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A matter of land: Strata lots vs. gated communities

Published:Sunday | April 10, 2016 | 4:00 AMCraig Francis
Kingston and St Andrew representative for the New Kingston Division, Kari Douglas, points to one of the many commercial facilities meters from a gated community on Hanning Road in the Corporate Area.

Good day, readers. Last week I started to respond to your queries about strata lots and gated communities. Today I will continue with the strata lot information but will also look at the gated community and the differences between that and a strata complex.

In the previous publication on strata lots, I noted that they might have restrictive covenants. These covenants, when there, have to be adhered to.

All the owners of the development own the common area of a strata complex and its use is to be enjoyed by all. Likewise, the cost of its maintenance is to be shared by all.

Green areas, pools, tennis courts or whatever other common property is for use and enjoyment by all owners.

The strata corporation for a particular complex can have erected or constructed a building or pool or anything agreed on by the owners once it is for the common use of all the owners.

So even though it is not on the strata plan prepared by the commissioned land surveyor, once it is being constructed as common property it is allowed. This is predicated on the fact that it doesn't breach any of the restrictive covenants and approval is sought from the requisite local authority.

What cannot happen, however, is any construction or erection of any building or structure that is for the use or benefit of one owner or a particular group of owners.

If this is done, then it is an encroachment of the common property and can be ordered demolished or demolished by the strata corporation. All common property is for the use of all owners.

In most strata complexes, you are not allowed to do structural modification (addition or extensions) to the strata lot (Manley Meadows excluded). If you do this, you would have encroached on the common property and change the floor area of the strata lot, and it would no longer conform to that of the Strata Plan.

 

Gated communities

 

Gated communities, despite being almost identical in nature in their operation as that of a strata complex, are very different, and this is mainly because of the laws that govern the two.

In many gated communities there are security guards, 'common property' such as pools, tennis courts and gyms, etc. However, whereas in a strata complex the owners are legally bound to pay their maintenance fees, in a gated community there is no such legal fetter and payment is almost voluntary and out of a civic duty.

Legally, the owners of property in a gated community cannot be forced to pay a maintenance fee as they are not covered under the Strata Titles Act. In a strata complex you cannot modify the unit externally to make it bigger. However, in a gated community, except for some restrictive covenant that stipulates where the addition to the unit can be done, you are allowed to do modification or extension to your property.

Whereas in the strata complex you don't own any land for yourself but share in common property, in the gated community you normally own the property around your building to the extent of your boundary pegs, and can oftentimes erect a wall but I would advise that you consult a land surveyor first to identify your boundaries.

Gated communities are governed by the many restrictive covenants that normally obtain on the certificates of titles issued to owners while the strata complex is governed by the Strata Titles Act.

We will continue this comparison at another time, and some of the dos and don'ts in both developments.

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 craig_r_francis@yahoo.com or Precision Surveying Services