Purchasing commercial properties can be a valuable investment but there are numerous important decisions which need to be made to determine how profitable that investment will be. One of the most significant is what kind of investment property you may be purchasing – Torrens (freehold) or Strata title? This article will examine both of these properties and some of the considerations you should take into account when deciding which property investment is best for you.
Torrens Title (freehold) investment properties
A Torrens title property grants the purchaser sole ownership and control of the home and the land on which it is built.
This provides the owner with the power to renovate the property as they choose, without the need for approval from a body corporate (or Owners Corporation). This is the more traditional form of property ownership and involves registering your Certificate of Title with the NSW land title system.
Things to consider:
- Freehold investment properties are often more expensive than Strata titles. This is compounded by the maintenance costs associated with the property for which the owner is liable.
- Outgoing costs are usually greater than that of Strata title investment properties.
- Freehold investment properties are potentially the better choice for investors who would like control and have greater financial resources available.
Strata title investment properties
A Strata title property is typically a unit, apartment or townhouse which forms part of a common piece of land, with different owners living in their separate properties within the one complex or block.
Investing in Strata titles only provides the landowner with control over their section of an individual building. Unlike in a freehold investment, the body corporate regulates the use of the land and external structures. This means that all changes or renovations which may impact the building holistically or a common area such as driveways, walkways or gardens, require the body corporate’s approval.
Things to consider:
- Purchasers should note the Strata complex’s associated by-laws before deciding to invest. These are the rules and regulations regarding the property complex, and it is important they are compatible for your plans for the property or lifestyle if you intend to live in it for any period.
- Owners of Strata title are required to pay for maintenance of the common areas, through the ongoing quarterly fees and strata levy, as well as for their own future repairs and maintenance.
- Outgoing costs are usually less than those for freehold properties, and are relevant to the individual lot rather than the whole building.
A solicitor at Etheringtons Solicitors can assist with ascertaining the financial health of the Owners Corporation for the Strata complex by obtaining a report that shows the levies paid by the individual owners and the money available in the funds to maintain the common property.
How Etheringtons Solicitors can help
A solicitor at Etheringtons Solicitors can provide clarification of the relevant law in relation to your individual circumstances. Etheringtons Solicitors can assist with your property purchase. If you need further advice or assistance with property or strata law matters, please contact one of our experienced solicitors on (02) 9963 9800 or via our contact form.
Keeping Pets in Strata Schemes – Can You Have Pets in an Apartment?
Have you ever been forced to choose between keeping your pet and living in a strata building? You are not alone. Did you know that Australia has one of the highest household rates of pet ownership in the world? Yet more and more Australians are living in apartments and townhouses, where their strata schemes may not allow pets.
In this article, we explore the NSW Strata laws in relation to keeping pets in a strata building. But first, a quick recap of strata schemes.
Strata Laws, By-Laws and Owners Corporation
If you live in an apartment or townhouse, then you are probably living in a strata scheme. The Strata laws (Strata Schemes Management Act 2015 (NSW) regulate an Owners Corporation’s rights and responsibilities. All the owners in a strata scheme make up the Owners Corporation.. Owners Corporations can adopt the model by-laws that are set out in the Act, or they can amend them or write their own.
Can I Keep My Pet in a Strata Scheme?
This depends on the by-laws that apply to your strata scheme.
Previously, the model by-laws excluded pets unless the owner was given permission. The new strata laws amended the model by-law to be more pet-friendly, as it encourages schemes to allow pets rather than ban them altogether.
The new model by-law for pets includes two options for new schemes to choose from:
- Option A– An owner or occupier may keep a pet if they give the Owners Corporation written notice.
- Option B– An owner or occupier may keep a pet with the written approval of the Owners Corporations. The Owners Corporation cannot unreasonably refuse the owner or occupier permission to keep their pet.
What if I am a tenant living in a strata scheme?
If you are either a prospective tenant or currently a tenant living in a strata scheme, you will still need permission from your landlord to keep a pet in your apartment or townhouse.
Seek Legal Advice
It is important to be fully aware of your obligations under your strata scheme in relation to retention of pet. If you would like further information regarding strata schemes or general strata law advice, please do not hesitate to contact one of our experienced solicitors on 9963 9800 or via our contact form here.
It is an uncertain time for everyone with the rapid increase of COVID-19 infections and government restrictions. To slow the spread of the virus, the protective measures may last up to six (6) months. There may also be further restrictions. Such measures have a momentous impact on those who live in a strata complex.
Due to the rise of high density living, more and more people are living in strata buildings where resources, assets and facilities are shared. This means that strata residents have higher risk of exposure to virus. Think of how many people touch lift buttons, the stair rail and entrance door handles. This is an unfortunate reality for many, which can be extremely difficult to avoid. Social distancing is almost impossible in high rise lifts.
Where there is someone that lives or works in the building, or even someone who has visited the building, has a confirmed case of COVID-19 or has been asked to self-isolate, there may be an obligation for the strata corporation to notify the building residents. This can be easily done by sending out notices and placing further notices in the common areas. For privacy reasons owners corporations cannot disclose the name, the unit number or any other information which might identify the person(s) who has contracted the virus or is required to self-isolate.
2. Repair and Maintenance
Owners corporations are responsible, under the Strata Schemes Management Act 2015 (NSW), to repair and maintain common property. In doing so, owners corporations should be proactive and take the necessary precautions to ensure the building is safe and protect their residents from the risk of the virus spreading. Where possible, these include:
- closing amenity rooms;
- closing recreational facilities;
- increasing cleaning and sanitisation protocols in the building;
- installing sanitisation stations, if possible;
- encouraging residents to use proper hygiene measures and to self-isolate; and
- restricting meetings.
3. Health and Safety for workers
Where a contractor is working on site, owners corporations have legal obligation to upkeep the health and safety of the workplace. This includes taking the necessary precautions to protect workers from harm, including the risk of contracting COVID-19.
4. Restrict AGM, EGM and other meetings
Recently, the government has implemented strict social distancing rules which include:
- all persons should be at least 1.5 metres apart;
- there should only be 1 person per 4 sqm indoor; and
- public gatherings must be avoided altogether.
With such strict measures, this limits the ability for owners corporations to hold general meetings. If a meeting must be held and approvals are required, you should consider:
- holding an electronic meeting (video conferencing), where possible;
- asking every owner to sign a waiver to waive the requirement to hold a meeting and consent to the resolutions at the resolutions of the meeting; or
- holding the meeting but ensure it is held at a venue which accommodates for the current social distancing rules (outdoor space) but this would only be possible for smaller body corporates.
We recommend that you seek legal advice before deciding whether or not to hold a meeting.
It is important to be fully aware of your obligations and options during these difficult times. If you would like further information, please do not hesitate to contact one of our experienced strata law solicitors on 9963 9800 or via our contact form.
More information about COVID-19 can be found here: www.health.gov.au