Strata schemes are complicated. There are by-laws, levies and legislation to consider in order to ensure that multiple owners can coexist within the same building. Naturally, issues can arise that will impede the general harmony of the scheme: from disputes between owners, to the planning and revision of rules that everyone must live by.
Whether you are a developer or a resident of a strata property, a lawyer with experience in strata law can assist you in understanding your rights and obligations, by providing proper legal advice or reviewing documents that assist in defining the rights of lot owners and those of the owners corporation.
What Is Strata Law?
You see strata complexes everyday, in the form of apartments or office buildings. In any mixed use or multi-purpose building, strata handles the legal ownership of a property which is subdivided into ‘lots’. A ‘lot’ can be a unit in an apartment, a retail shop, or a storage unit in a warehouse. Each lot has an owner, and in order for multiple owners to co-exist, there are certain rules and regulations, such as by-laws, that ensure the strata complex runs smoothly. To learn more, check out our guide on ‘What is Strata Law’.
We have different laws for strata complexes as opposed to laws for freestanding homes. Strata legal advice should therefore be sought for any of the following legal matters:
5 situations where you will need to hire a strata lawyer
As a Property Developer
If you are a property developer, building a strata complex is very different from building a freestanding house. There are special rules and regulations to obey, such as by-laws. A strata lawyer is trained to deal with any legal complications that may arise from developing a strata scheme. This can involve assistance in planning and development approvals, or reviewing leases and employment contracts. A lawyer will help to ensure that you are aware of your responsibilities and obligations when constructing a strata complex.
The Registration of a Strata Scheme
Unsure of how to lodge an application for a strata scheme? It is quite a complex procedure and involves multiple steps. Put simply, a strata plan is drawn up and submitted to the local council for approval, and a set of by-laws is established to assist in the administration and general harmony of the strata scheme. A suitably qualified strata lawyer can assist you to understand the strata scheme that is relevant to your state or territory.
The Drafting and Amending of By-laws
By-laws are general rules that ensure the complex runs smoothly. They can cover areas such as the behaviour of the residents (excess noise, misuse of parking spaces or offensive behaviour), or the maintenance (such as cleaning) of common property. Generally, residents must adhere to these by-laws or they can face penalties such as fines. The Owners Corporation can also add to, or amend, these by-laws. A strata lawyer can assist you in understanding or obtaining the latest by-laws for your scheme, whether it is commercial, residential or industrial.
For Major Defects and Urgent Repairs
A crucial question when it comes to damages and repairs in a strata complex is: who pays for what?
Generally, the owners corporation must repair common property and an owner must repair anything within their lot, however it is not always easy to distinguish between what is common property and what is the individual lot. If you’re uncertain, a strata lawyer can assist in referring to the strata plan or by looking at any by-laws. They can also review any terms and conditions that may seem unclear.
The Resolution of Strata and Community Disputes
Don’t appreciate Nickelback blasting from the room next door? From disputes between owners about excessive noise, to disagreements between owners and the owners corporation about certain by-laws, it is important to resolve any disputes in a strata complex before they develop into something they shouldn’t. A strata lawyer can provide legal advice as to your rights and responsibilities, and what is involved in handling certain disputes.
Need legal advice or documentation for your strata complex? Contact a LawPath consultant on 1800LAWPATH to learn more about customising legal documents and obtaining a fixed-fee quote from our largest online network of expert lawyers or to get answers to your legal questions.