Owners corporations definitions


Dictionary of terms

C

  1. Common property

    Common property includes any parts of the land, buildings and airspace that are not lots on the plan of subdivision. It may include gardens, passages, walls, pathways, driveways, stairs, lifts, foyers and fences. 

    The common property is collectively owned by the lot owners as tenants-in-common. Floor coverings and fixtures within a lot are usually the property of the lot owner.

  2. Common seal

    A common seal is a stamp (usually rubber), which can be arranged through a stationery shop. It represents the signature of the owners corporation and contains the owners corporation and plan of subdivision numbers allocated by Land Victoria as well as, if any, the name of the owners corporation.

    All owners corporations must have a common seal. It is an important instrument of the owners corporation and its misuse can have serious financial and legal consequences.

    The seal must be used on all documents that are created as the result of a resolution passed by the owners corporation; for example, contracts for services, making additional rules or the appointment of a manager.

    Those resolutions must be recorded in the minutes of a general meeting. Each use of the common seal must also be witnessed by two lot owners, who sign the document, print their full name and address and state that they are members of the owners corporation.

    Some owners corporations keep a common seal register to record the names of the witnesses, the date and the purpose for using the seal. A seal register is useful but not mandatory.

  3. Company title

    Each resident in a block of flats owns a parcel of shares in a company established under the Commonwealth Corporations Act 2001. This company owns the land and the building. Each shareholder is entitled to exclusive occupation of a flat, but is subject to the company’s constitution (formerly called the memorandum and articles of association) and any by-laws. These documents should be carefully examined for any restrictions.

L

  1. Lot

    A lot is a part of land, buildings and airspace on a plan of subdivision that can be separately owned and sold. Technically, lots are those parts of land, building or airspace that are not common property, road or a reserve, and include accessory lots such as car spaces, storage bays, and storerooms.

  2. Lot entitlements and lot liabilities

    The lot entitlements and lot liabilities of lot owners are set out in the plan of subdivision.

    • ‘Lot entitlement’ refers to your share of ownership of the common property and determines your voting rights. A lot for example, may have an entitlement of more than one vote.
    • ‘Lot liability’ represents the share of owners corporation expenses that each lot owner is required to pay.

    These entitlements and liabilities are determined by the developer at the time of subdivision.

    Lot entitlements and lot liabilities can be changed by unanimous resolution.

P

  1. Plan of subdivision

    A plan of subdivision depicts the break-up of a piece of land, showing parcels of land, commonly called ‘lots’, that can be sold separately.

    The plan of subdivision is registered at Land Victoria and an owners corporation (formerly body corporate) is automatically created if the plan creates common property. It defines and governs the ownership of land, buildings and airspace, setting out private lots, common property and each lot owner’s voting entitlements and financial contributions.

    Land Victoria registers and allocates numbers to the plan of subdivision and the owners corporation if one or more is created.

S

  1. Strata title

    Each unit in a block or multi-unit complex is individually owned by the resident. In addition, all the owners in the building or complex have shared ownership of the common property, which is managed by an owners corporation.

  2. Stratum title

    Each unit is owned by the resident, who also owns shares in a service company, established under the Commonwealth Corporations Act 2001. The service company owns and manages the common property in the multi-unit block or complex.