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Buying a unit or townhouse – what are you responsible to maintain

When buying a townhouse or a unit in an apartment complex, it will either be on a:

  • ‘Building Format Plan’; or
  • ‘Standard Format Plan’.

An explanation of the differences and what this means in terms of maintenance liability is set out below:

BUILDING FORMAT PLAN

If you a buying a unit in a multi-story unit complex, it will likely be in what is known as a ‘Building Format Plan’. The boundary of your unit will start and stop at the centre of the floor, wall and ceiling.

Generally speaking, the Body Corporate will be responsible to maintain the common property, as well as:

  • the outside of the entire building
  • the foundations and roof of the building
  • railings, balustrades on, or near to, the boundary between a lot and common property
  • any doors or windows and their fittings in a boundary wall between a lot and the common property; and
  • utility infrastructure (like equipment, pipes and wiring) that is on common property, or in a boundary structure, or services more than 1 lot.

The lot owner is generally responsible for:

  • the inside of the lot, including all fixtures and fittings
  • doors and windows leading on to a balcony that forms part of the lot
  • utility infrastructure that is within the boundaries of the lot and only services that lot; and
  • exclusive use areas the owner has the benefit of, unless the exclusive use by-laws stipulate otherwise.

STANDARD FORMAT PLAN

Townhouses are commonly on a ‘Standard Format Plan’ (previously known as a Group Title Plan) as they often contain a building and a yard. The boundary of the lot is defined by using marks on the ground or a structural element of a building.

Under this type of arrangement, the Body Corporate is generally responsible for maintaining:

  • roads, gardens and lawns on common property
  • facilities on common property; and
  • utility infrastructure (like equipment, pipes and wiring) that is on common property, or in a boundary structure, or services more than 1 lot.

The lot owner is generally responsible for:

  • the inside of the building, including all fixtures and fittings
  • the outside of the building within their lot boundary, including exterior walls, doors, windows and roof
  • the building foundations
  • all lawns, gardens and driveways inside the boundary of the lot
  • utility infrastructure that is inside the boundary of the lot and only services that lot; and
  • exclusive use areas the owner has the benefit of, unless the exclusive use by-laws stipulate otherwise.
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