A Strata Plan is a subdivision of a parts of a building located on a parcel of Real Property into separate lots and common property. The boundaries of the lots in a strata plan are defined by permanent structures such as walls. Lots are limited in height and depth – for example if you own a strata unit on the first floor of a building, your lot will most likely be limited in height to the ceiling of your unit, and limited in depth to the floor of your unit. Parts of lots can be outside the building, for example courtyards and car spaces. These part lots are defined relative to the building and external boundaries of the land and are also limited in height and depth.

Each lot in a strata scheme is allocated a unit entitlement based on the value of the unit relative to other lots in the scheme. Each lot has a share of the common property based on the unit entitlement.

At the commencement of a strata scheme, an owners corporation is set up which is a body corporate of all of the lot owners in the scheme. The body corporate is responsible for maintenance and repairs of common property.

In October 2011, Land Registry Services NSW released a memorandum (AG520000) which clearly defines whether the lot owner or the owners corporation is responsible for items and areas in a strata scheme. For example, painting inside a lot is considered the responsibility of the lot owner, while window repairs are the responsibility of the owners corporation. It must be noted that unless this memorandum is specifically adopted by a strata scheme, the responsibilities are as set out in any by-laws for the scheme. Memorandum AG520000 can be adopted on new and existing strata schemes. Contact your surveyor for more information.

Strata schemes must adopt by-laws which are guidelines for the requirements on lot owners and the owners corporation within the scheme. By-laws set out rules for occupiers of strata lots and can address issues such as noise, damage to common property, hanging out washing, keeping of animals, appearance of the lot and other items. Memorandum AG520000 can be adopted in lieu of model or custom by-laws before or after the commencement of a scheme.

There are model by-laws for different types of strata subdivisions including residential schemes, retirement village schemes, commercial/retail schemes, industrial schemes, hotel/resort schemes and mixed use schemes. Model by-laws can be found in the Strata Schemes Management Regulation 2010.

Strata plans must be prepared by a Registered Surveyor and can only subdivide Torrens Title land. A strata plan can subdivide one or more lots in a deposited plan, provided that if there is more than one lot they are located adjacent to each other. This plan is known as the base plan.

The base plan for a strata subdivision must be a plan of survey which has connections to at least two permanent survey marks and have a building within its boundaries. The base plan cannot be a compiled plan, a lot in a neighbourhood plan, a perpetual lease from the crown, and cannot be a plan of qualified or limited title land. For this reason, it is often necessary to prepare a plan of redefinition on the land in order to create a suitable base plan prior to commencing a strata subdivision.

When a Strata Plan is registered, certificates of title are created for each lot and the common property within the scheme. The lots comprise the land as shown on the floor plan or plans, while common property comprises all of the land which is not part of a lot. Certificates of title for lots and common property in a strata scheme indicate the registered proprietor/s as well as any information and encumbrances such as easements, restrictions, covenants, positive covenants, mortgages, leases and so on.

For more information on strata subdivision and strata plans, visit the Land Registry Services NSW website, and speak to your surveyor. Compass Consulting Surveyors have wide and varied experience with strata plans or alternatives such as community or neighbourhood schemes and are happy to assist with your inquiry.

Eric Smith

Registered Surveyor