What is Common Property? - SSKB - Strata Managers | Community Experts

What is Common Property?

Common property – it sounds pretty straight forward doesn’t it?

But it’s not quite as simple as it seems, and that can become a bone of contention when it comes to repair and maintenance and determining who pays for what.

Each state defines Common Property a little bit differently, so we’ll give you an overview and a link to your state’s legislation for a more detailed explanation.

New South Wales

In a strata scheme (an Owners Corporation), everyone shares ownership of the ‘common property, such as external walls, foyers and driveways.

The lot owner owns the inside of the unit but not the main structure of the building. Usually the four main walls, the ceiling, roof and the floor are common property. The basic rule is that everything inside a lot is the owner’s property which includes all internal walls, fixtures, carpet and paint on the walls.

Areas of common property boundaries of each lot are generally formed by:

  • The upper surface of the floor (but not including carpet);
  • The under surface of the ceiling;
  • All external or boundary walls (including doors and windows).

Common property can include such things as:

  • Pipes in the common property or servicing more than one lot;
  • Electrical wiring in the common property or servicing more than one lot;
  • Originally installed parquet floors, ceramic tiles, floor boards, vermiculite ceilings, plaster ceilings and cornices;
  • Magnesite finish on the floor;
  • Most balcony doors are usually common property if the strata plan was registered after 1974;
  • The slab dividing two storeys of the same lot or one storey from an open space roof area or garden areas of a lot (e.g. a townhouse or villa), is usually common property if the strata plan was registered after 1 July 1974, unless the registered strata plan says it is not.


Victoria defines common property as including any parts of the land, buildings and airspace that are not lots on the plan of subdivision. It may include gardens, passages, walls, pathways, driveways, stairs, lifts, foyers and fences.

The common property is collectively owned by the lot owners as ‘tenants-in-common‘.

Under the Owners Corporation Act 2006, your Owners Corporation must repair and maintain:

  • The common property, for example a garden or nature strip;
  • Chattels, fixtures, fittings and services related to the common property;
  • Equipment and services that benefit some or all of the lots and common property;
  • Property that is its responsibility.


Queensland has a number of different types community title schemes which are slightly different.

The only way to be certain as to whether something is Common Property or not, is to find the Community Management Statement for your Community Titles Scheme.

Community Titles Schemes are registered under a plan of subdivision. This is recorded as a survey plan. The survey plan shows the boundaries of the common property and the lots in that scheme.

You can do that through the Titles Registry Office.

There are several types of survey plans. Boundaries are defined differently depending on the type of plan registered. The two common types of survey plans are:

  • Building Format Plans;
  • Standard Format Plans.

In a Building Format Plan scheme, the Body Corporate is usually responsible for maintaining:

  • The outside of the building;
  • The foundations and roof of the building;
  • Roofing membranes that are not on common property but give protection for lots or common property;
  • Essential structural elements of the building (like foundation structures, roofing structures that provide protection and load-bearing walls) even if they are not on common property;
  • Roads, gardens and lawns on common property;
  • Facilities on common property (like swimming pools and barbeques);
  • Railings or balustrades on, or near to, the boundary between a lot and common property, including the balustrade on a private balcony;
  • Any doors or windows, and their fittings in a boundary wall between a lot and the common property (including garage doors and their fittings);
  • Utility infrastructure (like equipment, pipes and wiring) that is on common property, or in a boundary structure, or services more than 1 lot.

In a Standard Format Plan scheme, the Body Corporate is usually responsible for maintaining:

  • Roads, gardens and lawns on common property;
  • Facilities on common property (like swimming pools and barbeques);
  • Utility infrastructure (like equipment, pipes and wiring) that is on common property, or in a boundary structure, or services more than one lot.

Do you have a question about Body Corporate communities, Owners Corporations and Strata living? SSKB is Australia’s leading strata management company, specialising in delivering expert advice and management to Owners Corporations and Body Corporate communities.

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Recent Comments


Les Phillips On October 10, 2019 | Reply

Hi I live in QLD and was wondering if my tilt a door rails and arms were covered on my garage by body corporate.

    Emma Smith On October 11, 2019 | Reply

    Hi Les,
    Thank you for your comment, can you please provide some more details on this issue, specifically, were you referring to a maintenance aspect or from an insurance aspect.

    Thank you.

Vivienne On October 17, 2019 | Reply

Hi, although I live in South Africa I cannot find anyone to answer my question, however, considering that you are community experts I am hoping that your answer will apply to the community, sectional title scheme principles in SA.

Is the chimney on my neighbours’ roof on common property? If so, then the principle is that I, as a member of the body corporate, have a say in whether the chimney should have been allowed to be erected without my prior notification? Especially as the smoke from that chimney is polluting the common property: the drive way, the garden around my home; and my exclusive use area: inside my home?

I look forward to hearing from you –
Kind regards

    Emma Smith On October 17, 2019 | Reply

    Hi Vivienne,

    Unfortunately we are only experts in QLD, NSW and VIC legislation within Australia. Without knowing anything about how Bodies Corporate operate in South Africa or the sectional title scheme principles, we are unable to provide advice on this matter.

Roy On December 3, 2019 | Reply

The difference between states is quite pronounced which can make using google for research poor. I live in Qld and I thought a solid timber floor nailed to the slab could be common property which seems right in NSW but from your comments above in Qld it would only be halfway though the concrete slab that it stops?

Karren Johnson On January 8, 2020 | Reply

Good afternoon
I have a little dog who has been approved by the body Corp to live in our villa. He is not to be on community property.
We live near the beach. I walk him every day on a lead and pick up after him. I go straight from our villa down the driveway and across the road to the beach. Residents are saying I can only walk him to my garage or parking bay. This would mean in order to walk him I would have to drive to the end of the common road then get him out of the car. This would take less than one minute.
Is this true or do I have to right to walk him to and from our villa on a lead.
Thank you.

    Emma Smith On February 24, 2020 | Reply

    We understand part of this scenario which does appear to not be workable, however what was the specific wording of your approval to keep the dog?

    Thank you.

Susan On February 19, 2020 | Reply

Thank you for allowing people to ask questions from your experts. We live on Gold Coast and have moved into community titles scheme
I am looking to ascertain who is responsible for roof leaks in the recent storms. We have internal damage to cornice and wall

We live in two storey town house and the roof and gutters of 5 town houses are connected as well as common wall with one neighbour as we are an end town house

How do I find out who is responsible for cost of repair and what is the document I need to ask for from body corporate managers as proof of this please

I appreciate you help p

    Emma Smith On February 24, 2020 | Reply

    Hello Susan,

    The issue of who is responsible is determined by the type of plan that your townhouse was registered under. I am assuming that your townhouse was completed and registered after 1997.

    There are generally only 2 types of plans of sub division:-

    – A Standard Format Plan – SFP; OR
    – A Building Format Plan – BFP.

    Generally, but not always, a townhouse development is registered under a SFP. Under a SFP Development the Administration & Sinking Fund levies are generally cheaper because all maintenance of each townhouse is the responsibility of the individual Lot Owner. Under a BFP, the levies are higher as the outer boundary of the townhouse (ie roof, guttering and walls etc) is the responsibility of the Body Corporate to maintain.

    However, regarding insurance, there would normally be an Insurance policy to cover all the townhouses. I identify that you noted there was some shared buttering etc.

    Your next step should be to contact your Body Corporate Manager to ascertain if the scheme is registered under a BFP or a SFP to determine who is repair the cause of the roof leak. Then the rectification of the internal walls and ceiling etc may be worth to consider an insurance claim via the Body Corporate (depending on the policy excess), or via your own contents policy.

    If you have a Caretaker / Resident Manager, I suggest they too should be able to proc=vide some assistance regarding tradespersons.

    We hope this has been of assistance to you.


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