Flat Chat Strata Forum Common Property Current Page

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  • #64461
    WoodWalker
    Flatchatter

    I’m in a 10 unit complex in Canberra on a corner block with 2 rows of units (east and west) with a common property on one one street boundary and the central driveway.

    People in the east wing have a very lovely hedge on the boundary of their private property and the nature strip. Thus far the OC has paid for trimming and repairing the hedge (perhaps $800 pa). People in the west wing have a fence that they maintain.

    Several of us think it is unfair for the west wingers to have to contribute to the maintenance of the east wing hedge on the nature strip (not common property). If the east wingers agree:

    is there a (simple) mechanism for them to contribute perhaps $100 per year each to cover the hedge trimming?
    or to reduce the levy for the west wing people by $100 each?
    how do other stratas make adjustments for expenses that benefit one group more than another?

    Thanks for any suggestions,
    Woodwalker
    PS. I’m in the east wing and the hedge shelters a fantastic little “secret garden”

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  • #64473
    Sir Humphrey
    Strataguru

    The ACT’s Unit Titles (Management) Act used to have a section that said an Owners Corporation (OC) could exempt itself by special resolution from a maintenance obligation subject to conditions that it would not have a significant adverse effect on the appearance of the common property or safety. That seems to have disappeared but perhaps it is still there and you can find it. Now it seems that a maintenance obligation can only be transferred to individual unit owners in the context of a special privilege rule or a condition associated with a ‘minor use’ and those only pertain to common property.

    As the hedge is on the boundary of the ‘nature strip’ and individual units, it is arguably a shared maintenance responsibility between the individual units and the OC.

    On the other hand, perhaps the private unit areas go up to the external boundary of the OC and the hedge is inside the private unit areas and just extends to the boundary and not onto the nature strip. If so, the OC could note that the hedge is in the private unit areas and require the 5 unit owners to maintain it, including trimming to prevent it from extending out into the nature strip.

    What is the status of the ‘west wing’ fence? Is that also a boundary between individual unit areas and the nature strip? If so, aren’t the hedge and the fence the same? The west wingers have a fence boundary and the east wingers have a hedge boundary. Perhaps the hedge requires regular trimming, which is a regular cost but the fence needs only irregular maintenance but might eventually need replacement. Perhaps both should be a shared individual unit owner and OC cost and things might even up eventually.

    If all or nearly all are agreed, I’d suggest that an OC rule be adopted by special resolution at a general meeting and properly registered. I suggest that the rule is written symetrically in that it gives the 5 west units OC permission to erect a fence on their boundary subject to a maintenance requirement on those 5 units while the 5 east units are given permission to install a hedge on their boundary subject to a maintenance requirement on those 5 units. I would include a requirement that the fence for the 5 west units be maintained in a consistent style for all 5 west units and that the hedge for the 5 east units be maintained in a consistent style for all 5 east units. I’d include a stipulation that the OC (in effect the EC) can determine what maintenance is required for the fence and hedge and the OC bill the relevant 5 units for any costs associated with that maintenance.

    #64477
    WoodWalker
    Flatchatter
    Chat-starter

    (YouTube in it’s infinite wisdom has started putting “Yes Minister” clips into my YouTube feed and I am enjoying them.)

    The west fence is internal to the block so is the responsibility of the adjoining neighbours. And the east hedge is on the nature strip and the ACT gov guideline says that immediate owner is responsible for the trimming of the hedge.  I guess the question is:

    Is the immediate owner the OC or the unit owner?

    The consistent look suggests that the owner is the OC so it is done consistently. But it does seem unfair that the Westsiders have to contribute …oh well.

     

     

    #64492
    Sir Humphrey
    Strataguru

    There might be a creative way around this if it is that much of a concern.

    S. 29 Work on behalf of particular unit owners or occupiers

    An owners corporation for a units plan may, if authorised by an ordinary resolution, enter into and carry out an agreement with an owner or occupier of a unit for—

    1. (a)  the maintenance of the unit; or
    2. (b)  the provision of facilities or services for the unit (or its owner or occupier).

    Perhaps, the OC could be authorised to contribute to the cost of maintaining the fence for the 5 responsible west wing units to the extent that it matches the expenditure on maintenance of the hedge, for which the OC is responsible.

    As for the question of ‘How do other stratas make adjustments for expenses that benefit one group more than another?”, they often don’t and often it would be impossible. What if you had a common property BBQ, a tennis court and a children’s playground? Some might use none of these. Some might use one or two. Some might use all the facilities. The bottom line is that such common property features, or even just a nice looking hedge, ultimately benefit all, even if they don’t use them or even care about them because, if nothing else, their property value is enhanced.

    #64493
    Sir Humphrey
    Strataguru

    A further thought. From s.78 it is possible to depart from levies in proportion to unit entitlements and have some other mechanism so long as the method is ‘fair’ taking various things into account that are set out in that section. So, you could have a levy determination method that is: Everybody contributes in proportion to unit entitlements (as usual) except that the five east wing units only contribute the cost of hedge maintenance.

    The alternative method for levy determination needs a special resolution to be adopted. It could be couched in terms of a rule and registered. So, if fewer than a quarter would be opposed, and ideally with a consensus, you could just resolve at a general meeting that it would be fair to do things that way.

    #64494
    WoodWalker
    Flatchatter
    Chat-starter

    Thanks Sir Humphrey … all your words are useful.

    Hacker : They have the right to know!

    Sir Humphrey Appleby : No, they have the right to be ignorant. Knowledge implies complicity, ignorance has a certain Dignity.

    #64612
    twosailram
    Flatchatter

    Does the neat hedge improve the value or desirability of any unit within the complex? I’d be surprised if its neatness isn’t a positive benefit to all. Just a thought. Also, are these amounts sufficient to warrant a possibly divisive matter being given life?

    #64621
    Sir Humphrey
    Strataguru

    Does the neat hedge improve the value or desirability of any unit within the complex? I’d be surprised if its neatness isn’t a positive benefit to all. Just a thought. Also, are these amounts sufficient to warrant a possibly divisive matter being given life?

    Despite having given an answer about how differential funding might be done, I agree that it is probably not worth the bother. Most likely, trimming the hedge is a minor cost in the overall costs of running the scheme. Most likely all benefit from the good appearance of the whole scheme both from trimming the hedge and other maintenance of the common property.

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