By Rachael Hammond

12 June 2018

The answer to this question largely depends on the legal interpretation of the Plan of Subdivision (the Plan) which is the document that determines the legal boundaries of each lot and the common property. This is also unique to each property in Victoria.

Our population is growing and the construction of higher-density housing is booming. Considering renovating? If you opt for apartment living, do you know whether you can legally renovate your property?

When considering renovating, you must ensure that you legally own the part of the building structure you propose to amend and/or alter. You may have a small interior and a large court yard, so it may seem simple enough to just move the wall. But do you actually own the wall? Or do you only own up to the mid-point of the wall? Understanding your legal boundaries is a necessary prerequisite to undertaking renovation works.

If there are elements of the alterations that are not wholly within the legal boundaries of your private property, it is likely that it is common property, and therefore owned by the Owners Corporation. In order to alter common property, you need the Owners Corporation’s consent.

You also need to consider whether a building permit will be required for your proposed alterations. Section 17 of the Building Act 1993 (Vic) (Building Act) relevantly states:-

BUILDING ACT 1993- SECTION 17

Applications for building permits

An application for a building permit may be made to a municipal building surveyor or a private building surveyor application under Part 6-

a. by or on behalf of the owner of the building or the owner of the land, in or which the building work is to be carried out; or

b. if the land on which the building work is to be carried out is a lot of a kind referred to in section 9A11(A) of the Sale of Land Act (1162), by the purchaser under a contract for the sale of that lot.”

The person who owns the part of the building, or the owner of the land must make the application for a building permit. You need to be aware that if you apply for a building permit without the consent of the Owners Corporation, which the renovation in any way affects the common property, you will likely be in breach of section 17 of the Building Act which can result in heavy penalties.

Tisher Liner FC Law provides specialised advice in interpreting legal boundaries. Ensure you obtain professional advice prior to undertaking renovations in strata properties.

Any further questions, please contact Nicole Wilde or a member of our Owners Corporation team.

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