Community Title Schemes
If purchasing a unit, townhouse or apartment it is likely you will be buying into a strata title or “community titles scheme”. A community titles scheme is comprised of not only the individual units owned by each resident or investor, but “common areas”. Common areas are those spaces within the complex that can be accessed and used by all unit owners – they include common use car parks, gardens and lawns, footpaths throughout the complex, lifts, and facilities open to all residents such as the gym, pool and common rooms.
Owning a home or investment property in an apartment complex or similar community titles scheme is more complex than owning a detached house, including additional legal and financial obligations.
The Body Corporate
Buying into a community titles scheme automatically makes you a member of that complex’s Body Corporate, and you remain a member (with all the obligations that brings) until you sell the property – that is, you cannot opt out of being a Body Corporate member, or the obligations imposed on you as a member.
A Body Corporate, sometimes called the owners’ corporation, is the legal structure that manages and maintains those common areas, as well as ensuring compliance with the laws relating to community titles schemes. The Body Corporate is responsible for not only maintaining these areas is a safe and clean state, but also arranging repairs and renovations to common areas.
This type of property ownership brings with it a whole range of legislation and regulation ranging from how the Body Corporate Committee (which makes decisions affecting your property) is elected by the Body Corporate, how the complex will be financially managed and what fees you will be required to pay, and what rules the Committee can make that may prevent you doing certain things, to the keeping of pets, how certain areas within the complex will be managed such as the visitor car parks, gardens and facilities (such as pools and gyms) and what insurances will be taken out to protect your property, and the common areas.
If you do decide to buy into a community title scheme, ensure you receive not only good property and financial advice, but also clear legal advice on your rights and responsibilities as a Body Corporate member. Contact Faileen James to guide you – Faileen has extensive experience in Body Corporate advocacy and management.