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Strata Living - Office of Fair Trading

Friday, 09th April 2010

Kristy and Matt move into their new apartment

We have taken comprehensive information from the Office of Fair Trading on Strata Living and now we can help Kristy and Matt move into their new apartment.

Kristy and Matt want to know the meaning of Strata Living.

There are currently around 65,000 strata schemes in New South Wales and the number is increasing steadily with five or more new schemes being registered each day.  Strata schemes cover residential, commercial, industrial, mixed use and retirement village developments and they range in size from two lots to over 700 lots.

It is estimated that close to a quarter of the state's population live, own, or are employed within a strata scheme.

The concept of strata title, where people own and have title to individual lots (units or apartments) within buildings or complexes, was originally devised in New South Wales in the early 1960s.  The laws applying to strata schemes have been updated many times over the years to keep up with the increasing complexity and sophistication of strata developments.

The Office of Fair Trading administers the Strata Schemes Management Act 1996, which sets out a framework for the Management of Strata Schemes by their owners and establishes a dispute resolution process.

The subdivision and registration aspects of strata developments are administered by the Department of Lands under separate legislation, the Strata Schemes (Freehold Development) Act 1873.

This information has been prepared by the Office of Fair Trading as a comprehensive resource for anyone interested in strata living and the management of Residential Strata Schemes in New South Wales.  Note that much of the information will also be relevant to people involved in commercial, industrial, mixed use and retirement village strata schemes.

The strata lifestyle

Strata schemes are effectively small communities where the activities and attitudes of residents can have a significant impact on the satisfaction and enjoyment of others.  Therefore, it is important to be aware of your responsibilities and obligations when you own or live in a strata unit.

Whilst strata living can provide a friendly community style environment, it helps to remember that it is not the same as living in a freestanding house.  Some activities may be more restricted in a strata scheme, for example, where you can park your car, hang your washing or when and how you can renovate.  Understanding these differences before moving into a strata scheme can help reduce the likelihood of disputes over these activities later on.

What is different about living in a strata scheme?

  • You own your unit or apartment as well as sharing ownership and responsibility for 'common property'.
  • If you own your unit, you are automatically a member of the Owners Corporation which has responsibility for common property.
  • Every three months you have to contribute to the cost of running the building through paying quarterly levies.
  • You also have to pay money into a sinking fund, for future long term expenses such as painting the building or replacement of guttering.
  • Compared to living in a freestanding house, there will be lifestyle restrictions in a strata scheme, for example there are rules (by-laws) that may affect you doing renovations to your unit, that state where you can and cannot park your car, where you can dry washing or whether or not you can keep pets.

Information supplied by the Office of Fair Trading - www.fairtrading.nsw.gov.au

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