What is Common Property and what isn't?
Updated: Sep 6, 2021
Strata and Property FAQ’s
Depending on the number of units in your property group or the layout of your complex, it might not always be easy to determine what is common property and what isn't.
A strata title is usually associated with townhouses and units and divides the land into units owned by individuals and common areas, which are jointly shared and owned by all titleholders in the group. The cause of many disputes is often around the determination of what is and is not common property.
The Strata Titles Act defines common property as:
(a) Any land or space that is not within a unit;
(b) Any pipe, cable, wire, duct or drain that is not for the exclusive use of a unit;
(c) Any structure that is not for the exclusive use of a unit installed before the deposit of the strata plan;
(d) Any structure installed by a strata corporation as part of the common property;
(e) Any other structure on the site committed to the care of a strata corporation as part of the common property.
Unless otherwise indicated on the strata plan, the boundary of a unit is the internal surface of the walls, floors and ceilings. To simplify, the roof, guttering, external walls and foundations are common property.
The term Unit Subsidiary relates to an area defined on the plan which is not common property but to which a unit has exclusive use, such as a balcony, yard or carport.
To better understand common property, take the example of main drain plumbing. For example, the drain from the street into the complex, which is servicing all units, is considered common property. Where this main drain then "branches" off into separate "feeds" or drains, these pipes would fall under the unit owner's plumbing responsibility, as these branch drains service only their unit.
A resident reports a cracked roof tile. Even if the cracked tile is positioned perfectly over one unit, the whole roof is considered common property and, as such, would be a strata's responsibility to repair.
Likewise, with original windows, even if they are located at a particular unit, they are part of the original building structure and are considered common property.
Understanding the definition of common property is vital for Unit Owners, Property Managers, and Tenants if an emergency maintenance item arises. Knowing who to report the concern to is necessary to ensure the issue is resolved promptly and the appropriate party is invoiced the cost of the repairs. When in doubt, contact your Strata Manager.
Common property queries? Need help with your strata issues? Contact Horner Management to see how we can help your strata group.