1. What is common property?

Common property is all the areas of the land and building not included in any lot. It is jointly owned by all owners, and the owners corporation is responsible for its management.

The lot and common property will be defined on your individual strata plan. However, common property boundaries of each lot are generally formed by:

• the upper surface of the floor(but not including carpet)
• the under surface of the ceiling
• all external or boundary walls(including doors and windows)

Generally common property includes:

• floors including a ramp or stairway
• boundary walls including any door, window or other structure within the wall and their working parts
• ceramic tiles originally attached to a common property surface (eg. the floor or boundary wall)
• pipes in the common property or servicing more than one lot
• electrical wiring in the common property or servicing more than one lot
• parquet and floor boards originally installed
• vermiculite ceilings, plaster ceilings and cornices
• magnesite finishes on the floor
• balcony walls and doors are usually common property if the strata plan was registered after 1 July 1974(you must look at the registered strata plan)
• the slab dividing two storeys of the same lot, or one storey from an open space roof area or garden areas of a lot (eg. a townhouse or villa), is usually common property if the strata plan was registered after 1 July 1974, unless the registered strata plan says it is not. In addition structural cubic space is usually common property unless the registered strata plan shows that it forms part of the lot.

Structural cubic space includes:

• any pipes, wires, cables or ducts that are not for the enjoyment of a single lot
• any cubic space enclosed by a structure enclosing any of these pipes, wires, cables or ducts.

2. Alterations to common property by an individual owner

If an individual owner wants to alter or renovate any part of the common property they will also need the permission of the owners corporation.

The owners corporation can decide, by special resolution at a general meeting, to pass an exclusive use by-law which gives the owner the use (not ownership) of that area of common property and makes that owner responsible for the repair and maintenance of the area [s. 51–55]. If they fail to pass such a by-law, the owners corporation will remain responsible for that part of the common property.

An exclusive use by-law must be registered with LPMA within 2 years.

Any repairs or renovations to an individual lot that involve common property (for example, installing cable television or adding a new window) will need the permission of the owners corporation.

3. Who is responsible for pruning trees on the property?

If the trees are common property, it is the owners corporation’s responsibility. If the trees are part of your lot – you are responsible, as the owner. There may be restrictions on how tall the trees on your lot are allowed to grow. For more information contact the LPMA.

4. Who is responsible for looking after the wheelie bins?

The owners (or residents) are responsible for putting their own bins out, bringing them in, and keeping them clean. The owners corporation usually owns the bins.

5. I want to park in a section of the driveway that’s common property. Can I get permission to do this?

Send a written request to the secretary or strata managing agent. Permission should then be voted on at a general or executive committee meeting.

6. I want to get a dog. Do I need the owners corporation’s permission?

Check your by-laws first. Some schemes allow pets with the permission of the owners corporation – the executive committee can give this approval. Other schemes do not allow pets at all. If your by-law allows for pets then make a written request to the owners corporation and include any information to support your request, for example, information on the type of dog, how you will look after it and so on.

7. The owners of the unit above me pulled up their carpet and put down a floating floor.The owners corporation approved this, but it is very noisy. What can I do?

If talking to them about the noise hasn’t helped, and if you believe they have broken an existing by-law, either you or the owners corporation can apply for mediation. Another option is for the owners corporation to serve them with a Notice to Comply With a By-Law. If the unit is tenanted, the responsibility for treating or covering the floor still rests with the owner. However, you may have to take action against the tenants if they making an unreasonable amount of noise

8. My neighbour’s boyfriend stays over and parks his car in the visitors’ parking space every night. Is he really a visitor?

That is a matter for the owners corporation to decide at a meeting. If they consider him an occupier they may be able to take action against him for a breach of by-law