Ask about strata title conditions
Apartment living in Perth is becoming increasingly popular, and as a result we are seeing the composition of Perth’s property landscape slowly transition to include more multi-dwelling living options in the CBD and surrounding areas.
One of the biggest differences associated with living in apartments, townhouses and villas is that they are most commonly part of a strata-titled complex. Compared with buying a standalone house on the more traditional green-titled lots, properties that are part of a strata title require additional considerations from buyers.
The first consideration is to find out how well the building is managed. When you buy into a strata complex, you own your dwelling but anything that’s deemed common property is owned by the strata company, which has an obligation to repair and maintain it.
To fund this maintenance, each owner is required to pay a levy which is used for budgeted expenditure over the coming year.
There may also be a levy for a “sinking fund” set aside for any long-term expenditure.
If this is the case, inquire about the current balance.
Before buying, find out what levies you are required to pay.
Features such as a swimming pool or lifts can increase levy amounts as they generally need more maintenance.
The real estate agent selling the property can explain the details of the strata and obtain a copy of the latest strata company budget, as well as a statement of what’s already been spent.
They should be able to provide the minutes of the last annual general meeting for the strata building.
Ask for a copy of the building’s strata plan, which provides an explanation of where the boundaries lie. In many cases, you are purchasing only the internal spaces of your apartment, with everything external to this considered common property.
You should also determine if the strata lot has any areas of exclusive use, such as a balcony or courtyard.
Exclusive use areas remain as common property, but you have exclusive use of that space and responsibility to maintain it.
Finally, there are a set of by-laws, standard to every strata company, which are sometimes supplemented by additional by-laws. These by-laws might be adopted by the strata company after approval by the property owners, and can include things such as restrictions on pets being kept by owners.