Strata Schemes – An Overview

Strata schemes provide a legal and structured way for grouped housing in a residential context, and have also proved to be very practical for commercial and industrial applications. The concept of strata schemes centres around multiple dwellings occupying the same parcel of land within a defined boundary. They can be high-rise apartments or units, townhouses, duplexes or free standing dwellings provided they share the same parcel of land.

Why are Strata Schemes Necessary?

The objective of a strata scheme is to create a community atmosphere within the confines of the boundary, while still allowing the individual lot owners to own their particular unit or townhouse. The entire concept is subject to legislation and all lots must be registered at the time the scheme is formed. Each lot is issued a separate title deed and can be mortgaged, bought, sold and bequeathed in a will, just the same as any other freehold property.

The major difference is that the individual lot owner also owns and is responsible for a proportion of the common areas, as well as their own lot. Areas including the boundary walls and fencing, paths and driveways, roof, gardens and amenities such as pools, tennis courts, outdoor living areas and barbeques are owned proportionally by each individual lot owner. This means that they are also responsible for the payment of utilities, maintenance, insurance and other expenses for the upkeep of these common areas.

When a strata plan or a survey-strata plan is registered at the Registrar of Titles, a strata company comes into being. This is a form of body corporate in which the individual lot owners become members when their names are registered on their lot titles. The members of the strata company are like shareholders but with some differences. The most important of these is the mutual and unlimited liability the members have for any losses or debts of the strata company.

It is vital, therefore, that the owners take an interest in the management of the strata company. To facilitate this, each year at an annual general meeting, the owners elect a Council to perform the functions of the strata company. This is a similar role to that of a company director. The objectives of the strata company are to comply with the Act and protect the interests of the owners, tenants and visitors to the property.

How Does a Council Manage Its Affairs?

The complexity of the legislation and any by-laws enacted by the Council has created an important role for professional strata management. In most cases the day-to-day management of the buildings, finances and the reporting to legislative bodies is too time consuming and complex for individual Council members. Councils are increasingly entering into agreements with strata management companies to manage their affairs.

WA Strata Management is a professional strata management company that has been providing these services to both residential and commercial Councils for a number of years. Their trained and experienced strata managers perform the day-to-day administrative and management functions required by the Council. They keep the complex operational and ensure that the interests of the owners are looked after.

Councils that choose WA Strata Management as their strata management company can be assured that they are putting their affairs into the hands of an ethical, professional and honest organisation. They are members of the Strata Titles Institute of WA. This is the peak industry body for people and organisations working in the strata titles industry. All member companies of this body are bound by a code of ethics to act honestly and honourably to protect the interest of the owners.

For people still getting their heads around the concept and the legislation, WA Strata Management’s website at www.wastrata.com has a lot of useful information including free downloads in pdf format that explain the differing roles and players in detail. If you are considering buying into a strata scheme, or if you are on a Council that is looking for a professional strata management company, you will find everything you need right there.