An Overview of Strata Titles and Homeowners Association Ownership – Real Estate
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If you are planning to purchase a condominium, apartment or villa in a development/complex (as opposed to a standalone house or villa) in the Turks and Caicos Islands (“TCI”), the title deed will either be what is known as a “condominium title” or will be part of a homeowners association. This article aims to give you a brief introduction/overview of condominium titles and homeowners associations and how they work.
A strata scheme should be used when there is more than one condominium or apartment in the same building, but can also be used for a villa development.
At the start of a development, the developer will obtain planning permission to carry out the development and subsequent subdivision of the property into individual lots and common ownership.
Lots are the units (condos, apartments, or villas, etc.) or any other owner-owned areas that are part of the lot, for example, car spaces, garages, docks, storage rooms, etc. and each is listed on the title as belonging to an owner of the land.
Common property is defined as all areas of the development that are not contained within any current stratum lot, such as common stairwells, driveways, visitor parking, roofs, paths, gardens, gates main areas, waste areas, exterior walls and windows, balconies, elevators, etc., as well as leisure facilities such as gym, sauna, spa, swimming pool, tennis court, meeting room, golf course , etc.
A licensed surveyor draws up a strata plan of subdivision indicating which parts of the project will be individually owned lots, with the remaining parts being common property. All lots are assigned a unit right and the original schedule of unit rights is shown on the strata plan and on the common title deed. The unit entitlement will determine the proportion of common expenses for which the unit is responsible, as well as its proportion of Strata Corporation’s aggregate voting rights. The larger a unit, the greater its responsibility for assessments and its voting rights.
This plan is then submitted to the local planning authority for approval. Once approved by the local authority, the Strata plan is registered with the Land Registry. After successful registration, title registers are created for each lot and one for common ownership.
Once a condominium plan is registered, a condominium plan comes into existence and a statutory condominium corporation is automatically formed by operation of law. This legal entity will then bear the name “The Proprietors Strata Plan No. [ ]», this number being assigned by the Cadastre.
The common property belongs to the Strata Corporation, which includes all lot owners as a collective and there will be an Executive Committee, which is the representative body of the Strata Corporation.
All owners must contribute to the maintenance of these common areas and equipment through a system of contributions which are levied on the owners, as determined via a budget of planned expenditure. Regular assessments refer to the budgeted contribution of condominium fees, which is usually paid monthly. Special contributions may be levied for extraordinary expenses.
The Strata Corporation will have a set of bylaws. There is a model set of regulations set out in the Strata Title Ordinance, but typically a developer will submit and register their own set of development-friendly regulations that add to or modify the default set of regulations.
The main obligations of all lot owners generally include:
- to pay condominium rates and fees.
- to notify Strata Corporation of any change in ownership or occupancy.
- comply with the rules of the plan.
- behave in a manner that will not offend other residents or interfere with their peaceful enjoyment of the project.
- not make changes to their lot without the consent of Strata Corporation and local authorities (if required); and
- obligations of lot owners in relation to the rental of their lot to third parties.
Often the day-to-day management of larger projects will be outsourced to a professional management company.
Examples of developments that use the strata title system are South Bank, Coral Gardens and the Ritz Carlton Residences.
This configuration is generally seen where there is a residential development or community comprising villas or private homes.
Each residence will have its own title number, and upon purchasing the property, the buyer will be granted a share in the Homeowners Association (“HOA”).
The developer will retain portions of a development for amenities and common areas, e.g. roads, reception, restaurant, gym, and then grant easements to the HOA to use access and use of these roads and facilities. Usually there will be provisions for the developer to transfer these amenities and common areas to the HOA, either after the sale of the final home in the development or after a certain period of time.
Like strata assessments, the HOA will have an assessments budget and charge for maintenance of amenities and common areas.
Instead of having bylaws, there is usually some form of restrictive agreement which is registered on title and applies to all owners of the development. This will deal with various covenants relating to the property and will govern the payment of assessments levied on the property.
Examples of developments that have been set up with an HOA include Beach Enclave and the Leeward Residential Community.
Strata properties and HOA properties have amenities and common areas for the owners’ use and fees/assessments charged for the maintenance and upkeep of these areas. It is a personal preference as to whether a buyer wishes to purchase a property in a residential/private villa complex or community, depending on the type of facilities and level of privacy they desire.
Real Estate at Griffiths and Partners
Our full-service real estate team acts for buyers, sellers, developers and financiers, and is highly experienced in advising on the purchase, sale and development of property in the Turks and Caicos Islands.
We regularly advise on some of the largest and most complex real estate transactions on the islands, and our lawyers bring a high level of technical expertise and local experience to every transaction.
We also handle a wide range of local residential transactions from buying and selling some of the islands most valuable and prestigious properties to acting for first time buyers.
There are no restrictions on foreign ownership of property in the islands and we regularly provide advice to foreign clients at all stages of acquiring property and on how best to structure local ownership of property.
As trusted advisors to our developer clients, we provide close guidance and support throughout the development process, from acquisition and site planning, through the construction phase, through to commissioning. completion, then the management and sale or rental of the property.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide on the subject. Specialist advice should be sought regarding your particular situation.