Residential Strata schemes are effectively small communities. Enjoying your home, office or investment property also means being able to live in harmony with others. Here you'll find information and advice on everyday issues to help ensure a friendly and safe neighbourhood.
More and more people are beginning to call an apartment home and a large percentage of them are coming from living in detached housing. Apartment living can be great but it is not like living in a house and there are some things buyers need to understand about sharing their space. That’s right – you will be sharing your space. While your apartment is your sanctuary, the steps from the building front door to your front door are likely to belong to everyone. Not only that but you will be required to pay a levy, have voting rights at the building’s annual general meeting and should familiarise yourself with the by-laws.
Top 10 Tips for Apartment Buyers
1. Do your research
As with any purchase of property, the rule of "buyer beware" applies, However when purchasing strata titled properties, the vendor is required by law to provide certain notifiable information, (Refer to Strata Titles Act 1985, Section 69 (A) & 69 (B), about the scheme before the purchaser signs the contract to buy the property. Have a professional search of the books and records of the Strata Company to view the finances and any issues the Strata Company is facing by viewing the minute book. The strata company secretary or manager has these records. (Refer to Strata Titles Act 1985, Section 43).
2. Know what you are buying into
Check that the car space or garage you were shown is correctly allocated to the apartment – the strata plan will usually detail this. Strata Plan details are available from the vendor, you can also obtain a copy of the Certificate of Title and copy of the Strata Plan which relates to the lot you are interested in from Landgate. (Refer to Strata Titles Act 1985, Section 4).
3. Know Your Rights
All by-laws are not the same you should obtain a copy a full copy of the by-laws that are specific to your Strata Company, so that you understand the rules that you will be required to live by. By-Laws are effectively a set of rules that the owners and tenants in a strata scheme must follow. Schedules 1 & 2 to the Strata Titles Act 1985, contain the standard by-laws which apply to all strata schemes unless the strata company has amended them. You should obtain a copy of the strata plan to ascertain if the standard by-laws apply. By-Laws can be changed at a general meeting of the strata company.
4. Common Property
Common property refers to the areas of a strata building or community which every occupier or owner shares, including foyers, driveways, fences, visitors parking and gardens. The common property is the responsibility of the strata company whose obligations include maintaining and repairing the common areas.
5. Don’t Forget the Levies
Remember that you’ll have to budget for levies to fund the annual running expenses of the Strata Company and its long term maintenance. Ultimately, this protects the value of your financial investment.
6. What about Insurance
The basic principle of insurance in strata schemes is to provide for joint insurance of common property. The responsibility for insurance varies depending on the type of strata scheme. (Refer to Strata Titles Act 1985,Sections 53 to 59)
7. Be Informed
Educate yourself about your rights and responsibilities when living in a strata title property, know who your 'Council of Owners' are. The Strata Council is regarded as the "Board of Directors" of the Strata Company. Councillors are elected at general meetings. Attend the annual general meeting so that your voice is heard and consider becoming a member of your building’s strata council.
8. Know Who To Call
Find out what emergency arrangements are in place or who to contact on your council, if something goes wrong in the building.
Whether you can keep a pet in your strata scheme depends on the by-laws made or adopted by its strata company. Seek advice from the Chairman of the Strata Council. (Refer to Strata Titles Act 1985, Sections 91, 92 & Schedule 2)
10. Love Thy Neighbour
Remember that in an apartment building, your neighbour is usually just on the other side of the wall. “ A good neigbour is someone who smiles at you over the back fence, but doesnt climb over it.” Arthur Baer.