A Matter of Land | Strata lots vs gated communities
Last week, we spoke about strata lots and how they are unlike regular properties as it is really ownership of a space, an area, and one that may be vertically above ground while the land is a shared property known as the common area.
Today, I will continue with the strata lot information, but we will also look at the gated communities and the differences between these and a strata complex.
In the previous publication, I underscored that strata lots may have restrictive covenants. These covenants, when there, have to be adhered to. The common area of a strata complex is owned by all the owners of the development and its use is to be enjoyed by all. Likewise, the cost of the maintenance of this common area 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 municipal authority.
What cannot happen, however, is any construction, or erection, of any building or structure that is for the use and benefit of one owner, or a particular group of owners. If this is done, it is an encroachment of the common property and can be ordered demolished or demolished by the strata corporation.
In most strata complexes you are not allowed to do structural modifications (additions or extensions) to the strata lot (Manley Meadows excluded). If you do this, you would have encroached on the common property and changed the floor area of the strata lot, and it would no longer conform to that of the plan.
Gated communities, despite being almost identical in nature in their operation as that of a strata complex, are very different. This is mainly because of the laws that govern the two.
In many gated communities there are security guards and common property such as pools, tennis courts, and gyms. However, where in a strata complex the owners are legally bounded to pay their maintenance fees, in a gated community, there is no such legal fetter, and payment is almost voluntary.
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 modifications/extensions to your building.
While 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. You should consult a land surveyor to identify your boundaries before starting construction.
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, with some of things that you can and cannot do in both developments.
Keep sending your 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.