartment owners and owners-to-be!

Whether you are a first time home buyer or a landlord, owning a unit is far different from owning a freestanding house. 

Too many new owners don’t read the fine print and sometimes find themselves in legal battles with the body corporate a.k.a. owners corporation. 

Upon reading all the paperwork, you will discover that you don’t own every part of your apartment or unit but in fact just the ‘airspace’. 

To help you make heads and tails, we’re breaking down the jargon around buying into a Strata Scheme and Owners Corporation. Let’s go straight into what they are!

Strata Community Scheme: a building or collection of buildings that has been divided into ‘lots’ which can be individual units, apartments, townhouses or houses. There is shared ownership of the common property with other lot owners. 

If you just bought an apartment/unit you would have bought into an owners corporation and have received a certificate of title for the unit you bought. Be aware of what common areas and properties you share responsibility with the other lot owners as well as the rules. 

You may own your apartment or lot but there are many things you may not own! Some of these may surprise you:

  • The internal walls, floors that are part of the main structure of the building
  • Fixtures and tiles
  • External walls, floor and roof i.e. common property or areas
  • Sliding doors, balconies, garage, garage doors

Image source: Bannermans Lawyers

Hence, it’s absolutely important to thoroughly read through and take note of the Strata Scheme and the Plan of Subdivision to know exactly what you own and what is considered common property.

Note that generally, you share the responsibility of the common property especially when there is damage or building upgrades and renovations involved. 

You also may need to seek permission on things you wouldn’t necessarily consider!

  • Installing services such as cable television, phone, internet
  • Replacing locks on doors and/or windows
  • Renovating within your lot or apartment
  • Knocking down a wall within your lot

Who exactly is the Owners Corporation?

It is YOU (all lot owners in the strata scheme)!! Owners Corporations are legal entities combining all of the lot owners within the strata scheme and an Owners Corporation is automatically created when a registered plan of subdivision contains common property

The owners corporation is responsible for the common property. 

Then who is the Committee

The committee is elected by the lot owners to make certain decisions on their behalf. The committee is highly advantageous when decisions need to be made quickly (especially on matters which are considered more trivial and day-to-day).

We always urge our clients to read everything. Some may seem like general knowledge, but when it comes to what you own, rules and regulations relating to Strata and Owners Corporation, it is safer to be aware of everything! Don’t you want to know exactly what you signed for?