Tue | Mar 20, 2018

Common property is just that - common property

Published:Sunday | August 24, 2014 | 12:00 AM

Craig Francis, Contributor

Good day, readers. In September, I will be having several guest writers as two of my colleagues as well as others from associated professions will help to fill these column inches.

This week, I want to look at a very contentious matter and one that can cause many problems for the owners of units in strata complexes.

There are many strata complexes where the units look just like town houses. However, from the title they are strata lots and are governed by the Strata Titles Act.

This means that you, the owner of this town house-looking strata property, are not allowed to erect dividing fences to separate you from your neighbours. You are not allowed to do any modification/addition to the physical structure. You can do all you want inside by means of interior design/decoration but to modify/alter/add to the structure on the outside is not allowed.

Any addition or construction of a dividing fence actually causes an encroachment of the common property. To encroach on the common property will not just have ramifications for the lot that the encroachment affects but it causes the entire property to be affected. So when a surveyor's report is done for any other lot, the encroachment on the common area will be noted and this will have negative implications for that lot, even though that lot owner did not cause the encroachment.


This encroachment will be a millstone around the neck of the entire strata complex until steps are taken to correct the problem.

I had occasion very recently to visit a strata complex in Kingston that had all the town houses erecting dividing fences and constructing wash areas to the rear of their units. Needless to say, this means they were all encroaching on the common property and this had to be noted.

Encroachment on the common area in a strata complex makes selling or buying a property in that complex difficult, if not impossible, if you require a mortgage to do so.

This as most, if not all, lending agencies will not lend where there are breaches to any of the restrictive covenants or where there is encroachment, until either is corrected.

I encourage owners of strata lots to not encroach on the common area; it is there for the use of everyone in the complex and to put any structure for personal use is not allowed. If you are in such a situation already or not certain if someone in your complex has encroached on the common area, then consult your land surveyor - he can and will assist you.

Keep sending your questions and comments and let's continue to explore A Matter 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 his Facebook page Precision Surveying Services