What is a Strata Title property?
Generally it’s an apartment, unit or townhouse which forms part of a group, known as a corporation. These titles allow individuals to own part of a property (referred to as a ‘lot’) while also sharing the ownership of the remaining property which may include a foyer, gardens or swimming pool (referred to as the ‘common property’). The terms Strata Title, Community Title and Body Corporate are often used interchangeably. Technically Strata Title developments are pre 1996, and Community Title developments post 1996. The term Body Corporate covers both Strata and Community Title.
What is Strata, Community, or Body Corporate Management?
It is exactly as it states – the management of such a corporation by an external party. The day to day running of a corporation may be outsourced to a Management Agency to save the members of the corporation time, money and stress. The Body Corporation Manager will then be responsible for facilitating maintenance, managing the group’s finances, handling disputes and above all assisting the Corporation Members (lot owners) in maintaining a happy, healthy environment that all residents can enjoy.
Would you like to know more about what a Strata Manager does?
Can we manage our corporation ourselves?
Yes you can. This is known as ‘self-management’. Whether you choose to self-manage your corporation or appoint a professional management agency there are a number of legal requirements which must be adhered to. They include keeping financial records, notice and records of meetings, arranging insurance cover, facilitating claims and managing all common property maintenance.
Finance & Insurance Information
Why do I need to pay quarterly contributions to my corporation? What does it pay for?
As an owner and therefore member of a Corporation, you are jointly responsible for the upkeep of your property and the group’s common property. This applies to all owners within a Corporation. Your quarterly contributions (or levies) are much like paying rates to a council, only these go directly to your group to fund the maintenance, running and management of it. These funds pay for such items as building & liability Insurance, grounds and building maintenance including gardeners, security, lifts, gutters and even window cleaning. They also cover any management fees or common property utilities ie. Electricity for lights in stairwells/passageways.
I’m selling my property in my Strata building. What do I need to know?
Prior to marketing your property it’s worthwhile consulting your Manager regarding whether or not signage is permissible and if there are any parameters around when inspections can be carried out by your appointed Sales Agent. It’s also worthwhile being fully informed on any key pieces of information regarding your corporation which may impact the sale and informing your agent of these ie. significant building works which have just been completed or are due to be carried out, any bulk services discounts which apply to the group, any environmentally sustainable features of the group, owner occupied versus renting residents.
What insurance cover do I need to arrange for my home?
Contents Insurance and possibly Building Insurance. Depending on whether or not your home is part of a Strata, Community or Owners Corporation, the building insurance is handled in different ways. Your Manager will be able to advise if your property is protected under the group’s insurance cover or if you are required to arrange your own building insurance to protect your lot. When it comes to arranging contents insurance, this is always the responsibility of the owner. This ensures that all your personal belongings along with the floor coverings, fixtures and fittings within your home (this includes ovens, dishwasher, wardrobes) are covered in the case of any damage.
What are the roles of the Office Bearers – Presiding Officer, Secretary and Treasurer?
All Bodies Corporate must elect amongst the owners a Presiding Officer, Secretary and Treasurer.
The key responsibility of a Presiding Officer in a Corporation managed by a Body Corporate Manager is to make day to day operational decisions and provide instruction to the Body Corporate Manager in cases where the Manager requires direction.
The Secretary is required to call meetings, record minutes, comply with legislated requirements for disclosure and deal with both the inward and outward correspondence. As we have been appointed your Body Corporate Manager, these functions are delegated to us, so in practice the Secretary does not have any increased workload.
The treasurer is the financial controller of the corporation and their role is to report the finances of the corporation to the members, set budgets, organise legislated financial reporting to government bodies and all key stakeholders, keep records of all incoming and outgoing funds and govern and report the fiduciary responsibilities to all members both present and prospective. Like with the Secretarial role, as we have been appointed your Body Corporate Manager, these functions are delegated to us, so in practice the Secretary does not have any increased workload.
What is the role of the Committee?
Whilst the appointment of the above Office Bearers is mandatory, it is optional to create a committee. The larger the group, the more beneficial it is to create a committee.
The committee is formed with the above office bearers and a small number of other lot owners. The committee is empowered to act on all matters that require an Ordinary Resolution (this means anything that requires a simple majority of owners to agree to) such as maintenance, levy requirements, basic approvals, compliance matters, etc. In larger Corporations the Committee may meet quarterly, or more regularly to make decisions on matters that affect the Corporation, and hence there is some time commitment required by Committee Members.
I have a problem at my corporation. Who do I talk to?
The first port of call is your Corporation Manager. They have the most in-depth knowledge of your group along with your rights as an owner under the applicable legislation. A call or email to your Manager is certain to steer you in the right direction and help establish a solution to your problem.
Information for Residents Living in Strata
Where do I park my car?
Should your property include an allocated parking space, this is where you are required to park whenever at the property. If you are unsure of whether or not a car park forms part of your subsidiary or where it is, refer to your corporation plan or ask your Manager who will be able to clarify this for you. Many corporations also have allocated visitor or short term parking for your guests.
There are specific protocols to manage car parking complaints if your allocated car space is unavailable to you.
Can I have a pet?
Possibly. Each corporation has different regulations in place regarding pets. Some allow for all pets to live in the group, others only for certain animals or those which are a certain size ie. No Great Danes in a studio apartment. Prior to purchasing a home within a Corporation, or getting a pet, make sure you consult the rules of the group and also the Manager. As pet lovers ourselves, we cannot stress the importance of this step enough. Requesting a pet be removed from a building causes discomfort for all people involved, especially the pet, so please make enquiries first to avoid this from taking place.
How often is an AGM held?
An AGM (Annual General Meeting) is held once per year to assess the current financial status of the group, set contributions and discuss maintenance needs along with any other relevant topics for the Corporation at that time.
It is incredibly important that all members have their say in the running of their group and these meetings are a great opportunity for this. Attending also ensures that you are fully informed of what’s happening within your corporation. If you’d like to be more involved in the management of your group, the AGM is also where Officers of the Corporation and Management Committee Members are appointed. Speak to your Manager to find out more about these roles and how you can be considered.
What’s mine? What do I actually own?
The property you own may be made up of a number of spaces/assets referred to as your unit ‘subsidiaries’. This will include your unit, apartment or townhouse and may also include a car park, courtyard/balcony/outdoor space or storage unit. Refer to your Corporation Plan for specific details of what forms your unit subsidiaries. A copy of your plan is available from your Manager.
I’ve lost my access card/remote. How do I get another one?
Firstly, it’s very important to report any loss of these devices to your Manager. Often they are able to remotely deactivate the cards/remotes to ensure your corporation remains secure. Your Manager will also be able to issue you with a replacement device, or additional devices for a nominated fee.
I want to suggest some changes for my group, how do I go about doing this? Who do I talk to?
The best way to make a suggestion for your Corporation is to put it in writing to the Committee or Presiding Officer/Chairperson, then forward it to your Manager who will place it on the next committee meeting agenda for discussion. Of course if you wish to run your suggestion past anyone prior to placing it in writing, have a chat to your Manager. They’ll be able to let you know if a similar suggestion has already been made, was tried in the past and wasn’t successful or whether your idea is worthwhile pursuing.
Maintenance & Improvements
Can I extend my unit?
Possibly. Your Manager is the best person to speak with regarding this as they will be able to provide insight into what is and isn’t possible when it comes to additions to your home. Keep in mind that an extension can only be planned for ground which forms part of your allotment. Your completed plans may then need to be approved by the members of your Corporation, prior to lodging an application with the applicable council. Unfortunately neither your Manager nor your Committee have the authority to approve building applications. This must be decided upon by the members of the corporation at an Annual or Extraordinary General Meeting.
Can I add a pergola to my townhouse?
Possibly. Your Manager is the best person to speak with regarding this as they will be able to provide insight into what is and isn’t possible when it comes to additions to your home. Keep in mind that any additions or alterations can only be planned for ground which forms part of your allotment and these plans may then need to be approved by the members of your Corporation, prior to lodging an application with the applicable council. Unfortunately neither your Manager nor your Committee have the authority to approve building applications. This must be decided upon by the members of the corporation at an Annual or Extraordinary General Meeting.
Who pays for maintenance on my unit/apartment/townhouse?
It is different for each type of Corporation. For Community Titled homes you are responsible for all maintenance cosmetic, structural and service related, excluding external painting. For Strata or Community Strata properties these guidelines differ greatly. Generally speaking you are responsible for the internal maintenance of your property including any painting, fixtures, fittings and décor. However when it comes to items such as plumbing or electrical works within wall, ceiling or floor cavities this may be deemed to be ‘common space’ and covered by the corporation; if it is a repair to a wire/pipe which solely services your home then this will likely be a personal cost. The easiest answer? Consult your Manager. They are ‘maintenance gurus’ and will be able to tell you straight away who’s responsibility a specific issue will be.