Community Title

Community Title Developments include;

  • Gated Communities,
  • Retirement Villages,
  • Eco Retreats,
  • Golf Course developments,
  • Marinas.

A Community Title it is basically the same as a Strata Title that would be used for a block of apartments.

These developments can look great……..but what are the issues of having a new house on these developments?

Body Corporate

Buy a house or block of land in a community title development and you immediately become a member of the community or neighbourhood association (body corporate), bound by its bylaws, and also the co-owner of the shared property.

Often schemes are subdivided into separate stages. . . .So the stage for your new house may have its own body corporate in a neighbourhood scheme, but this will be under an overall community scheme.

By-laws

Bylaws can include:

  • What you can put in your garden.
  • What pets you can have.
  • The appearance of your property (including acceptable colours).
  • Who can live in the property, which can make properties difficult to sell.
  • Not allowing washing hung out.

Facilities

Facilities can include; streets, pavements, parks, a “village green”, clubhouse, pool, tennis courts, etc.

However these “exclusive” facilities have to paid for and maintained, unlike the public facilities in a conventional development which are paid for by the council.

The extent and quality of construction of some of the facilities, for example road construction can sometimes be below the standards required by councils who insist on minimum standards for roads they know they will be responsible for!

Another typical problem is a lack of space for parking particulaly if residents don’t use their garages.

Costs

In addition to the cost of maintaining the facilities,you will be hit by body corporate management fees.

In some cases two fees; for your neighbourhood, and then for the overall community.

Its worth remembering that there is no saving on rates as these will still need to be paid.

I’m not saying don’t buy a block on a community title, just understand what it means.

For posts on issues to consider when buying land see Blocks

 

Title Delays

Do you think because you have paid a deposit on a block you can settle on the land straight away?

Waiting up to a year could be a possibility!

The Developer’s on site agent will usually be pushing the latest land release but this is the most likely to have the longest wait until settlement.

Some options to minimise delays

  1. Don’t look at blocks that are yet to be fully approved. Although a development will get an overall approval before blocks will go on sale the actual stage with the blocks is likely to need a separate approval. If there are environmental issues such as rare plants, rare animals or aboriginal heritage issues this can hold up the process for months.
  2. Whenever possible only look at blocks where the roads are already in place and the blocks pegged. Construction of roads and services can take 3-4 months, longer if its bad weather.
  3. An Alternative to developers land offices. See if any estate agents have single blocks for sale. These might be blocks where the sale has fallen through, or have been sold and the owners situation has changed meaning they can no longer build on the block.

It may suit you to have a delayed settlement if you are not in a rush to build. . . .but most people, myself included, are usually keen for an early start.

Last time I went the option of the a block where the sale had fallen through and got a much better block than the ones that were available in the latest release.

 

How long have did you have to wait for settlement on your block?

For posts on issues to consider when buying land see Blocks

 

Understanding Title Plans

Title plans are quite a bit different to Survey Plans.

The above is typically what you would see when looking at the title plan for a small subdivision.

This is what it tells you about block No 2, which I have coloured in pink.

  • The total width of the Road Reserve of Smith Court including nature strips and future footpaths is 20m.
  • The *survey grid bearing for Smith Court at the front of the block, is 2 degrees 0 minutes and 15 seconds (200’ 15”) almost due North.
  • The width on the road frontage is 18.00m.
  • The top boundary runs at a bearing of 92 degrees 0 minutes and 15 seconds (9200’ 15”) which is almost due East for a distance of 38.00m (the depth of the block is therefore 38m)
  • The rear boundary runs at a bearing of 182 degrees 0 minutes and 15 seconds (18200’ 15”) which is almost due South for a distance of 18.00m. so the width at the rear of the block is also 18m.
  • The bottom boundary runs at a bearing of 272 degrees 0 minutes and 15 seconds (27200’ 15”) which is almost due West for a distance of 38.00m (the depth of the block is therefore consistent at 38.00m)
  • There is a 2m wide Easement at the rear of the Block Labelled E-I. This means it will be VERY difficult to build on this part of your Block.

Within the title documents you will find a reference to each easement on the subdivision saying what the easement is for.

Generally you will be lucky if there are no easements as over 50% of blocks will have at least one easement

Each corner of the site should be marked with a Boundary Peg which needs to be protected from damage.

*ASurvey Grid Bearing’ is a fixed direction unlike a bearing from Magnetic North which can change over time.

 

For similar posts see Block Dimensions

To find out about Easements see Restrictions

Prescribed Easements

Easements are generally shown on title drawings;

For example the sewer easements E-1 and E-2 shown at the rear of these blocks.

These easements are created when the land is subdivided.

However if you are buying an old block of land you may discover that even though there is no formal easement on the title there may be pipes or cables that need to be protected.

For example if a water,sewerage or electricity utility has used the land for 20 years or more then an easement by prescription may have been created.

I have had several personal experience of discovering prescribed easements that were initiated many years ago when local goverment areas were much smaller than now.

As everybody knew one another many permits to lay services were simply a handshake arrangement.

Worked well at the time but can be difficult to sort out now.

The laws on prescribed easements do vary from state to state so I recomend you consult a local property lawyer.

 

How Adverse Possession Can Affect Buying A Block

Did  you know its still possible to take over ownership of someone else’s private land?

This makes it important to check the Land Title Plan dimensions against the actual site dimensions of your new house block for the following reasons:

  • If the actual dimensions are bigger it doesn’t mean the seller owns the ‘extra’ land unless they can demonstrate adverse possession.
  • If the land is smaller a neighbour may have ‘acquired’  ownership by adverse possession.

Either way you could be in for a considerable amount of legal costs to get the ownership of the land sorted out.

Adverse Possession

Adverse Possession is when someone becomes the owner of land through continued exclusive use of that land.

Limitation Period

Before land can be obtained by adverse possession there has to be continued use use of the land for an extended period. That period is different for the various states as follows:

  • Victoria, 15 years
  • South Australia, 15 years
  • New South Wales, 12 years
  • Western Australia, 12 years
  • Tasmania, 12 years
  • Queensland, 12 years

Crown (Government) Land

With the exception of New South Wales and Tasmania you cannot claim Crown Land. In those two states a longer (30 year) limitation period applies.

The reasons are that it is harder for a government to keep an eye on its lands, and it is assumed that the government hold possessions for the public good, despite any apparent neglect.

How Adverse Possession Claims Work

Adverse possession means not mere occupation but also actual physical possession in an open and peaceful manner, without consent of the original owner.

Any form of permission ( a licence, a lease, or an agreement to use the land), and the claim of adverse possession will fail because it will be clear that the owner gave consent for use with no intention to pass over ownership.

Proof to the Titles Office in your State that the land has been  occupied for the entire period of time is required.  

Evidence will be, that as a minimum, at least one of the following has occurred for the whole of the limitation period :

  • A secure fence has been in place without challenge ;
  • ‘Keep Out, Private Land’ signs have been erected without challenge;
  • Payment of rates and taxes.

The information in this post is of a general nature and you should not try to deal with adverse possession issues without involving a lawyer.

 

For more Information why not look at: anewhouse Guide to Buying a Block

 

 

 

Small Strata Developments

A small strata development is a way of retaining an existing house and providing a rear Block. It is an alternative to a Battle Axe Block. This plan shows a typical Small Strata Development.

With this type of development there are 3 Titles as follows:

  • A block title, of reduced size for the original house
  • A block title for the new block shown in red on the plan
  • An area of common title which is jointly owned by the owners of both blocks

So what  are the issues if you are thinking of buying the back block for you new home?

Driveway

  • If the common driveway is completed it may well get damaged during construction.
  • Getting agreement about driveway repair can be difficult.
  • Getting agreement from your neighbour to use the access for during construction can be difficult.
  • Sharing a driveway means that your parking options are limited and can lead to disputes.
  • Looking after the shared driveway is like some of the
    Community Title
     issues.

Additional Service Costs

You will be need to bring in some, if not all, of the following service for an extra 20-30m.

  • Power.
  • Phone.
  • Water, could be two services if you want recycled water.
  • Gas, if it is available.
  • Storm water drainage, can be a problem if property drains to road.

The sewer is usually at the back of the block but check before you buy.

Additional Building Costs

I have heard additional building costs of more than $15,000 for these blocks because they are Restricted Sites

 

Lots more information in the anewhouse Guide to Buying a Block for only $4

See Blocks for more information on buying land.

 

Buying a Block

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Posts from this Blog and Much More.

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Subdivision – Process

Found a big block and would like to split it into two? ………  or just looking to build another house on your block?……….You are going to need to subdivide the block.

Here is an idea of the process for Victoria (It will be similar in other states but check with your local council to make sure you get the details right)

Stage 1 – Planning Permit

You will need to make a formal application to the Council for a planning permit.

As part of its decision making process Councils time will advertise  your proposal to  adjoining property owners.

It will also require consent to the issuing of a permit from the Servicing Authorities (water, sewer, gas, telephone, drainage) and the highway authority.

Generally it will take 60-90 days for the Planning Permit but it might be longer if there are objections.

The Planning Permit will outlines conditions that must be met. These can include: Servicing Authorities requirements, such as construction of vehicle crossings, drainage works and contribution towards open space where applicable. The Planning Permit may also request the submission of amended plans.

Stage 2 – Certification

Certification is an administrative step to ensure that the Plan of Subdivision is satisfactory.

The Plan of Subdivision for Certification is referred to the Highways and Servicing Authorities to determine.

  • Whether Easements are required for their services.
  • Engineering plans for required works are approved (eg. construction of roads, drainage and services,

Once the Servicing Authorities have consented to the Plan of Subdivision and Engineering plans have been approved the plan can be Certified.

The Certified Plan is valid for five years, if the plan is not registered at the Titles Office within that time, the plan expires.

Stage 3 – Compliance

A Statement of Compliance is  required to allow registration of the subdivision at the Titles Office and obtain release of the new titles by the Titles Office.

Compliance requires all the conditions of the Planning Permit  being met. This will include construction of any drainage and vehicle crossings, and payment to all Servicing Authorities for water/sewerage/drainage/electricity supply.

Council will only issue the Statement of Compliance after it has received a letter from each Servicing Authority and carried out a final inspection of the site.

Costs

See this post:  Subdivision Costs

 

Also see Battle Axe Block

 

What Sort of Plan?

Buying Land…….There are several sorts of Plans/ Surveys of your Block to think about before you can start building a house.

Here is a guide to the various plans based on the same block:

Title Plan

Title Plans are the legal document that describes the land. Initially they are usually the only plan that is available  They are limited to:

  • Showing the dimensions and bearings of the boundaries.
  • Showing the locations of Easement.

The drawing below is a typical title plan

Feature Survey

The Feature Survey is an accurate representation of the block prepared by a surveyor. Typically the information shown is:

  • Boundaries.
  • Site Contours.
  • Locations of trees.
  • Any other above ground features such as driveway crossovers and manholes.

If you buy direct from a project builder they will normally arrange the feature survey. If you want to get quotes from several builders it can be worth getting a feature survey done first.

Geo-Technical Plan

The Geo-Technical Plan is more in the form of a sketch than an accurate representation of the site. The main purpose is to indicate the approximate location of boreholes. Other information that may be included is:

  • Indication of location of trees as these may affect the Geotechnical Recomendations.
  • Any rock outcrops.
  • Direction of fall.
  • Ponds / swampy areas.

 

See Blocks for more information on buying land.