A Matter of Land | Strata lots and surveyors’ identification reports
Most Jamaicans have a great desire to own his/her own piece of the 'Rock'. That being said, there are many persons whose dream properties is a piece of 'space', and that brings us to this week's column, strata lots and their surveyors' identification report.
What is a strata lot?
This is a lot defined in a plan lodged under the Strata Titles Act. It includes lots, wholly or partially, inside building, external lots (that may be 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, or on top, or on the bottom, may have its own Certificate of Title.
In order for this to be done, a plan, known as a 'strata plan', showing the various lots must be prepared by a commissioned land surveyor and then submitted to the Registrar of Titles.
The law also states that upon registration of the strata plan, a strata corporation, comprising the owners of the lots, must be formed. 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 as opposed to being a piece of land. You, instead, own an area and have shares in the 'land' known as the common areas. Each lot owner is required to pay a monthly amount, known as a maintenance fee, to help with the upkeep of the common areas.
Surveyors' Identification Reports for strata lots
A commissioned land surveyor has to identify the strata lot and ensure that it is the same one as the one on the title. He or she has to check and report that the strata lot is in the correct position. The commissioned land surveyor also has to check and report if the size (area) of the apartment (strata lot) is the same as on the strata plan.
He/she also has to check the outer boundary of the property to ensure that it is in agreement with that on the plan. He/she also checks to ensure that there are no encroachments in, or on, the common areas of the strata complex. He/she also checks and reports if there are any encroachments affecting the property.
Unbeknown to many owners, occupiers, and members of the public in general, strata lots have restrictive covenants as well, even though these are not listed on the Certificate of Title.
Instead of being on each Certificate of Title, as is done with the title for regular property, the restrictive covenants for start lots are found at the back of the strata plan in a section called the Annexure 'B'.
We will continue with strata lots in subsequent publications when we explore areas such as the difference between the strata complex and gated communities, and what you are allowed to do in both.
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.