What is a strata scheme?

Strata schemes are effectively small communities where the activities and attitudes of residents can have a significant impact on the satisfaction and enjoyment of others. Therefore, it is important to be aware of your responsibilities and obligations when you own or live in a strata unit.

Whilst strata living can provide a friendly community style environment, it helps to remember that it is not the same as living in a freestanding house. Some activities may be more restricted in a strata scheme, for example, where you can park your car, hang your washing or when and how you can renovate. Understanding these differences before buying or moving into a strata scheme can help reduce the likelihood of disputes over these activities later on.

The key features of living in a strata scheme are:

  • you own your unit or apartment as well as sharing ownership and responsibility for ‘common property’
  • if you own your unit, you are automatically a member of the ‘owners corporation’ which has responsibility for common property
  • every 3 months you have to contribute to the cost of running the building through paying quarterly levies
  • you also have to pay money into a sinking fund, for future long term expenses such as painting the building or replacement of guttering
  • compared to living in a freestanding house, there will be lifestyle restrictions in a strata scheme, for example there are rules (by-laws) that may affect you doing renovations to your unit, that state where you can and cannot park your car, where you can dry washing or whether or not you can keep pets.