strata property buying

Buying in a Strata – Do You Know All the Legal Requirements for Buying in a Strata? We Do!

Thinking about buying a property in a strata scheme in Perth? It’s a great way to enjoy shared amenities and a sense of community, but are you aware of all the legal requirements?

Strata living has become increasingly popular in Perth, offering benefits like maintained common areas, security, and a vibrant neighbourhood feel.

However, going into strata ownership isn’t just about finding the perfect unit – it involves understanding a set of legal obligations that can be quite complex.

This article aims to guide you through the essential legal requirements you need to know before purchasing a strata property in Perth, ensuring you’re well-prepared for a smooth and informed buying process.

What is Strata Living?

Strata living refers to a type of property ownership where individual owners hold title to a specific unit or ‘lot’ within a larger complex, such as an apartment building, townhouse, or villa.

Along with owning your private space, you also share ownership of common areas with other lot owners.

These common areas can include gardens, driveways, stairwells, and even amenities like swimming pools and gyms.

Benefits of Strata Living

  1. Shared Amenities: One of the biggest perks is access to shared facilities. Imagine having a well-maintained garden, a pool, or a gym right at your doorstep without the hassle of upkeep.
  2. Security: Strata complexes often come with added security measures like gated entries or surveillance, giving residents peace of mind.
  3. Sense of Community: Living in a strata scheme fosters a sense of community. It’s easier to make friends and stay socially active when you share common spaces.
  4. Maintenance: The responsibility for maintaining common areas is shared among all owners, meaning you don’t have to worry about mowing the lawn or fixing the roof.
  5. Affordability: Strata properties can be more affordable than standalone houses, making them a great option for first-time buyers or those looking to downsize.

Drawbacks of Strata Living

  1. Strata Levies: These are fees you pay regularly for the maintenance and management of common areas. They can add up, especially if major repairs are needed.
  2. Rules and By-laws: Every strata scheme has its own set of rules. These can include restrictions on pets, renovations, and even parking. It’s crucial to ensure these by-laws align with your lifestyle.
  3. Shared Decisions: Changes to common areas or major expenses are decided collectively, which means you might have to compromise on certain issues.
  4. Potential for Disputes: Living close to others can sometimes lead to disagreements over noise, maintenance, or use of common facilities.

For example, a Perth resident might love the idea of having a pool and gym in their complex, as it saves on personal fitness expenses and offers convenience.

However, they should also be prepared for quarterly levies and possible restrictions on renovations they want to make to their unit.

Legal Requirements: What You Need to Know Before You Buy

strata property buying

Thinking about buying a strata property in Perth? It’s an exciting venture, but there are a few legal requirements you should be aware of before diving in. Let’s break it down!

Research the Strata Scheme

First things first, you need to investigate the specific strata scheme you’re interested in. Why? Because not all strata schemes are created equal!

Each one has its own set of rules, financial health, and management style. Make sure to check the reputation of the developer and the strata manager, and look into the history of the scheme.

This will give you a good sense of what living there will be like and help you avoid any nasty surprises down the road.

Strata Plan

So, what’s a strata plan? Think of it as a detailed map of the entire property. The strata plan outlines each individual lot (like your future apartment or townhouse) and all the common areas you’ll share with your neighbours (like gardens, driveways, and stairwells).

It’s crucial because it defines exactly what you own and what you share ownership of. In Western Australia, the seller must include a copy of the strata plan in the contract of sale.

Your solicitor or conveyancer can get it for you through the WA Land Registry Services if it’s missing. Knowing this plan inside out will help you understand your rights and responsibilities.

Strata By-laws

Now, let’s talk about strata by-laws. These are the rules everyone in the strata scheme must follow. They cover everything from whether you can have a pet to how parking is managed and even the process for making changes to your unit. Understanding these by-laws is essential because they can significantly impact your day-to-day life.

For instance, some by-laws in Perth might restrict the types of renovations you can do or set quiet hours to ensure everyone’s peace. Before you buy, make sure these rules align with your lifestyle.

And remember, by-laws should not be harsh or oppressive; if they are, you can challenge them through the WA Civil and Administrative Tribunal.

Financial Obligations: More Than Just the Purchase Price

When buying a strata property in Perth, it’s crucial to understand that your financial obligations go beyond just the purchase price. Let’s break down the key components you need to know.

Strata Levies

Strata levies are regular fees that you and other owners pay to cover the management and upkeep of the property. Think of it as a shared savings account for your building.

These levies are calculated based on your unit entitlement, which is essentially your share of ownership in the strata scheme.

For example, if you own a larger apartment, your levies might be higher compared to someone with a smaller unit.

In Perth, strata levies usually cover:

  • Administrative Costs: Day-to-day expenses like cleaning, gardening, and general maintenance.
  • Capital Works Fund: Major repairs and upgrades, such as replacing the roof or upgrading the lift.

Levies are typically paid quarterly, so it’s essential to budget for these ongoing costs.

Special Levies

Sometimes, unexpected expenses come up that the regular levies can’t cover. This is where special levies come into play. Special levies are additional fees imposed on owners to fund significant, unforeseen expenses.

For instance, if there’s a sudden need to repair a structural issue or replace outdated plumbing, the strata committee might call for a special levy to cover the costs.

In Perth, it’s common for older buildings to require special levies for major refurbishments. It’s wise to ask about the history of special levies in the strata scheme you’re considering, as frequent special levies could indicate poor financial planning or an aging property in need of constant repairs.

Budget and Financial Statements

Reviewing the strata’s budget and financial health is a must before buying. This involves looking at the financial statements, which detail the income and expenses of the strata scheme. Here’s why it’s important:

  • Current Financial Health: Ensure the scheme has enough funds to cover ongoing maintenance and emergencies.
  • Future Planning: Check if there is a 10-year capital works plan in place. This plan outlines anticipated major expenses and how they will be funded.

In Perth, you can request this information through the strata manager or the owners corporation. Additionally, a section 184 certificate provides detailed financial information, including any outstanding levies, proposed funding for future works, and the financial health of the strata scheme.

Strata Management: Who’s in Charge?

In a Perth strata scheme, managing the property is a team effort involving a few key players. First up, we have the Strata Manager. This person or company handles the day-to-day running of the property, such as organizing maintenance, collecting levies, and ensuring the property complies with local laws. Think of them as the property’s project manager, making sure everything runs smoothly.

Then, there’s the Strata Committee. This group is made up of elected owners who make important decisions about the property. They work closely with the strata manager to ensure everyone’s interests are represented, from maintenance issues to budget decisions.

Finally, we have Strata Meetings. These are essential for discussing and voting on key matters affecting the property.

All owners can participate and vote on issues, ensuring everyone has a say in how the property is managed. In Perth, these meetings follow specific regulations to ensure transparency and fairness.

Rights and Responsibilities of Strata Owners

As a strata owner, you can access and enjoy the common property, like gardens, pools, and shared facilities.

You’re also entitled to participate in strata meetings, where you can voice your opinions and vote on important matters.

Western Australian law ensures that you have a say in managing property, making it fair and democratic. Plus, you can view strata records and financial statements to stay informed about the property’s management and financial health.

With great rights come responsibilities! You need to maintain your own lot, which means keeping your apartment or townhouse in good condition. This includes regular cleaning, repairs, and ensuring it doesn’t negatively impact your neighbors.

Additionally, you must adhere to the strata by-laws. These rules cover everything from noise levels to pet ownership and parking.

For example, if your Perth strata scheme has a by-law against loud music after 10 PM, it’s your duty to follow it. By respecting these by-laws, you help maintain a harmonious living environment for everyone.

Common Property vs. Private Property: Know the Difference

Common property refers to the parts of a strata scheme shared by all owners. This includes areas like gardens, driveways, stairwells, and amenities such as swimming pools and gyms.

In Perth, common property also covers essential structural components like roofs, external walls, and shared plumbing or electrical systems.

According to the Western Australian Strata Titles Act 1985, the owners corporation (all lot owners collectively) is responsible for maintaining and managing this common property. This ensures that shared spaces are well-kept and functional for everyone’s use.

On the other hand, private property, also known as a ‘lot,’ is the individual unit you own within the strata scheme. This typically includes the interior of your apartment, townhouse, or villa. Your responsibility as a lot owner is to maintain everything inside your unit, such as internal walls, carpets, fixtures, and fittings.

For instance, if you own an apartment in a Perth strata complex, you’re responsible for ensuring your kitchen cupboards and bathroom fixtures are in good condition and for any internal repairs.

In Perth, the distinction between common and private property is clearly outlined in the strata plan, which should be included in the contract of sale.

Reviewing this document to understand what parts of the property you’ll be responsible for maintaining and what is shared with your neighbors is essential. This clarity helps avoid disputes and ensures everyone knows their responsibilities, contributing to a harmonious living environment.

Resolving Disputes: What to Do When Things Go Wrong

Living in a strata scheme in Perth can be great, but sometimes things go wrong. Let’s talk about common disputes, how to resolve them, and when to seek legal advice in a friendly, easy-to-understand way.

Common Disputes: Strata living can lead to a variety of disputes, including:

  • Noise Complaints: Whether it’s loud music, parties, or barking dogs, noise can be a significant issue. For example, a Perth resident might frequently be disturbed by late-night gatherings in a neighbouring unit.
  • Maintenance Issues: Disagreements often arise over who is responsible for repairs, especially when it involves common property. Imagine a leaking roof that affects multiple units – determining whether it’s a common or private responsibility can be contentious.
  • Parking: Limited parking spaces can lead to conflicts, especially if someone repeatedly parks in another owner’s designated spot.

Dispute Resolution Process: In Western Australia, there are structured steps to resolve strata disputes:

  1. Direct Communication: Start by talking to the other party involved. Many disputes can be resolved through a friendly conversation.
  2. Mediation: If talking doesn’t work, mediation is the next step. A neutral third party helps facilitate a discussion to reach a mutually agreeable solution.
  3. Strata Company Involvement: The strata committee or manager can mediate disputes between owners, ensuring the by-laws are upheld.
  4. Tribunal Hearings: For more serious issues, you can take your dispute to the State Administrative Tribunal (SAT). The SAT can make binding decisions on a wide range of strata disputes.

Legal Advice: For complex situations, seeking legal advice is crucial. A lawyer can provide guidance on your rights and the best course of action.

In Perth, several law firms specialize in strata disputes. Firms like HHG Legal Group and Perth Strata Lawyers offer tailored advice and representation, helping you navigate the legal landscape effectively.

Due Diligence: Steps to Take Before Making a Purchase

Buying a strata property in Perth is exciting, but it’s important to do your due diligence to ensure you’re making a smart investment. Here’s what you need to know.

Inspection Reports

First and foremost, obtain a strata inspection report. This report provides a detailed look into the strata scheme’s health and management.

It reveals crucial information such as the scheme’s financial status, past and upcoming maintenance work, and any existing or pending legal matters.

In Perth, this report can highlight potential issues like structural defects or financial shortfalls, giving you a clear picture of what you’re buying into. Hiring a professional to conduct this inspection ensures thorough and accurate findings.

Reviewing By-laws and Minutes

Next, review the by-laws and the minutes of recent strata meetings. The by-laws are the rules everyone in the strata scheme must follow, covering everything from pet ownership to renovation permissions. Make sure these align with your lifestyle.

For instance, if you plan to have a pet, check for any restrictions. The minutes from recent meetings can provide insight into the community’s dynamics, ongoing issues, and how efficiently problems are resolved.

In Perth, these documents can be accessed through the strata manager or the owners corporation.

Consulting Professionals

Consult with professionals who know the Perth market well. Real estate agents can provide valuable insights into the property’s value and potential growth.

Solicitors can help you navigate the legal complexities of the purchase, ensuring all documents are in order and your rights are protected.

Strata managers familiar with Perth’s regulations can offer detailed advice on the specific scheme you’re interested in. They can help clarify any concerns from the inspection report and explain the intricacies of the strata’s financial health.

Key Takeaway

We covered essential aspects of buying a strata property in Perth. We discussed the definition of strata living, the importance of understanding legal requirements such as strata plans and by-laws, and the financial obligations, including strata levies and special levies.

We also highlighted the roles of strata managers and committees, the dispute resolution process, and the steps for due diligence before purchasing.

Prospective strata buyers in Perth should thoroughly research the strata scheme, understand their rights and responsibilities, and seek professional advice when needed. This preparation will help ensure a smooth and informed purchase process.

Take the time to fully understand all aspects of strata living before purchasing. This effort will pay off in the long run, ensuring that your new home aligns with your lifestyle and financial expectations, leading to a more enjoyable living experience.

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