What is a Strata Title?

Donn Saylor

A strata title is a type of property ownership in which residents of multilevel apartment blocks own their apartments but also share joint ownership of common areas. Under a strata title, land is subdivided vertically, and the land on which the property sits is divided into public areas and lots. This form of ownership is predominantly found in Australia, Canada, India, South Africa, the Philippines, and Singapore. It is similar in nature to a condominium building in the United States or a commonhold ownership in the United Kingdom and Wales.

In some countries, a strata title is similar in nature to a condominium building in the United States.
In some countries, a strata title is similar in nature to a condominium building in the United States.

The first strata title was introduced by the Australian state of New South Wales in 1961. It was subsequently utilized under various names in all other Australian states, and over the ensuing decades, the country has remained at the forefront of this style of property law. Government officials regularly analyze new data on strata titles in an attempt to address the needs of apartment and condominium owners and the unique challenges that come with communal living arrangements.

Strata titles designate and divide real estate into lots and common areas. A lot is defined as the apartment, condominium, or living unit itself, while the common areas encompass portions of the land surrounding the building and shared public spaces within the structure. Inside the building, a common area could be an elevator, lobby, parking garage, staircase, or any other vicinity utilized by all residents.

Common areas, however, are typically not specifically designated by a strata title. Instead, common areas are called such only after the surveyor has subdivided the property into lots, and these shared spaces are the areas left over from the subdivision of land. Naturally, it is normal for certain common areas — or parts of common areas — to fall within a resident's personal lot. In these instances, the common area is still regarded as a public space with communal access and is not under the sole control of the resident who owns the lot.

Once a strata title in registered under the law, it has a committee of administrators who work together to oversee its smooth operation. The main responsibility of the committee is to draft and revise policy for the overall function of the property. After the committee has made new policies or updated existing ones, volunteer "office bearers" are charged with ensuring the new rules are followed. The committee and the office bearers are both guided by the advice of a professional administrative liaison, typically known as a body corporate manager or strata managing agent.

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