TenantsTips / Australia / What is a strata scheme for tenants?

What is a strata scheme for tenants?

First of all, if you are considering renting a property under a strata scheme it is important to understand exactly what a strata scheme is. Strata Schemes exist where properties do not fall under the stand alone category.

For example an apartment within a complex with common or shared ground or a town house or unit joined in a block with common land. These types of properties would fall under the strata scheme category because they are properties which share certain living areas such as gardens, parking areas, or swimming pools. Strata Scheme properties often share certain aspects of a building, such as roofing and foundation walls. Strata schemes can provide well maintained properties at an affordable cost and are also renowned for creating friendly and safe living communities. However, a good understanding of obligations and responsibility is needed by all tenants for these schemes to work positively and effectively.

Who manages strata schemes?

Strata schemes are managed by the owners corporation which consists of the individual owners of properties such as apartments or units within a strata category building. The owners corporation may however appoint an agent to deal with day to day management. Each landlord in the owners corporation is responsible for the maintenance and any necessary repairs on the apartments that they own. However, any maintenance or repairs required on shared or common buildings falls under the responsibility of the owners corporation.

What are tenant responsibilities in a Strata Scheme?

So what are your obligations and responsibilities as a tenant? Well, this will differ from scheme to scheme, so when you look at a prospective property ask questions and get as much information as possible from your estate agent. The main responsibility of a tenant is to make sure that they understand their tenancy agreement. The tenancy agreement will be given to you at the beginning of your tenancy. You should read it thoroughly and take the time to familiarize yourself with the responsibilities outlined. Tenant responsibilities include things like keeping the property maintained to the standard it was in when you entered into the agreement, reporting maintenance issues to the landlord and general duties like keeping the property clean and tidy so that it does not become a health or fire hazard. If you are well informed and know your responsibilities and rights this will protect you and ensure that you know how to deal with any disputes that may arise.

If you go ahead and decide to rent a property, your landlord is obliged to give you a copy of the owners corporation by-laws within seven days of moving into the premises. Any by-laws set out by the owners corporation should be registered with the appropriate land & property management authority in the area.

What are by-laws?

By-laws are simply any rules set out by the owners corporation for managing a strata scheme. As tenants who rent under a strata scheme will be sharing some common areas within a property, it is necessary to apply some restrictions. Some owners corporations set house rules which all tenants are expected to agree on and comply with in order to ensure a safe and friendly living environment. Common examples of by-laws include rules like ‘no bicycles to be chained in the stairwell’ and ‘no access to the rooftop after 10 pm’.

What rights do I have?

As a strata scheme tenant you have rights under the Residential Tenancies Act (2010), the Residential Tenancies Regulation (2010) and the Strata Schemes Management Act (1996).

Who should I contact if there is a problem?

If you have any problems with your tenancy or any disputes or problems your first point of contact should be your landlord. Maintaining a good relationship with your landlord where you can be honest and open about any issues is the best way to resolve any problems. Your landlord is committed to ensuring that your tenancy agreement is upheld and should deal with any problems quickly and effectively. If the problem is the landlord’s responsibility, such an interior problem in your apartment, he or she should arrange for the appropriate maintenance or repairs. If the problem is within an area maintained by the owners’ corporation your landlord will be able to bring this to attention at an owners corporation meeting.

What if there is a dispute?

If an issue turns into a dispute tenants are advised to refer to the information outlined in the Strata Schemes Management Act (1996). This document sets out the process for resolving disputes between occupants of strata schemes or disputes between the owners’ corporation and an occupant.



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