Brand new to the world of strata? Then this information is for you. Whether you’re considering buying an apartment that is part of a strata scheme or are just curious about the term, here are all the need-to-know details about living in strata.
Let’s define strata first. A strata property is a property that consists of multiple lots that are owned by individual people or parties, along with shared common property that those owners take collective responsibility for. Typically, common property includes the building itself, corridors, roofing, garden and parking areas, and often the pipes and electrical wiring within the walls. Owners pay strata levies, or fees, that go towards the upkeep and repair of that common property.
Your strata lot or unit may be an apartment, a townhouse or a house within a strata property. The term unit refers to all of the property that is yours individually. Typically, that includes everything within the boundaries of the walls of your apartment inwards. By purchasing a strata lot, you are buying into a strata scheme. That strata scheme is either self-managed by yourself and the other unit owners together, called the owners corporation, or by a strata manager. You will collectively vote on common property decisions at Annual General Meetings and General Meetings. When you appoint someone to represent you in that vote, it is called a proxy vote.
While a Torrens title means you own the land and its building, a strata title in NSW is a form of semi-collective ownership. You personally own everything included within your lot, and share ownership of common property. As such you have a responsibility to pay your share of the levies.
Strata living can be an ideal solution for complex properties with multiple apartments or houses. It is actually an Australian concept originally formed here in New South Wales in the 1960s, and the system has since spread across the globe. It’s popular because it’s a low-fuss (and often low-cost) way of owning property. If the roof springs a leak, you’re not on your own – you and the other owners pay ongoing fees to cover that repair. By finding a strata property with low levies and good management, living in strata can be incredibly rewarding, convenient and cost-effective.