If you are buying a townhouse or an apartment in South Australia then you will need to consider a few things that are different to purchasing a house. Any new development built since 1996 is called a Community or Community Strata Corporation. Prior to that all units/townhouses etc were known as Strata Corporations.
The three main points to consider when purchasing a property that is in these categories are:
If you are buying an apartment, town house or Unit (aka Community Title or Strata Title Unit), the Building and/or Common Property Insurance is held by the Strata or Community Corporation.
In the case of a Strata or Community Strata Scheme then both Building and the Common property are covered in the one insurance and part of your Strata Levies go towards paying for the appropriate insurance. Each owner is responsible for their own contents insurance including fixtures and fittings and if you are a landlord you should have Landlord’s Insurance including the insurance to cover your fixtures and fittings internally.
A Community Title property differs slightly in that an Owner is usually responsible for both the Building, Public Liability and any Contents insurance. The Community Corporation takes care of the Common Property Insurance which is compulsory. Depending on the kind of Community Corporation property you are purchasing you may also be required to have Third Party Property, Bodily and Public Risk Insurance. Again part of your levies to the Community Corporation would pay for this.
Sometimes in the case of a Corporation where there are only two or three units, the insurance is managed by one of the unit owners and the costs are shared between them according to the Lot Entitlement. Any maintenance of the common property also would be discussed and dealt with by all of the owners.
BODY CORPORATE/STRATA OR COMMUNITY CORPORATION MANAGERS
If the Strata/Community Corporation is larger two Lots then a body corporate otherwise known as a Community or Strata Manager would be appointed to manage the Corporation. They are responsible for the maintenance and upkeep of the Common Property and shared components of the land, as well as collecting the quarterly levies for maintenance funds and insurance. Water use is calculated on the Lot Entitlement which is based on the Lot size and is usually paid by the individual owner though any Common Property water use is usually covered in the Strata/Community Corporation levies.
Annual meetings are held and any insurance, maintenance, levies, approvals or other issues are discussed and approved by the members that attend.
If a Community Corporation only has two Lots then a Manager is not required and annual meetings are not required to be held. The owners generally share the cost for the insurance over the common property according to their lot entitlement. In a Community Corporation the Owners are responsible for the maintenance and insurance of any structures on their own Lot. No Owner is required to provide funds for maintenance to other Lot owners buildings.
A Strata Corporation has Articles of the Association which are set up at the time the Corporation is established. These may be either standard Articles or more specific rules which the Unit owners or Occupants must abide by.
With a Community Corporation the owners of each Lot are responsible for the administration the rules of the corporation called By-Laws. These By-Laws are similar to the Articles of the Association but are specific to each Community Corporation.
ARTICLES OF THE ASSOCIATION OR BY-LAWS
The Articles of the Association and the By-Laws which govern Strata and Community Corporations are standard.
For example, each lot owner has the right to quiet enjoyment of their lot without interference from other lot owners or their visitors and it is the Corporation which administers these rules.
Some different by-laws which we have come across for specific Corporations are: washing cannot be hung out on balconies, bicycles cannot be stored on balconies, arrangements must be made with the Corporation when moving furniture in and out of the lot, and if a lot owner wants to change the floor coverings in their property they must seek approval of the Corporation.
If you are a landlord you must give a copy of the Articles of the Association or By-Laws to tenants as they are bound by them also.
It is a good idea to go through these documents carefully so you know what you can and can’t do.
The team at McKay Business Services are all members of the AICSA and are proud Adelaide conveyancers