A quick guide to owners corporations
If you are an apartment or unit owner it is likely you are part of an owners corporation. As a member there are certain procedures that must be followed which you may not even be aware of. It is important that owners corporation members and committee members understand these procedures, their rights and responsibilities.
What is an owners corporation?
An owners corporation comes into effect when a plan of subdivision containing common property is registered with Land Victoria.
An owners corporation has an obligation to manage, administer, repair and maintain the common property of a development. Whilst the owners corporation oversees common property, its powers extend to enforcing the owners corporation rules applicable to private property.
Owners corporations raise annual levies in order to comply with their functions to look after common property. Each property owner must pay levies which are apportioned in accordance with lot liability as outlined in the plan of subdivision.
How do you distinguish private property from common property?
Property owners often make the mistake of presuming this is self-explanatory, with common property being areas such as driveways and courtyards, areas where each property owner is able to use and enjoy the premises. However, on many occasions the line for what is, and what isn’t common property can become quite blurred.
The plan of subdivision outlines boundaries of common property and private property. For example the boundaries are defined as ‘interior face of all boundaries’, which means that anything inwards from the surface of the internal wall is private property, and anything outwards of the wall is common property.
In this example, the property owner may be precluded from rendering the outside of the house or painting the external walls, and may require a special resolution being passed by the owners corporation in order to be given the power to do so.
Owners corporation rules
The owners corporation rules will outline health & safety, management, use of common property, use of lots, behaviour and dispute resolution.
It may also have its own rules which have been prepared by the owners corporation manager or the committee, otherwise the standard owners corporation model rules apply.
What if there is defective work?
Each property owner will have a claim for their own property, however where there is defective work to common property, a property owner will require the owners corporation to seek rectification or initiate proceedings subject to a special resolution being passed.
The procedures involved with owners corporations can become quite complicated and where they are not followed it can result in costly consequences. This is why it is imperative for property owners or committees to ensure they are compliant and are obtaining the right legal advice.
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*this article was first published in the Weekly Review - https://issuu.com/theweeklyreview.com.au/docs/gee-greatergeelong-20160519-iss/1