Alterations to common property - what are the processes?
Improving, additions and alterations common property
Common property is owned collectively by all owners in the strata company, and ownership shares is apportioned by unit entitlement. Therefore, any alteration or upgrading works to common property requires the agreement of all owners. This can be achieved by voting on a motion, as a resolution without dissent at a general meeting of the strata company.
Currently the STA 1985 only requires the strata company to maintain, repair and renew where necessary any areas of common property. In the STAA 2018, new powers will enable strata companies to enhance and upgrade common property. This can be achieved by either complying with expenditure controls (as set out in the AGM budget or specified amount per lot) or by the passing of a special resolution at a general meeting of the strata company.
Landgate have produced a fact sheet outlining the responsibilities of strata companies when maintaining or improving the common property, please see below link.
Excepts from the Act
At a small office complex in West Perth, the soft rental market was contributing to high vacancy rates with many of the suites having been vacant for a long time. The owners decided that if they were to renovate the common bathrooms, kitchen and lobby area, this may help attract new tenants.
The old tiles and installations had been in place since the 1970's and they were showing their age. Although everything was still in working order, it was not 'high end'. New tenants looking in that area had a lot of choice, so it was essential that the common areas looked well maintained and were finished to a high standard.
All owners agreed to proceed with renovations and quotes were sought. The cost was approximately $75,000. A special levy was raised and works commenced. The new and improved common areas helped the owners to compete with smarter buildings in the area and secure new tenancies.
An example of a strata plan is attached. You can see that the small external areas/garden areas are noted as 'for the use of lot ...' However, in the next picture you can see that they are not included in the actual lot boundaries, therefore they are considered common property. From the aerial view, it appears that each owner has modified their exterior area with decks or shades. Under the current Act, these modifications would require asking all owners at a general meeting for their approval without dissent. It appears that they may have only requested for COO approval in the past. It is a good example of developers in the past not thinking through the future implications of preparing a strata plan in this way.