How much do you know about strata schemes?

1.11.13With the Sydney population exploding, multi-unit apartments are becoming ever more popular for buyers in the city. Residents shouldn’t be surprised to see an explosion in the number of strata communities coming up.

Given this fact, getting yourself up to speed with the basics of strata schemes is vital. In the following article, we’ll answer some of the most common questions about strata schemes.

What are strata schemes?

Strata schemes are communities with a mix of individual and shared ownership of a property. The most common form they take are apartment blocks. Under such an arrangement, a buyer might own their individual lot or apartment, but they share responsibilities for spaces such as driveways and gardens with the other residents through what is known as an owners corporation.

Does this only apply to residential property?

All kinds of property can fall under strata title, from residential and commercial, to retail and even mixed use.

How does living in a strata scheme differ from ordinary residential property?

Because a strata resident’s actions have a greater and more direct effect on her or his neighbours, there are more restrictions in terms of behaviour. There may be limits to renovations, for example, or having pets, or even on growing gardens. It differs from scheme to scheme.

What kind of costs are involved?

Typically, residents have to pay quarterly levies, which cover the the cost of running the building. In addition to this, they have to pay into what is known as a sinking fund, which takes care of future capital expenses. Examples of this include refurbishment, painting work, roofing and guttering.

Who runs a strata scheme?

Professional strata managers administer owners corporations, in accordance with instructions from the owners committee – a small group elected at a corporation meeting. They make sure common areas and buildings within the scheme conform to the strata restrictions, as well as making sure properties are in line with state legislation.

When do meetings take place?

The owners corporation meeting should be conducted on an annual basis, and should take place a month before or after the anniversary of the very first meeting. During the meeting, members discuss topics such as financial contributions and insurance policies.

Who is responsible for repairs and maintenance?

It depends on the particular feature that requires work. Generally, everything in the individual owner’s unit’s airspace is their responsibility – features like carpets, paint and fixtures. Features outside that airspace tend to be the owners corporation’s job to fix up. Of course, to be sure, you would have to check your specific strata plan.

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