Each strata plan registered in NSW is unique. In addition to the fact that every strata building or complex will be a unique building or set of buildings, legislation for the interpretation of strata plans have changed over time, and guidelines for surveyors who draw strata plans has also changed. This means each strata plan should be treated differently, and very carefully, as the interpretation of strata plans can have significant legal ramifications.
A starting point for reading a strata plan is the registration date. If the date precedes 1 July 1974, then parts of the building are likely to be affected by the “centre-line rule”. In short, it means where a line on a strata plan corresponds with a wall that is between two parts of the same lot, that wall, and windows and doors within it will be lot property. This is different to the modern and contemporary assumption that lines on a strata plan correspond with common property.
Another item to take care to inspect is a key or description. These are usually notations located somewhere on the pages of the strata plan. These keys can designate areas of common property, visitor parking, gardens and all manner of structures and designs that make up a building or land parcel.
Also carefully read notes. Notes on a strata plan can describe any number of facets of a building, lot and/or common property. Importantly, they are often used to describe upper or lower boundaries of a lot.
There are also some symbols to look out for. Strata plans will include a compass rose, often just depicting north. This can assist with describing or understanding the location of structure. Vinculums – which look like a sideways “S” and are placed over the top of a line – link two parts of the strata plan together (think a square that depicts a lot next to a rectangle that depicts a courtyard, if there is a vinculum over the line that adjoins the two, then the courtyard is lot property).
There are many other items listed, described or drawn on a strata plan that you should take into account when attempting to interpret them. In addition, it is important to consult the Strata Schemes Development Act 2015, the Strata Schemes Management Act 2015, the latest by-laws for the scheme and a recent title of the scheme in case it has been subdivided.
The information in this article is general and not legal advice. If you require legal advice, please contact our office.
Author: Gemma Lumley