When purchasing a strata property, make sure you understand the operations and finances of the body corporate before signing the contract.
When buying a property in a unit development, the land may be divided by a strata plan and referred to as strata title. Owning a strata title means you have individual ownership of an apartment or unit within a block or multi-unit complex. When you buy a property within a strata plan, you buy into a community lifestyle with shared responsibilities and liabilities.
Within the unit or apartment complex, there are common areas of joint ownership. A body corporate administers and maintains these common areas on behalf of all unit holders. The body corporate arranges maintenance, organises meetings and administers the day-to-day financial affairs of the unit block and all unit owners are automatically members of the corporation.
When purchasing a strata property, make sure you understand the operations and finances of the body corporate before signing the contract. Investigate its affairs, its sinking fund and your obligation to pay levies. This information should be given to you when you express your interest as a buyer. Owning a unit will also allow you to have a say in things affecting the corporation, with one unit usually equalling one vote.
Owning a strata title also means there are restrictions on doing renovations to your property. Unit owners must have permission from the corporation before they go ahead with renovations. Most decisions are made by a majority vote from all the unit holders.
You will generally need approval for any external alterations or anything that dramatically affects the appearance of the building. Putting in a new kitchen, knocking out a wall, building a balcony or replacing window frames are examples of things which may need approval. However, changes to the inside of the unit can generally be done without approval, such as new carpet or painting the interior.
To assist consumers with real estate queries, REISA operates a free information service – REISA Query Connect on free call 1800 804 365, between the hours of 9.00am to 4.00pm each weekday. This service is staffed by knowledgeable real estate professionals with many years of practical experience.