Up to “90 per cent of apartment buyers” not ordering strata reports

With a growing number of new-build apartments plagued by defects such as unstable walls and leaky ceilings and many older apartments literally on shaky ground, it’s more important than ever that potential apartment buyers inspect strata records before signing a purchase contract.

Market ResearchIn my experience, about 90 per cent of potential buyers do not bother to obtain a report from the owners’ corporation.

This is actually the first thing I recommend buyers do.

However, they’re still not considered a necessity by many which is scary.

Either buyers don’t want to spend the extra money, have fallen in love with an apartment, and don’t want to hear anything bad about it, or simply don’t know the possibility of a strata report even exists.

Whilst the report is similar to a building report, it has an important difference

The strata inspection report will report on the books and records of the owners’ corporation – the legal entity managing the building – and tell you precisely what’s happening within the building right now.

This can reveal crucially important information which can influence a buyer’s decision, such as whether there are building defects, expensive court litigation or a huge bill about to come up for payment.

I also caution against a selling agent suggesting a strata report prepared by the vendor.

This will merely be skewed to what the seller wants you to hear.

The actual strata inspection report costs just $34.

That’s the fee you pay to either view the records online or attend the strata manager’s office to inspect the hard copy records.

If you need help interpreting the records, there are also specialist strata search companies or strata lawyers who can assist.

A tragic case study

Recently Melbourne schoolteacher Lauren Bird found out the hard way just how important a strata inspection report can be after she bought an apartment in Melbourne’s north-west.

Having ordered a building inspection report, Ms. Bird thought she’d done her due diligence.

However, two and half years later she’s now facing financial ruin as her block’s owners are now taking its builders to court over allegations of severe defects in its construction.

New Build Apartments InvestorsMs. Bird said she didn’t realise at the time that she should have also ordered a strata report that would have revealed, through the minutes of meetings of the Owners Corporation, the ongoing battle with the builders.

It is vitally important to take note in a strata report of are any leak issues, flooring concerns, unapproved renovations, special levies, long-standing litigation or lack of sinking funds.

I’ve had clients raise concerns regarding a strata report and I’ve recommended they not go through with a purchase due to serious issues.

There’s no point in ignoring strata problems.

Whilst some may be minor, they can still give you bargaining power when it comes to the purchase price, so they’re worth knowing about.

Other issues may be very significant and could come back to bite you down the track.

It’s best you know now, so you can make an informed decision on whether or not to proceed with your purchase.

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Amanda Farmer

About

Amanda is a strata lawyer with over 17 years’ experience advising owners, communities, managers and developers. Amanda is the owner of Lawyers Chambers, a boutique legal practice in Sydney, focussed entirely on strata and community title law. Since 2016, Amanda has hosted the Your Strata Property podcast, dedicated to demystifying the legal complexities of apartment living.


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