Definition of strata title
strata title (plural strata titles)
- A form of title over parts of real property (originally designed to facilitate ownership and mortgage of separate parts of a building, often on multiple levels). This type of title, so called in Australia, Singapore, British Columbia and elsewhere is also known as "condominium", "commonhold" and "sectional title" in other jurisdictions. Usually some "common property" is the responsibility of all strata title holders via an owner's corporation.
Strata title is a form of ownership devised for multi-level apartment blocks and horizontal subdivisions with shared areas. The 'strata' part of the term refers to apartments being on different levels, or "strata".
Strata title was first introduced in 1961 in the state of New South Wales, Australia, to better cope with the legal ownership of apartment blocks. Previously, the only adequate method of dividing ownership was company title, which suffered from a number of defects, such as the difficulty of instituting mortgages. This term also applies to house-type strata title units in Australia.
Other countries that have adopted the Australian system (or a similar variant) of apartment ownership include
- Canada (Alberta,British Columbia)
- South Africa
- The Philippines
- Abu Dhabi (under draft as at 2010)
Other countries have legislation based on similar principles but with different definitions and using different mechanisms in their administration.
Strata Title Schemes are composed of individual lots and common property. Lots are either apartments, garages or storerooms and each is shown on the title as being owned by a Lot Owner. Common Property is defined as everything else on the parcel of land that is not comprised in a Lot, such as common stairwells, driveways, roofs, gardens and so on.
- Strata Titles
Strata titles involve the vertical subdivision of land and the building on the land into lots and common property. The lots comprise the units or apartments while the common property comprises the land above, below and around the building, as well as common facilities within the building (such as foyers, elevators, stairs, landings, car park, driveways and a range of equipment).
The lots are effectively parcels of "airspace" usually bounded by floors, walls and ceilings as defined on a plan drawn by a surveyor and registered in the local titles office. The common property is everything that is left after the lots are taken out of the original land parcel. Because of this approach the plan does not actually define the common property. Sometimes there are structural features and services located within a lot but which serve other lots. These are usually deemed to be common property even though they are situated within a lot.
- Community Titles
Community titles involve the horizontal subdivision of land (usually without involving buildings) into lots and common property. The lots usually comprise building parcels, although it is common for the buildings to be constructed on the proposed lots before the plan is registered.
Strata title subdivisions cannot be undertaken until the building structures are in place. This is because the surveyor uses the physical structure (floors, walls and ceilings) to define the boundaries of the lots.
Every land parcel and/or building subdivided by a strata or community titles plan has both lots and common property. The boundary between the two depends upon:
- how the particular plan has been drawn;
- and the rules of the particular jurisdiction relating to boundaries.
- Original Owner
The lots are initially owned by the developer (sometimes called the "original owner"). The developer transfers the lots to the first purchasers while the common property becomes the responsibility of a body corporate.
- Lot Entitlements
Each lot in a scheme has a lot (or unit) entitlement. When added together they comprise the aggregate lot entitlement.
In Queensland there are 2 types of entitlements, interest schedule lot entitlements and contribution schedule lot entitlements.
The lot entitlements determine:
- Share of ownership of the common property
- Voting entitlement on a poll
- Contributions (or levies) payable for the particular lot
- Entitlement to distribution of surplus assets (upon a distribution or winding up)
- Liability for rates and taxes. They are like the lot owners "shareholding" in the body corporate.
- Body Corporate
When a strata or community titles plan is registered it becomes a legal person much like a company. This legal person takes on the role of a management company of the apartment complex, and is typically referred to in legislation as a "body corporate" (in Queensland), an "owners corporation" (in New South Wales) or as a "community corporation" (in South Australia).
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