From: Kristine .
On 10/11/01 4:02:00 PM, Jacinta Thomler wrote:
>>The tenant also hung heavy curtains on
>>the rods which have "torn" the
>>plasterboard. Nobody wants to cover this
>>either because it was not malicious, is
>>part of the building but not the external
>>wall which is common property. It is not
>>classed as contents though I could
>>probably claim some paint after the
>>gyprock was fixed.
>My understanding of strata is
>that you own from the internal
>paint. This means body
>corporate owns your internal
>walls too. So the damage from
>the curtain rod should fall
>under body corporate.
There is no 'hard and fast' rule regarding boundaries. You would have to check your individual title. Some 'strata' units have the title boundary through the air cavity space of the wall, others include the whole wall, others have the underside of the ceiling/upper floor, etc. The body corporate usually has no responsibility for the interior of a unit, the plumbing which may pass over or through the units, the electrics etc It may, however, have some burden of responsibility for maintenance, damage or replacement if there is a reticulated hot water or heating system.
As to the body corporate 'owning' anything, not so. The body corporate is simply the incorporated ie legal identity of the group of owners as a whole, and it is the owners who then have common, ie undivided shares, in the garden, structure, roof, foundations or whatever. A body corporate may sue, be sued, hold bank accounts, file tax returns and generally behave as a legal entity.
In Victoria, as soon as the plan of subdivision is registered at the Titles Office, the plan is accorded a number, and the body corporate immediately comes into legal existence with the same number. However, while the subdivision remains under one ownership, the body corporate may not be active in a meeting sense (that would be a small meeting!), but must still meet its obligations with regards to insurance, both building and public liability, etc
Once multiple ownership occurs, the various owners are required to convene the first general meeting of the body corporate usually within fifteen months and annually thereafter. The body corporate may draft a budget and set contributions, and these are claimable under law. When I was a body corporate manager (over 80 properties) one of the bodies corporate was in the process of suing an owner for the recovery of unpaid fees, interest and legal costs.
The body corporate (owners) may decide to appoint a body corporate manager, and this does not necessarily have to be a licensed estate agent. The body corporate may have its own bank accounts, with owners as signatories, and thus any owner, or the local accountant, or a specialist body corporate management company etc, may keep the books. However, if the accounts earn interest, the body corporate will be required to lodge tax returns.
Sinking funds, unfortunately, are not as common as they should be. Funds may be calculated for eg repairs to common driveways, repainting the exterior, removal of trees or whatever is necessary, and a budget amount decided upon to make provision for this future expense. Should an owner sell, their contributed funds remain in the common fund, and their share then becomes an asset of their unit upon sale. They may wish to make adjustments at settlement for this, but it is generally regarded as a 'financial' improvement to the property as if the improvement had already happened in a factual sense.
Regarding individual owners painting the exteriors of their units in individual colours, some developments encourage this as it minimises the box like appearance of some developments. Most, however, have included resolutions in minutes of meetings, or have even lodged 'special rules' with the Titles Office regarding uniform presentation of the development, and a registered colour scheme.
The Standard Rules of Bodies Corporate are prepared by legislation and may only be changed or added to by resolution of the body corporate and actual registration on the title of the property/ies with the Titles Office. These are legal matters and run with the title. However, the only recourse individual owners may have against an individual not 'playing by the rules' is to apply to VCAT or to take a civil action for compliance. Not as costly as it sounds, but more bluff than bluster, as enforcement by the Magistrates Court can certainly be costly and time consuming, to say nothing of creating discord amoung a group of neighbours.
In Victoria and probably other states as well, you can actually read legislation on line. The Subdivisions Act of 1988 has all necessary information and reading this will remove uncertainty when dealing with any subdivided development.
If you own or live in a multi-unit development, the cost of a copy of the Act and the associated Regulations is only a few dollars and can be ordered over the phone. Having a copy handy could certainly help dispel myths and perhaps avoid misunderstandings created by hearsay.
Hope this is of some help