Titles, zones, codes, policies - governed, policed and implemented by various departments - make a veritable minefield for the potential developer. There are many pitfalls, the process can be long and arduous, and many projects fall by the wayside because the owners, who decided to "DIY", simply found it too difficult and frustrating. We are here to help.
Originally Strata Titles were introduced to provide for separate ownership of individual units in multi-storey buildings. The current Strata Title Act allows for the division of a single land title into smaller lots and, today, ground-level developments have been included - which has seen Strata Title sub-divisions become popular over recent years.
There are three common forms of titling for residential development in Western Australia:
Survey Strata Title
Strata Plans of sub-division and Survey Strata Plans of sub-division are the two types of Strata Scheme commonly seen for duplexes, triplexes, townhouses and units.
A Strata Scheme is the division of a parcel of land or buildings into lots, the allocation of unit entitlement, and the rights and obligations of proprietors to use, and maintain, the lots and common property.
Owners of Strata Title lots may wish to convert to green Title to avoid joint-responsibility for insurance and/or maintenance of common property. Such applications may be approved, provided the proposal complies with the "R Code" requirements", boundary clearances, minimum and average lot sizes, as well as the Commission's policy on "battleaxe" sub-division. This policy requires a minimum effective lot size of 400 sq.m for lots in areas coded R25 and above. Each of the proposed new lots will require street frontage for vehicular access. Road frontage to a private right-of-way only is not sufficient for conventional sub-division.
Two types of schemes are permitted under the Strata Titles Act 1985 - Strata Plans and Survey Strata Plans.
1) Strata Plan
A Strata Plan is the mechanism for creating strata schemes and strata titles under the Strata Titles Act 1985 as Amended. Strata plans define the lots in a strata scheme (areas owned individually) and common property (areas owned jointly by all lot owners in the strata scheme). Strata lots are limited in height and depth (the stratum of the lot). Strata plans show a building on at least one lot of the Strata Plan and stratum of the lots is always linked to buildings shown on the plan.
2) Survey Strata Plan
A Survey Strata Plan is the mechanism for creating survey strata schemes and survey strata titles under the Strata Titles Act 1985 as Amended. Survey Strata Plans define the lots in a survey strata scheme, which are the areas in the scheme owned individually. Common property areas owned jointly by all lot owners may, or may not exist in survey strata schemes and are defined as "common property lots". Survey strata lots may be limited in height and depth but generally are not. No buildings are shown on Survey Strata Plans.
Common property is property which is jointly owned by all of the owners in the strata scheme and is not contained within any individual lot.
Many strata owners believe that there is no common property in their scheme, and that they own the whole of "their strata unit" (i.e. the building in which they live) and the surrounding garden and carport area. However, in many cases this is not correct.
Due to changes to the Strata Titles Act, and different ways in which Strata Plans have been prepared, a number of individual ownership/ common property scenarios exist.
In general terms, common property on Strata Plans is any land not comprised within a lot shown in the plan, and land leased to increase the area of common property.
Common property in a Survey Strata Plan is noted with the letters "CP".
The Strata Titles Act 1985 (STA) defines unit entitlement as establishing the following:
The voting rights of a proprietor
The undivided share of each proprietor in the common property
The proportion payable by each proprietor of contributions levied
Strata Plans show the relative proportion of each owner's share in the scheme. This is called unit entitlement and is set by a Licensed Valuer. In a strata scheme, the unit entitlement of strata lots is calculated to take into account the capital value of buildings on strata lots as well as the land (whether it is common property or individually owned).
The unit entitlement of survey strata lots is calculated on the unimproved site value of the lots and ignores the value of any buildings on the lots.