When the time comes to downsize your place of residence into a Strata Apartment, the resulting changes that are created are often a lifestyle change that many owners aren't prepared for. The Strata Collective has prepared the following guide to help transition our owners from house ownership into strata ownership and apartment living:
The first thing to understand is what part of your apartment is owned by you the Lot owner (ie fixtures and fittings) and what is owned and maintained by Strata as common property (ie what is owned by all owners collectively).
An excellent guide on this topic is prepared by Bannermans Lawyers and can be found here.
You no longer need to organise maintenance for any areas outside of your apartment. You have a designated Strata Manager who arranges this maintenance. The common property that can require repair within your apartment is normally:
- plumbing and electricals in the external walls (excluding power points)
- floor other than carpet / floating timber flooring (which are both lot (owner) property)
- ceiling leaks
- the balcony door windows
What you are required to do is to contact your Strata Manager who will arrange any repairs for you.
Following are some tips to consider as a first-time lot owner in a strata scheme:
- Each Strata building has its own individual rules called by-laws. Your Strata Manager should be able to provide you with a copy of these (if you don't already have a copy). Take the time, usually only a few minutes, to read these You are required to pay maintenance contributions called Strata Levies for all of the above maintenance which is usually payable quarterly.
- The money paid is for today's expenses (Administrative Fund) and tomorrow's major expenses (Capital Works Fund). If you forget to pay your levies, interests and charges apply (much like with council rates) and you won't be able to have these costs waived by your Strata Manager - even though The Strata Collective is a caring company. Get to know your neighbours and find out who is on the Strata Committee. The Strata Committee work with the Strata Manager to make the decisions regarding your building.
- Make sure you consider getting contents insurance for your apartment. Insurance for a stand-alone home is different to Strata insurance which is effectively split into two insurance policies for Owner Occupiers - Strata Insurance and Contents Insurance. It is wise to speak to an insurance broker for specialist advice. The Strata Collective trusts Coverforce who can be contacted here.
- Democracy rules. For most important decisions that involve your Strata Scheme, these will be made at a strata meeting of the owners by a simple majority decision. You are required to receive at least one week notice of this meeting. This is important to remember that majority rules in strata so that expectations are managed for all owners (every owner is disappointed at some point in their strata as majority rules- click here for an article on this topic).
- Your behaviour can impact your neighbours. Be mindful to keep common property doors closed to minimise noise. You should make sure that your furnishings are not visible externally (no paintings or doormats in the hallway) Urgent unacceptable behaviour by your neighbours should be actioned by you calling the police (noise and violence) or council (unapproved renovations). Strata can act and should be notified the next business day however Strata action almost always takes some time due to the law. You get what you give - if you want to support your strata community and do your part to enhance your property and your community, join the Strata Committee and participate. No special skills required other than patience and respect for your fellow Strata Committee members.
Have we missed anything? If so, please let us know so we can update our list.