Maintenance in strata title properties: who is responsible?

Strata title property

We recently wrote an article on maintenance responsibilities in regular Perth rental properties, but what happens when that rental property is part of a strata title scheme? Due to differences in types of building ownership within strata title schemes, it can be difficult for strata managers and landlords to know whether maintenance responsibilities lie with the strata company or with the private property owner. So how do you determine who is responsible for strata property maintenance?

Common property vs. individual lots

If you’ve invested in a strata title property, responsibility for property maintenance will ultimately depend on who actually owns the building – you (the property owner) or the strata company. Determining this should be fairly straightforward, as there can only be two categories of ownership on strata or survey-strata plans: privately owned lots or common property. As a rule, property owners are responsible for maintaining their individual lots, and the strata company is responsible for maintaining anything classified as common property (this may include lawns, gardens, structural elements of a building, and wiring or pipes located on common property walls).

Determining lot boundaries

So once you know the different types of ownership and who is responsible for what, how do you determine which parts of the strata title scheme are classified as your lot (i.e. which areas are your maintenance responsibility)? Information regarding the boundaries of each lot will be included as part of the strata or strata-survey plans. These will detail the lot boundaries with either (or both) diagrams, dimensions and written notations. Anything defined as a lot, including buildings within the lot, will be the responsibility of individual lot owners.

Determining ownership of the building

So you know which internal elements of the strata title property are your responsibility, but who is responsible for maintaining the building structure? To determine ownership of the building, you or your property manager will need to refer to the information provided in your strata plan. The plan will usually contain a description detailing whether the building structure is owned by private lot owners. If this description is missing, the building structure will be considered common property, meaning maintenance responsibilities lie with the strata company. In the case of survey-strata plans, any area shown as a lot (including buildings within those areas) will be the maintenance responsibility of the individual owner.

Are there any exceptions to the rule?

The biggest exception to this strata rule is the case of single tier strata schemes (that is, a strata scheme in which no part of a lot sits below or above another lot). For single tier schemes registered before January 1998, the building may remain common property (as opposed to privately owned by individual lot proprietors) in the case where the scheme rejected the strata title law changes of 1997. This automatic merger saw the conversion of buildings and land to individual ownership. Secondly, another exemption may exist if a by-law has been passed stating that each individual owner is responsible for a specific area of the strata complex. For example, a front garden may classify as common property, but a by-law could be passed stating that each owner is responsible for the maintenance of their own front courtyard. This information will be detailed in the Management Statement and by-laws for the strata complex.

Manage your property with Rentwest

The Perth property management team at Rentwest are dedicated to staying up-to-date with the latest changes in property ownership laws. If you have invested in Perth property and need help managing your assets, our experienced team of property managers can help you make the most out of your investment. Whether it’s organising maintenance, managing rental collection or advertising your latest Perth rental property, our team can offer you the advice and support you need to take the stress out of property ownership.

For more information about our property management solutions, or for advice on your managed properties, message our Perth property management team on rentals@rentwest.com.au or call us on 9314 9888.

Note: This information is of a general nature only. Rentwest recommends consulting a qualified professional for advice best suited to individual needs.