Picture this: you have just purchased a retail space within a high-rise building. You have individual ownership of the unit and perhaps a space in the garage, but the other residents of the building share the foyer and the stairs with you… how do you know who owns what?

What is Strata Law?

Strata law involves the individual ownership of part of a property, and shared ownership in the communal spaces of the same property. The system, first established in Australia in 1961, has transformed property law across the world.

It allows for you to own a unit or retail space within a building, called a ‘lot’, and share ownership with the other residents over ‘common property’, such as the foyer, stairways or garden. When you own a ‘lot’, you are automatically a member of the ‘owners corporation’, which manages the communal spaces.

As a member of the owners corporation, you contribute to the costs and decisions surrounding the upkeep of common property. However, strata schemes do not only apply to residential and commercial developments.

What is a Strata Complex?

Essentially, the strata scheme allows for the ownership of individual lots within high-rise, mixed use or multi-purpose buildings, such as:

  • Residential and commercial buildings;
  • Resorts;
  • Retirement villages; and
  • Caravan parks.

Why Do I Need a Strata Lawyer?

Whether you are a unit owner, a community association, or even planning to develop your own strata complex, you will be subject to various strata laws, regulations and by-laws. A strata lawyer assists unit owners, associations and developers with any legal concerns related to strata complexes.

For unit owners, in contrast to living in a freestanding house, certain lifestyle choices may be restricted by existing property rules. You may not be allowed to keep a pet on the property, or behave in a way that offends other residents and interferes with their ‘peaceful enjoyment’. A strata lawyer can provide advice to owners who want to renovate their unit, or make urgent repairs to structural issues in the building.

The owners corporation, consisting of all the unit owners, has the power to remove, change or create new by-laws, such as allowing pets in a strata property.

For developers, a strata lawyer may assist in planning and developing approvals of strata-titled properties, in the registration of a strata scheme, or enforce by-laws for any damage to common property.

Recent Reforms to State Strata Laws

The number of strata developments are increasing across Australia. New South Wales, for example, has more than 75 000 strata schemes, which are worth 35 billion dollars in assets. In light of these statistics, NSW has recently passed changes to existing strata laws, which will affect millions of strata owners and residents in strata-titled townhouses and units.

These reforms in addition to existing complex by-laws, emphasise the importance of seeking advice from a lawyer with expert knowledge in strata law. They can help to resolve any community disputes, and review legal documents such as leases or contracts.

Conclusion

With LawPath’s quick quotes service you can connect with a strata lawyer. This will ensure that you, as either a unit owner or developer, understand and can navigate through legal issues that may arise from the individual and common ownership of strata property.

Need a contract reviewed or by-laws drafted for your strata complex? Contact a LawPath consultant on 1800LAWPATH to learn more about customising legal documents, obtaining a fixed-fee quote from our network of 600+ expert lawyers or to get answers to your legal questions.

Sydney Rae

Sydney is a Paralegal at LawPath working in our content team, which works to provide free legal guides to enhance public access to legal resources. With a keen interest in Tort and IP Law, her research focuses on small businesses, and how they can better navigate complex legal procedures.