Did you know that Australia has one of the more densely packed urban populations in the world? More than 86% of people live in major towns and cities, and this is increasing by more than 1% each year, so it's easy to understand both the congestion and those property prices. You may be thinking about contributing to the statistics yourself as you move from a rural location into the city, and as you do so, you will be getting used to the idea of living close to your neighbours rather than within shouting distance. A lot of this will be very different, so what do you need to know about this new style of living when it comes to your rights and obligations?
If you're thinking about buying a flat in a high-rise building, then you will enjoy a certain amount of common ownership with fellow residents. As this has to be structured in order to be successful, you will need to get used to the idea of an owners' corporation, which is a legal body with specific rights.
The owners' corporation will often be managed by a separate company, specifically appointed by the owners to do so. However, the owners themselves have the ultimate say in how the building and its common areas are looked after, and this will include hallways, gardens, lifts, garages and driveways. You will retain control over your own townhouse or apartment, but anything that is beyond your four walls will require joint control.
You may like to live an independent life and will still be able to do so, but it's in your interest to be proactive when it comes to engagement with the owners' corporation. At the least, you should commit to attending each annual meeting, as this is where the crucial decisions are made about the future of the building. Typically, the appointed managers will be re-elected at this point so that they can keep up with various administrative and legislative duties, but you need to be happy with their work and will need to sanction their future activities.
The managers will, in turn, provide you with some comprehensive records that will help you understand how everything is being maintained and give you a 'heads up' if any big decisions need to be made. A lot of this information will be made public and included within strata records, and these are very important in their own right, as you will see before you buy.
Doing Your Research
Start off your search by looking at individual buildings,so you can see if they fit in with your general requirements. If you're interested in a particular structure, ask your attorney to pull the records of the owners' corporation so you can see if it is well run, whether there are any hidden problems and if it's a sensible investment in your case.