Buying into a multiple lot scheme, either as an investor or a permanent resident, can be a convenient and financially prudent arrangement in the right circumstances. However, it is a different type of ownership when compared with buying a traditional house on its own lot. As such, there are a number of important issues and obligations that lot owners must be aware of, to get the best out of their investment or new living arrangement.
WA Strata Management is a company providing a specialist service to strata companies to smooth the management process. It is our job to know and understand these issues and obligations and be able to advise our clients on compliance requirements.
Know the By-laws Applicable to Your Complex
Regardless of whether you as the owner are living in the property or renting it out as an investment, you are bound by various legislation, regulations and by-laws. When you buy into an existing property, for example, certain by-laws or rules will already have been legally enacted, so it is important that you know what these are, as they may impact on your expectations.
For example, we know from experience that keeping pets in an apartment complex can be a very contentious issue. A new owner may have an expectation that a reptile kept inside in a tank does not qualify as a pet in the same way as a dog. The other residents, and the managing agents may disagree and refer to a “no pets” policy in the by-laws. The obligation to abide by these by-laws resides with the owner.
Obligation to Contribute to Maintenance of Common Property
Owners are required to contribute to the upkeep and repair of the common property. They do this by paying levies to administer the entire scheme, which includes insuring the complex and keeping it well maintained. Regardless of whether or not owners use the tennis courts, swimming pool, gymnasium or other facilities, they still have an obligation to pay these levies on time and not fall into arrears.
Legislation requires that regular meetings are held to discuss and vote on certain issues. This is one of the areas where we assist strata companies by preparing meeting agendas, attending annual general meetings and in some cases, chairing them by request. We also circulate minutes and notices so that owners are kept informed.
Attending Meetings Part of Owner Obligations
Strata companies hold regular meetings, as required by law, to discuss and vote on certain issues. Lot owners have an obligation to attend these meetings to have input into such issues such as expenses, maintenance, repairs and improvements as well as how the complex is managed. Absentee owners can still fulfil their obligations by either appointing someone to attend the meeting in their place, or by lodging a proxy vote.
These are not the only obligations attached to owning an apartment. As with all legal transactions, buyers should do their own due diligence. As for WA Strata Management, we are always available to offer professional services to suit the individual needs of strata schemes.