General Strata Info

Who is Responsible?

Do you have questions about common property in relation to pruning trees, parking, repairs and gardens?

The Office of Fair Trading has helped to answer some of those questions.

Who is responsible for pruning trees on the property?

Who is responsible for looking after the wheelie bins?

We want to use the garden area outside our unit just for ourselves. Can we do this?

We want to park in a section of the driveway that’s common property. Can we get permission to do this?

Can we do our own repairs to common property?

Can we do anything we like to our backyard?

Before we answer those questions, let’s take a look at what common property is.

Common property is all the area of the land and building not included in any lot. It is jointly owned by all owners and the Owners Corporation is responsible for its management.

The 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
  • the external or boundary walls (including doors and windows).

Generally common property includes:

  • floors including a ramp or stairway
  • boundary wall including any door, window or other structure within the wall and their working parts
  • ceramic tiles originally attached to a common property surface (eg. the floor or boundary wall)
  • pipes in common property or servicing more than one lot
  • parquet and floorboards originally installed
  • vermiculite ceilings, plaster ceilings and cornices
  • magnesite finishes on the floor
  • balcony walls and doors are usually common property if the strata plan was registered after 1 July 1974, unless the registered strata plan says it is not

In addition, structural cubic space is usually common property unless the registered strata plan shows that it forms part of the lot.

Structural cubic space includes:

  • any pipes, wires, cables or ducts that are not for the enjoyment of a single lot
  • any cubic space enclosed by a structure enclosing any of these pipes, wires, cables or ducts.

Boundaries

If you are unclear about which parts of your unit are your individual ‘lot’ and which parts are common property, check on the strata plan. The common property boundaries are usually shown on strata plans by thick black lines. Sometimes it may be necessary to refer to the registered strata plan if the boundaries between common property and lots in a Strata Scheme are unclear. If you wish to obtain a copy or seek interpretation of the registered strata plan of your scheme, contact the Department of Lands at www.lands.nsw.gov.au or call 9288 6666.

Care of common property

The Owners Corporation is responsible for the ongoing maintenance of common property (unless it decides by special resolution that it is inappropriate for a particular item and its decision will not affect the safety or appearance of the strata scheme). This includes repair work and replacing and renewing common property when needed.

Repairs and renovations involving common property

Any repairs or renovations to an individual lot that involve common property (for example, installing cable television or adding a new window) will need the permission of the Owners Corporation.

The Owners Corporation can decide by special resolution at a general meeting to all or a particular lot owner to make additions to, or alter, common property. They can pass on an exclusive use by-law which gives the owner the use (not ownership) of that area of common property and makes them responsible for the repair and maintenance of the area, otherwise the Owners Corporation is responsible. An exclusive use by-law must be registered with Department of Lands within two years.

Now to answer the original questions:

Who is responsible for pruning trees on the property?

If the trees are common property, it is the Owners Corporation responsibility. If the trees are part of your lot – you are responsible as the owner.

Who is responsible for looking after the wheelie bins?

The owners (or residents) are responsible for putting their own bins out, bringing them in, and keeping them clean. The Owners Corporation usually owns the bins.

We want to use the garden area outside my unit just for ourselves. Can we do this?

If it is part of your lot, yes. If it is common property, you will need to get the permission of the Owners Corporation. This usually requires an exclusive use by-law to be passed by special resolution (75% of members of the Owners Corporation have to vote for it) at a general meeting.

We want to park in a section of the driveway that’s common property. Can we get permission to do this?

Send a written request to the Secretary or Strata Managing Agent. Permission should then be voted on at a general or executive committee meeting.

Can we do our own repairs to common property?

Only if you have the permission of the Owners Corporation. If common property needs repair or maintenance, the Owners Corporation would undertake that work, not an individual owner.

Can we do anything we like to our backyard?

If your backyard is part of your lot, you can do anything as long as it doesn’t breach by-laws, for example, you must not damage common property or create disturbing noises.

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