The fundamentals of a strata lot
Good day, readers. With so many of your queries concerning the matter of common property which I addressed over the last few weeks, I will, over the next few weeks, speak about strata properties and gated communities.
What is a strata lot?
A strata lot is defined in a plan lodged under the Strata Titles Act. It includes lots, wholly or partially, inside buildings, external lots (that maybe wholly or partially covered), and open space lots.
The Registration of Titles Act posits that a building located on land in Jamaica may be subdivided into strata lots, with the result that each lot, although adjoining another, on the top, or on the bottom, may have its own certificate of title.
In order for this to be done, a commissioned land surveyor must prepare a strata plan showing the various lots. A submission should then be made to the registrar of titles for registration.
It also states that upon registration of the strata plan, a strata corporation must be formed, which comprises the owners of the strata lots. The owners are then collectively responsible for the operation, maintenance, and upkeep of the strata complex.
This simply means that in a strata development, you own an area that may be vertically above the ground opposed to a piece of land. You, instead, own an area and have shares in the land, known as common areas. The owners are also required to pay a monthly amount, known as a maintenance fee, to help with the upkeep of the common areas.
Surveyors' Identification Reports (SRI) for strata lots
A commissioned land surveyor has to identify the strata lot and ensure that it is the same one as the one for the strata title in a SRI.
The land surveyor has to check and report that the strata lot is on the correct floor and in the correct position as stated on the strata plan prepared by the commissioned land surveyor.
He also has to check and report if the size (area) of the apartment (strata lot) is the same as on the strata plan. He will also check the outer boundary of the property to ensure that it, too, is in agreement with what is on the strata plan.
He also checks to ensure that there are no encroachments in, or on, the common areas of the strata complex. He also checks and reports if there are any encroachments affecting the property.
Unbeknown to many owners, occupiers and persons in general, strata lots - because they are not listed on the certificate of title - have restrictive covenants as well, similar to those on regular certificate of titles for land.
The reason persons are oblivious to the existence of restrictive covenants is that, instead of being on each certificate of title, as with the ones for regular property, they are found at the back of the strata plan in a section called the Annexure "B".
We will continue with strata lots in subsequent publication. Then, I will address areas such as the difference between the strata complex and gated communities, and what you are allowed to do in both.
Keep sending our questions and comments and let's continue to explore A Matter of Land. Until next time, traverse well.
- Craig Francis is a commissioned land surveyor and managing director of Precision Surveying Services Ltd. He can be contacted for questions or queries at firstname.lastname@example.org or Precision Surveying Services