Wednesday, September 30, 2020

What is common property?

What is Common Property?

You Own It. You Share It. Now Make the Most of It!

In some strata schemes, uncertainty can arise about whether the owners corporation or the individual lot owners are responsible for the maintenance or repair of certain items.

The owners corporation, which all owners automatically belong to, is responsible for managing the strata scheme.

The basic rule is that everything inside a lot is the owner’s property. This generally includes all internal walls, fixtures, carpet and paint on the walls.

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)
Part of the propertyWho is responsible?
CeilingOwners corporation must repair anything in the ceiling However, there may be circumstances where the owner is liable if they have made improvements to the ceiling.
WallsOwners corporation must repair anything in the boundary walls. The owner must repair all walls within the lot.
CarpetsThe owner must repair and maintain carpets in the lot. The owners corporation repairs and maintains common property carpets, such as carpets in the hallways.
Light fittingsIf it is recessed in the ceiling, it is the owners corporation’s responsibility. If it hangs into the lot, it is the owner’s responsibility.
Roller door of garageRepairs to the boundary roller doors are owners corporation responsibility.
BalconyBalconies are generally the responsibility of the owners corporation.

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, vermiculate ceilings, plaster ceilings and cornices
  • most balcony walls and doors

It is crucial to know where the common property boundaries are, as lot owners cannot make alterations to common property in their townhouse or apartment without first getting approval from the owners corporation. To know exactly what is common property and what is an individual’s lot, you will need to look at the strata plan for your strata scheme. The boundaries are usually marked by thick black lines. If you don’t have a copy, you can obtain one from the NSW Office of the Registrar General, building manager or strata manager.

In New South Wales, 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. Download a copy of the prescribed common property memorandum from the Fair Trading website.

The prescribed memorandum is designed to provide more certainty for strata owners and owners corporations in dealing with most items of common concern within their strata scheme.

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 common property for the purposes of a particular scheme. An owners corporation should seek professional advice as to whether the memorandum is appropriate for their scheme before adopting it.

In Victoria it is defined as:

Common property includes any parts of the land, buildings and airspace that are not lots on the plan of subdivision. It may include gardens, passages, walls, pathways, driveways, stairs, lifts, foyers and fences.

The common property is collectively owned by the lot owners as tenants-in-common. Floor coverings and fixtures within a lot are usually the property of the lot owner.

Read more here:

NSW – NSW Fair Trading
VIC – Consumer Affairs
QLD – Body Corporate and Community Management
WA – Landgate (Strata Titles ACT is administered by Landgate)

© State of New South Wales (NSW Fair Trading). For current information go to fairtrading.gov.au

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