If you are thinking of becoming a tenant in a strata property, you should get more acquainted with the term in the legal sense. The concept of property ownership is not only popular in Australia but more and more housing estates across the globe are coming up with custom strata regulations they have based on the Australian model. The legal stuff poses the biggest danger for tenants as they are ill-acquainted with the strata regulations. You should not become a strata tenant unless you know your rights and obligations.

Mine or communal?

Primarily, you need to know where the border between your and communal property is. In a typical strata scheme, you become the owner of the interior space of a given housing unit like an apartment inside a building. You own interior surfaces, like the walls and the floors but you don’t own their other side! This means that the hallway walls and the façade are not under your jurisdiction. Everything outside the apartment, including the driveway, the backyard, and the garages is maintained by an owners’ collective, i.e. a strata company.

Who does what?

The strata company works on behalf of you and the other tenants but you have no direct influence on it. You are solely responsible for your apartment and your apartment alone. The maintenance of the elevators, hallway hygiene, and trimming the hedge are all the responsibility of the owners’ association.

Although the strata committee is predominantly comprised of real estate owners, they usually delegate professional strata managers to carry out day-to-day operations, so they act as sort of a building’s superintendent, like the ones they have in the United States. On the other hand, these people and rental agents who enter a strata scheme for a profit, cannot become members of the managing committee because of a conflict of interest.

What happens in case of a misunderstanding?

Speaking of possible issues, strata schemes might seem at first like arrangements where everybody wins. However, the existence of numerous factors and legal entities means that a potential misunderstanding is always possible.

For instance, an owners’ corporation can decide to sue the building company, its subcontractors or their suppliers. Furthermore, a title owner or tenant can get into an argument with another owner or even the owners’ corporation, which can cause major functional issues. In 

Local strata lawyers can help mediate any disputed regarding strata management in Sydney and other Australian cities. It is essential that you settle all the differences in a peaceful manner and preferably off-court because the last thing you need is getting i9nro a feud with your next-door neighbor. 

How much does it cost to enter a strata scheme?

Strata scheme ownership implies full membership, so you are required to pay levies even if you’re legal only a tenant. The strata company sets this annual rate that you are required to pay during their general meeting and there are several factors that determine individual amounts tenants pay. The size of the lot an individual title owner possesses is the crucial factor when it comes to setting the number of annual levies.

The money in question is then reinvested into the scheme and it is divided into two separate funds. The first fund is used to cover daily expenses, like maintenance and cleaning services. The second fund is a “sinking” one that is intended for capital investments concerning the common interest of all the tenants. These include but are not limited to: replacing the roof structure, painting the outside of the building, and connecting a new door phone for the whole building.

When a permit is needed?

Since you don’t actually own the walls of your home as physical objects, according to by-laws, you are required to ask for a permit even if you wish to hammer a nail to hang a picture. However, this issue was more topical a few decades ago, as the current legislation allows for several different types of repairs and renovations, falling under three major categories: cosmetic, major, and minor. This means that you are free to nail a framed family photo but you just have to notify the committee after doing so.

When it comes to minor alterations you wish to make to the property you occupy, you’ll require approval from the committee. The permit in question is fairly easy to get for most common improvements, like installing an air-conditioning unit. Luckily, if several of your neighbors have already had similar work done to their pieces of property, you will get approved by default.

In the end, major changes you wish to carry out in or on the building, like tearing down walls, will require you to get a special resolution that is passed at a general meeting of the committee. These take place only several times a year so bide your time carefully.

As a prospective tenant in a strata property, it is essential to learn more about your duties and your rights, especially in terms of legislative. Despite its peculiarities, the residential strata scheme is an Australian communal living concept that has proven its worth during the past century and continues to do so.

About the Author

Ron Wolf is a hobby designer and a DIY enthusiast, and, above all, a very blessed father of two. Besides that, he has a strong passion for writing. He is a featured blogger at various blogs and magazines in which he shared his research and experience with the vast online community. If he is not working he enjoys being outside with his family. Hiking, bike riding, and BBQing are always a thing for him. In the evening, he likes to watch documentaries or build something with kids in their lego corner.