Buying a unit or strata property

Some common questions about buying strata property:

This refers to the areas in the building that are owned by the strata scheme. When you buy a strata property you generally own everything inside your unit but not the actual building structure. Common property can include external walls, driveways, gardens, stairwells, roofs, pools, lifts etc. All of the individual owners in a strata property share the responsibility for looking after common property and must abide by the strata rules. The areas that are deemed ‘common property’ vary from one strata scheme to the next, so you will need to familiarise yourself with these when you buy your unit. For example, some may include balcony railings or garage doors.

That will depend on your building’s by-laws and common property areas. For example, you may be permitted to alter an internal wall but not the four main walls of your unit, as they are common property. You will often be able to make changes to floor coverings and kitchen/bathroom fittings (eg.the bath or bench tops) but you may need to seek specific approval from the owners corporation for certain changes that you wish to make.

All of the unit owners in the building will need to follow the rules of the strata scheme, known as the by-laws. For example, a by-law might be that owners cannot keep pets.

These are the fees that each unit owner must pay the Owners Corporation, usually every 3 months. This money is used to cover the maintenance and administration costs of the strata scheme such as the cost of electricity to light stairwells and garage areas. The amount is decided at the Annual General Meeting (AGM), and is based on an estimate of what will be needed to cover expenses for the year

Some of the levy money is paid into the building’s sinking fund. This is used for future expenses that may not be foreseen. For example, a storm might damage the building’s roof. Money from the sinking fund would be used to pay the repair costs, rather than owners having to suddenly find the extra money to pay for repairs.

Yes. As a unit owner you become part of the Owners Corporation and get to contribute to the decisions and attend meetings.

Finding a loan (or mortgage) is an important part of buying a property. The property you are buying essentially acts as security for the mortgagee (the lender) so if you fail to make your loan repayments, the mortgagee can sell your unit to pay the debt. When deciding on the loan that best suits you, you need to consider the term of the loan (the length of time you have to repay it), the principal to be borrowed (the amount you are borrowing) and the the amount of interest to be paid. A Stacks Conveyancer can go over the terms of the loan with you and answer any questions you may have.

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