Land Titles Explained
In South Australia, property titles fall under three main categories – Torrens Title, Strata Title and Community Title. If you are planning to buy a home on its own block of land it is likely to be a Torrens Title property. If you buy a unit, flat, townhouse or apartment it may be strata or community title. A solicitor or conveyancer will be able to advise you on how the various types of title affect your ownership rights and responsibilities.
When inspecting a property, ask about the title. The agent or owner should have copies of the title and any other relevant document, which show restrictions or encumbrances on the land.
Under the Torrens Title system a Certificate of Title exists for every separate piece of land. The certificate contains a reference that consists of a volume and folio number, ownership details, easements and/or rights of way affecting the land and any encumbrances including mortgages, leases and other interests in the land.
When buying a property in a unit development, the land may be divided by strata plan and referred to as strata title. The law concerning residential strata titles is contained in the Strata Titles Act 1988.
A strata plan under the Strata Titles Act 1988 divides land into:
- Units (of which there must be at least two), and
- Common property.
Before signing a contract, make sure you understand the operations and finances of the particular corporation as you may be required to contribute funds to maintain common areas. Much of this information is set out in the Form 1 that must be served on a buyer.
Unless the strata plan indicates to the contrary, the boundaries of the unit are defined by reference to the structures (i.e. walls, floors and ceilings) in a building, not by reference to the land. There must be an area of common property, for which everyone is responsible. A strata corporation is established to administer and maintain the common property for the benefit of all unit holders. All unit owners are automatically members of the corporation.
There are two types of community title – a community scheme or a community strata scheme. The law concerning community title schemes is contained in the Community Titles Act 1996.
A community title divides land into:
- Lots (of which there must be at least two) and
- Common property.
Where the community scheme is not a strata scheme the boundaries of the lots do not relate to a structure, but are defined by surveyed land measurements and are unlimited in height and depth unless otherwise specified. The owner of an individual lot is responsible for the maintenance and insurance of any structure on that lot and has no obligation for maintenance of other lot owner’s buildings.
In a community strata scheme the lot boundaries are defined by reference to structures (usually parts of the building), similar to a strata title. The structure itself is common property and it is therefore the responsibility of the corporation to maintain and insure it.
Once in a blue moon…
You will come across a company titled property – Call Irusia.