Subdivisions – Know what you are buying!

When purchasing a property that forms part of a lot in either a proposed plan of subdivision (off-the-plan) or registered plan of subdivision, it is important to ask yourself ‘what am I actually buying?

The boundaries of a property are disclosed in the Plan of Subdivision and can generally be described as follows:

  • External face
  • Interior face
  • Median.

This is important when determining what part of the building you will own and what parts are common property or shared in some other respect. It is also important to understand your repair and maintenance obligations.

The boundary walls of a property can generally be described as one of the above, or a combination of the above.

It is common for Plans of Subdivision to describe the boundaries of a lot as ‘all the land in the Plan except the common property’ and for the boundaries of the apartments to be defined by interior face. So what are you buying in that case? In short, you are buying the airspace inside the apartment because the walls, floor etc. are all common property and repairs and maintenance are the responsibility of the Owners Corporation. The Owners Corporation levies fees from the lot owners to cover the cost of repairs and maintenance which may be levied against one, several or all members of the Owners Corporation depending upon the works taking place. Consent from the Owners Corporation is usually required if you want to carry out any works to the apartment.

If the boundary of a lot is shown as ‘median’ then the boundary lies within the middle of the structure. If the structure is shared, for example in the case of a party wall, this generally means that one lot owner owns half of the party wall and the adjoining lot owner owns the other half. The cost of repairs and maintenance should be shared equally between those two lot owners in that case.

Boundaries described as external face generally mean that the lot owner owns the structure of the building and is responsible for all costs of repairs and maintenance.

It is therefore important to know what you are buying when purchasing a unit or an apartment and what repairs and maintenance costs you will be responsible for. Likewise, it is also important to seek legal advice when purchasing a property off-the-plan so that you are aware what you are purchasing in circumstances where the construction of the building has likely not yet taken place.

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