What do I own in a strata scheme?
Essentially, all you own is airspace between the walls of your lot number. One of the major differences between owning a house and owning a unit in a strata scheme, is that the external walls, the floor and roof do not usually belong to the lot owner but to the Owners Corporation.
These areas are usually common property and the maintenance and repair of these parts of the building is usually the responsibility of the owners corporation. As it is common property, the lot owner is not able, without permission of the owners corporation, to alter or renovate these areas, or install services such as cable television.
Do I have to insure the contents of my unit?
Although there is no obligation to insure your property, it is highly recommended that you take out adequate insurance on the contents of your unit. Contents such as your furniture, electrical appliances, curtains and carpets wouldbe covered by your own contents insurance. An owner is responsible for any internal steps.
What does the Body Corporate insurances cover?
The insurance that the Owners Corporation organises covers the common property, structure of the building and any fixtures inside lots (for example, sinks, baths, shower trays). However other items such as your furniture, electrical appliances, curtains and carpets would not be covered.
Owners or tenants can suffer significant loss if their personal property is not insured in the event of a fire or through water damage. In addition, contents insurance usually covers your paint finishes on walls and ceilings.
I want to get a dog. Do I need the Owners Corporation’s permission?
Check your by-laws first. Some schemes allow pets with the permission of the Owners Corporation. Your Executive Committee can give this approval. Other schemes do not allow pets at all. If your by-laws allow for pets then make a written request to the Owners Corporation (usually via your strata manager) and include any information to support your request, for example, information on the type of dog, how you will look after it and so on.
Someone is making a lot of noise and its disturbing my sleep.
The best approach is to try to resolve the problem yourself, so talk to the person first. If that doesn’t work or, if you feel intimidated, you have two choices. You can ask the owners corporation to issue them with a Notice to Comply with a By-Law, then seek a fine if they keep breaching. Or you can apply for mediation through Department of Fair Trading to have a mediator assist you to discuss the issue with them.
I want to park in a section of the driveway that’s Common Property. Can I get permission to do this?
Send a written request to the secretary or strata managing agent. Permission should then be voted on at a general or executive committee meeting.
Why have By-laws?
By-laws are made to facilitate the smooth running of the Strata Scheme. They generally cover the use of common property and the behaviour of residents. By-laws usually pertain to:
• Parking restrictions and use of allocated areas
• Keeping of pets
• Disposal of Garbage
• Use of common property and facilities
• Behaviour of residents - noise, hanging of washing, offensive behaviour, etc
• Security and Safety measures
• Installation and use of Floor coverings
• Installation and use of air conditioners, pergolas, tv & satellite access
All residents (tenants and owners) must adhere to the by-laws in accordance with the NSW Strata Schemes Management Act 1996 - Part 5: By-Laws (Sections 41 thru 60) or face the possibility of penalties (usually in the form of fines) issued by the NSW Consumer, Trader & Tenancy Tribunal.
For more information for both lot owners and tenants, try the following Office of Fair Trading links;