A strata scheme is a building where:
- each individual owns a 'lot' for example, an apartment, villa or townhouse.
- everyone shares ownership of the 'common property', such as external walls, foyers and driveways.
In most strata schemes, the lot owner owns the inside of the unit but not the main structure of the building. Usually the four main walls, the ceiling, roof and the floor are common property. The basic rule is that everything inside a lot is the owner’s property which includes all internal walls, fixtures, carpet and paint on the walls.
A lot owner effectively owns the airspace, and anything included in the airspace, inside the boundary walls, floor and ceiling of the lot. Lot airspace may include balconies and courtyards.
Areas of common property
Common property boundaries of each lot are generally formed by:
- the upper surface of the floor (but not including carpet)
- the under surface of the ceiling
- all external or boundary walls (including doors and windows).
Common property can include such things as:
- pipes in the common property or servicing more than one lot
- electrical wiring in the common property or servicing more than one lot
- originally installed parquet floors, ceramic tiles, floor boards, vermiculite ceilings, plaster ceilings and cornices
- magnesite finish on the floor
- most balcony doors are usually common property if the strata plan was registered after 1974
- the slab dividing two storeys of the same lot or one storey from an open space roof area or garden areas of a lot (eg. a townhouse or villa), is usually common property if the strata plan was registered after 1 July 1974, unless the registered strata plan says it is not.
Common property memorandum
In some strata schemes, there can be uncertainty around who is responsible for the maintenance or repair of certain items. A common property memorandum specifies whether an owner of a lot or the owners corporation is responsible for the maintenance, repair or replacement of any of the common property.
The prescribed common property memorandum (which is the only memorandum that can be used) can be adopted by passing a by-law. It cannot be modified except to exclude specified items that are not applicable, for example, a gym or a pool that are not present. An owners corporation should seek professional advice to find out whether the memorandum is appropriate for their scheme.
The registered strata plan
The registered strata plan defines the boundaries between common property and can clarify what areas are common property. Contact NSW Land Registry Services or call 1300 052 637 for enquiries about interpretations of the plan or to buy a copy of a strata plan that was registered before 1 July 1974.
Responsibilities of the owners corporation
The owners corporation is responsible for looking after common property and doing all repairs. Go to the repairs and maintenance page for more information.