Strata Title FAQs
A simple guide to Strata Management & Strata Living
What is Strata Title?
This is whereby a building is subdivided into a number of parcels with individual titles – these individual titles are called strata titles.
What type of properties are Strata Title properties?
In Sarawak, ownership in multilevel or multi-storey buildings such as apartments or condominiums is known as the strata title. The strata title ownership is governed by the Strata Title Ordinance 1995, the main piece of legislation in this area.
Do I own only my unit or the common properties as well?
Generally, you not only own your unit, but you also co-own the common properties such as lifts, staircases, foyers, gardens, car parks etc – the size of your ownership on the common properties depends on the built-up size of your unit.
When is the strata title issued?
Strata title can only be issued upon approval of application for subdivision of the building, approval of strata title survey, payment of necessary fees and formation of a Management Corporation (MC). The time frame given for compulsory application for strata title is upon expiry of six months after the sale of the first parcel in the building or six months from the date of completion of the building approved for subdivision.
As such, the issuance of the strata titles for the owners may take some time, in view of the various processes involved with the relevant authorities.
Who manages the building and common property?
Before strata title is issued and the formation of the Management Corporation (MC), the developer is responsible to manage the building and its common property. After issuance of the strata title, this responsibility falls under the MC.
Who are members of the MC?
All unit owners are in fact, members of the MC and have a say in how the building is managed. The MC will also elect a Council to run the daily affairs of the building for the MC.
What are the duties and responsibilities of the MC?
- To formulate and enforce the rules and regulations so that all residents can enjoy a peaceful and uninterrupted stay
- To manage and maintain the common properties for the benefit of all unit owners
- To pay for all rates imposed by authorities
- To ensure that the building is fully insured in accordance with its needs
- To comply with laws and policies imposed by the local council and relevant regulatory bodies
- To determine the amount Management Fee to be paid by unit owners, and to collect such payments
- To take action against unit owners who contravene the rules and regulations in relation to the apartment/condo
As the Council elected by the MC performs the property management function, it is important for the Council members to be competent and vigilant. Alternatively, MCs can appoint a professional property manager to provide property management services to the development.
What’s the main difference between living on a landed property and apartment/condominium?
There are 4 main differences – for landed properties, you would need to spend more time in maintaining the areas surrounding your property such as your garden etc, while for the latter, the common areas such as gardens, walkways, lifts/stairways are maintained by the MC. You are only responsible for your own unit.
Another important difference is that for apartments/condominiums, there is a dedicated team of security personnel overseeing safety and security of residents – access to all areas are normally via key cards which are given only to its residents. As such, residents can enjoy a greater peace of mind.
Thirdly, apartment and condominium developments generally come with various facilities for their residents, such as parks, swimming pool, gym, car parks etc.
Lastly, all residents would need to abide by a set of rules and regulations to facilitate harmonious community living. These rules and regulations, normally called the House Rules or the Residents’ Manual contain the do’s and don’t’s while residing within the development – the rules and regulations cover aspects such as payment of management fees, renovation hours, car park usage and many more.
What is a Deed of Mutual Covenant?
When you buy a strata title property, you need to execute a document called the Deed of Mutual Covenant (DMC). A DMC contains the rules and regulations in relation to the rights and liabilities of all unit owners and the MC.
What are my rights as a unit owner?
- To make use of the common property and common facilities
- To sell or rent out my unit
- To vote at the Annual General Meeting (AGM) and extraordinary general meeting conducted by the MC
- To be provided with service such as provision of water, sewage, drainage, electricity, garbage collection and other related services
- To inspect the records and accounts of the MC
What is the Management Fee and why do I have to pay it?
The management fee paid is to be used for maintenance of the building and common properties, a portion of which would also be saved for long term capital expenses as the building ages, such as for painting the building, plumbing etc. The amount of fees to be paid depends on the built-up area of your unit and various other factors relating to usage of the development.
It is important to pay this fee to ensure that the building and its common property/common facilities are properly maintained.
What can the developer or the MC do if the Management Fee is not paid?
Before the formation of a MC, under the Deed of Mutual Covenants, in the event that any sums of the management fund is not paid within the period provided, the developer has the right to:
- Charge interest on a daily basis at the rate of 10% per annum for the unpaid sums;
- Suspend or withhold any services to the owner’s unit;
- Exclude the owner, his invitees from entering the strata scheme or the common property;
- To seize and sell the owner’s unit to any third party to recover the outstanding sums from the owner.
Upon formation of the MC, the following are available to the MC under the Strata Title Ordinance 1995 to recover the outstanding sum from the unit owners:
- Recoverable by an action for debt in any court of competent jurisdiction;
- Except where a unanimous resolution is required, the owner will not be entitled to vote at a general meeting unless all contributions to the management fund for his unit has been duly paid.
Do I still have to pay assessment fee even though I have paid the management fee?
Yes, as assessment fee is a fee imposed on the properties located within the area of jurisdiction of a local council, you still need to pay it.
This means that unit owners would need to pay for their individual unit assessment fees whilst the MC would pay for the common area assessment subject to the rates charged by the local authority.
What if I have noisy or rowdy neighbours?
Normally, the House Rules or the Residents’ Handbook would contain rules relating to nuisance. The affected resident can lodge a complaint to the Property Manager and should the maker of the nuisance be found to have breached the rules, then a penalty would be imposed.
Can I renovate/refurbish my unit?
Yes, you can – all renovations/refurbishments are subject to the rules set out by the MC. These rules are normally available at the Property Manager’s office. Prior approval needs to be obtained for major renovations which may affect the entire building.
Is there a demand for apartment/condominium-type of properties?
There has been an increasing demand for such properties because of the unique lifestyle they offer. The many privileges, as well as the comfort and peace of mind of such lifestyle, have attracted more and more buyers over the years.
Can I sell or rent my unit pending issuance of the strata title?
Yes, pending the issuance of the strata title, the owner of a unit can still sell or assign their unit and the non-availability of the strata title does not in any way affect the owner’s right to their unit. However, for any sale of the unit, prior consent from the developer must be obtained and the new purchaser must enter into a similar Deed of Mutual Covenants.
Can I take up a loan with a financier pending issuance of the strata title?
Yes, pending issuance of the strata title, the purchaser can take up a loan with a financier by executing a deed of assignment with the financier as security – this deed assigns all rights, title and interests in respect of the property and under the previous sale and purchase agreement to the purchaser’s financier. Once the strata title to the unit has been issued, the owner will charge his unit in the same way as a property with individual title.