Doing your homework on owners' corporations
Across Australia's capital cities, approvals for flats, units, apartments and townhouses - non-house type dwellings - continue to close the gap on the number of approvals for detached houses.
According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, in the 1990s, there was one apartment approved for every three houses, however as of April 2011, only 1.6 new houses were approved for every new apartment - the lowest ratio in Australia's history. For the growing number of Australian property buyers opting towards non-house dwellings such as apartments and units, owners' corporations and the rules and regulations that come with them are a fact of life.
These are the bodies that collectively manage a multi-occupancy subdivision of a building or land - including properties classed as residential, retail, commercial, industrial or mixed use.
Owner's corporations manage the development, and charge fees to cover expenses incurred in maintaining the overall development and could include things like maintaining elevators, parking facilities, swimming pools, or any number of other expenses.
Before purchasing such a property, it would be wise to do some research on the owners' corporation. This can be done via a number of ways, including asking to see the owners' corporation certificate attached to the Vendor's Statement or Section 32.
This will explain current fees, insurance cover, maintenance works, proposed works, fee increases as well as any potential legal claims affecting the property.
Potential purchasers can also review the contract of sale or examine the minutes of the owners' corporation annual general meetings in order to get an overview of the owners' corporation for a particular development.