Compliance with the Articles
Unit holders have certain responsibilities as outlined in the articles of the strata corporation. In addition to complying with the articles themselves, unit holders are also required to take reasonable steps to make sure that their visitors or tenants do not breach the articles [s 20 Strata Titles Act 1988 (SA)].
Unit holders must keep up their contributions to the corporation. If the funds are not paid, they are recoverable as a debt [s 27(5)], which means the corporation can sue the unit holder for the money, possibly with interest added at a rate reasonably decided by the strata corporation [s 27(4)(b)]. If you buy a unit and there is a contribution owing, you as the new owner are liable for that contribution [s 27(5)]. Check carefully before buying any unit as there may be debts outstanding on that unit.
Debts of the strata corporation
If the strata corporation does not or cannot pay its debts, the individual unit holders are personally liable. The corporation's debts are enforceable against each or any of the unit holders directly [s 21(1)]. If the corporation has a debt, the unit holders have, amongst themselves, the right of contribution to the debt based on their respective unit entitlements [s 21(2)].
Work benefitting particular units
Certain unit holders may have to pay for work which substantially benefits their own particular unit or group of units and not the strata corporation as a whole. However, this may be difficult to determine. Consider the example of a leaking pipe causing damage to one particular unit. If the pipe was common property, then the cost of repairs would have to be borne by the corporation. On the other hand, if the pipe was not common property, then the individual unit holder would be responsible.
Unit holders must seek permission from the strata corporation before starting any building or structural work, or generally altering the outward appearance of a unit [s 29], for example, installing an air conditioner or external awnings. An exception is if work is required because of an order under the Housing Improvement Act 1940 (SA).
Structural changes that affect the delineation of a unit or what exists on the common property should be recorded by amending the strata plan lodged with the Lands Titles Office. Failure to do so may affect ownership of a unit and insurance policies held by unit holders and the corporation.
Right of entry
The key rights of unit holders are contained in the articles of the corporation and in provisions of the Act related to access to information (see Access to information by unit holders).
In addition, a unit holder, or a person authorised by them, has the right of entry into another unit, after giving such notice to the other unit holder as may be practicable in the circumstances, if [s 42]:
- the proper supply of hot or cold water, gas, electricity, heating oil or air-conditioned air to their unit fails; or
- the sewerage, garbage or drainage system as it affects their unit fails to operate properly; and
- another unit must be entered in order to investigate the cause of the failure, or to carry out necessary repairs.
Reasonable force may be used to enter the other unit, but any damage to the other unit must be immediately made good at the expense of the unit holder exercising the right of entry.
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