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What is strata and does it work?

by Greg on November 29, 2018

strata

A relatively new concept introduced in the mid-twentieth century, strata management now encompasses a quarter million lots in Australia alone. Other western countries are catching up fast. Most new residential sales are made with strata properties and the numbers are steadily rising. But very few people know what strata management is, and what it brings to the table. It’s a new way of purchasing residential properties, with different management and rules surrounding it. There are some differences between strata and other kinds of title sales.

1. What you own exactly

When purchasing an apartment or unit through strata management, you get partial ownership of a strata title. The main part of a strata title is what is called a “lot”. The lot encompasses everything within the four walls of the space you’ll be living in. The other part is called the common area. Common areas are parts of the building that aren’t your apartment. This includes hallways, the lobby, entrances etc. This also includes outside elements like gardens and parking lots for automobiles.
You make the decisions regarding your own lot, but the common areas can be a tricky subject. You and the other residents share ownership of these areas and have a responsibility to care good care of them. Since the apartment complex can be quite large and include lots of people, this might lead to conflicts. Disagreements regarding upkeep are one of the reasons body corporate exists.

2. What is the role of body corporate

More commonly referred to as the Owners Corporation, body corporate is a legal entity that is in charge of the strata title. It manages and maintains the common areas of the properties. It deals with all the physical issues of the structures, both internal and external. Another important role of that body corporate is that of a mediator for the owners. Any disputes or issues between lot owners are resolved through this entity. This is where you take your complaints.
Issues can arise from the most menial things like car noises or parking disputes. If the matter at hand is something more important, you should consult the by-laws of your strata complex. Lower-level issues are often resolved democratically. All the owners come together and vote on how to solve the problem.

3. There are rules to watch out for

There are lots of rules and regulations that you have to follow as an owner of a lot. You have to get the right insurance for your property. Often this is just contents insurance, while the rest is covered by the building’s insurance agreement. General meetings are a must. These are gatherings of lot owners where issues and disputes are discussed in detail. If you must avoid a meeting, you can nominate someone to go in your stead.

Body corporate also has rules that govern it. It has to uphold any and all laws and regulations set by the government legislation. A register of all lot owners and members of the committee has to be preserved. All records of general meetings must also be kept. These documents must be available to any and all lot owners if requested.

4. Sometimes you need mediators

With the many rules and by-laws you have to follow, it’s easy to lose track of some of them and end up in an avoidable dispute. Even body corporate doesn’t always have the necessary knowledge to solve a conflict between two owners. This is why strata management often calls upon a professional from companies like Eling Strata Management that will set the records straight.

The mediator is usually a legal expert with knowledge of strata title laws. They will provide an unbiased point of view in the dispute and try to come to a resolution. This result might not satisfy both parties, but you can be sure that the law is being followed to a T.

5. Your rights are accounted for

As the owner of a strata title, you are given certain rights. Lining peacefully and not being disturbed is one of those rights. This is a right you share with your neighbors and that means maintaining that peace is everyone’s duty. In an apartment, you should expect a bit more noise than if you lived in a freestanding house, but nonetheless, you should expect peace and quiet.
Health issues are something that is considered as well. Body corporate can put restrictions on smoking if it proves to be a health hazard. The owner of another lot could have asthma and be extra sensitive to harmful smoke. This isn’t a law set in stone, however. It’s up to the Owners Corporation and it can be put to a vote.

Conclusion

It differs a bit from other land title systems, but the basics of strata management are the same. Disputes with neighbors, having to get insurance and such are a part of living near other people and can’t really be avoided. Now that you know some important facets of strata title ownership, you can start moving in.

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