Shane McNally from Australian Property Investor writes: Around Australia, commonsense plays a major role in defining common and private property but the experts urge investors to take nothing for granted. Understanding your rights and obligations, they say, could prevent a lot of heartache and expense at a later stage.

The states and territories vary in their strata-title laws and what is the rule of thumb in one state may not be the case in another. We’ve asked the various experts to explain.
New South Wales

Wally Patterson from Dynamic Property Services advises buyers to study the registered strata plan. He says common property is any area of land or a building not included in a specific lot and that boundaries are generally formed by the upper surface of the floor, under surface of the ceiling and external boundary walls including doors and windows.

“The owners’ corporation looks after the common property including all repairs, unless agreed by a special resolution,” he adds. “This includes replacing and renewing common property.”
Patterson says floors including ramps and stairways, external walls, wiring and pipes servicing more than one lot, the slab dividing two storeys and even balcony doors could and often do constitute common property.
Victoria

In Victoria, when a plan of subdivision is registered, designated common or shared property is created and a body corporate is deemed to exist. Institute of Body Corporate Managers president Andrew Dawson says the balance of property on the plan of subdivision is generally private property plus easements.

“So as to determine private or common property, an apartment owner makes reference to the relative plan of subdivision which is always in the contract of sale,” he adds. “The plan of subdivision clearly defines private lots and common boundaries.”

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