If you have lived in either a townhouse or an apartment in South Australia, then you might know something about Strata Title and fees.
Here is everything you need to know about a strata scheme and its fee.
What is a Strata Titled property?
Strata titled properties are a form of property type for which you can own and invest. It is significantly different from Torrens titled properties where you own your whole property and the land it encompasses. With a Strata property, you will own a section of common land and common property and become a member of a community of Owners with responsibilities and obligations towards one another.
This is not just limited to residential buildings as you can have a strata-titled property for commercial buildings as well.
Here are the many types of building that may be part of a Strata Titled Property:
- Industrial unit
- Retail shops
So why are there costs/strata fees/ levies ongoing for a Strata Corporation and what are these fees comprised of?
What Is Strata Fee?
Strata Fees are more commonly known as strata levies or contributions. These are the funds being raised to put towards the groups ongoing running costs, maintenance and insurance. The maintenance is specifically for common areas such as driveways, pool, building exteriors, etc., and not the inside of your apartment.
Some of the recurrent expenses may include maintenance to:
driveways, garden, pool, elevators, stairs, lobby, and the exterior structure of the property.
The frequency and amount of fee that everyone needs to contribute are decided annually at the AGM. This, of course, also varies between the different states and depends on the strata laws in place.
However, there are three main types of strata fees:
- Administrative Fund Levies: These are expenses incurred each year such as cleaning, electricity, plumbing, gardening, insurance, etc.
- Sinking Fund Levies: These are expenses made for long-term upkeep and maintenance work, not occurring every year.
- Special Levies: these are generally one-off levies called for a specific purpose such as unknown maintenance, emergency works and shortage of funds
How is the Strata Fees Calculated?
The strata fee that you need to contribute is decided by the body corporate at the AGM. The Members determine the amount that needs to be paid by owners, but after reviewing and considering a budget put together by your groups Manager or the Committee.
Members can accept the budget or vote to amend it. However, this budget needs to take into consideration all the groups ongoing regular expenses and any unexpected expenses that may come.
The strata fees will be different for every Strata unit complex, depending on the recurrent expenses that are required and/or agreed to by the Members. Some groups, for example, may have common lighting as a recurrent expense and others may not. Factors which go into determining these fees include:
the age, location, and type of property, insurance costs, operational costs, amenities and more.
In some Strata Corporations, there may be other premium amenities that can also add to the costs of the group such as:
pools, gyms, elevators, function centres and much more.
All of this will increase your strata fees needed to cover the ongoing costs.
This fee may be set to be paid in a variety frequency options, such as paying your contributions/ levies. annually or quarterly (most common). This will be decided at your AGM.
Are Strata Fees Negotiable?
The group can review and determine how and when funds are raised for certain items, and collectively the group can negotiate at a meeting, what the fees will need to be in order to ensure the group meets its obligations. Some of the groups costs, for example, are quite fixed, Members can obtain quotes for items to try and lower the ongoing costs, or one-off maintenance costs. Still, the need to do the works, or to meet their electricity costs, for example, cannot be removed from a budget as they need to be met, and so the group must ensure that whatever levy/ fees are being raised, are sufficient to meet the groups needs.
If enough funds aren’t raised, the group could find that there is an impact on the health and safety of the residents in the building.
Once the Members set a contribution level/ levy at a meeting, each Owner has an obligation to pay these levies to ensure compliance under the Strata Titles Act 1988 and to ensure that the group can meet its costs.
Before you decide to invest/own in a strata property, you need to understand all these factors, so you are aware of your obligations and the costs of the group. You must do your research, so you know how everything works before you make an informed decision.