In good company: old title gets spit and polish

Remember company title – the Downton Abbey of apartment living? Well, not only is it not going away, it is being polished up like the family silver and made attractive to a new generation of the non-landed gentry. While we’ve all been steadfastly trying to make sense of strata law, that creaky old flat-dwelling concept has been quietly enjoying a bit of a buff-up.

Company title was the direct forerunner of strata, allowing different people to live in the same apartment block, occupying separate units of different sizes and paying a fair share of the upkeep of the whole building.

The problem was that you didn’t actually own your home – you owned shares in the company that owned the building and those shares allowed you to live in a specific apartment.

Not only that, you had to show yourself to be acceptable to the other owners – sorry, shareholders – before you could move in, although once you were in, you got to help choose the next lot of would-be neighbours. Renters were, generally, infra dig.

However, the banks didn’t like this idea of you not owning the bricks and mortar that they were lending you the money to buy. So, 50 years ago, NSW convinced the world that owning air space within common property walls, floors and ceilings was a much safer bet (you think?) and so strata title was born.

Half a century later, some fine old company title buildings still exist – and mortgage providers are still suspicious of them – while the idea of being able to choose your neighbours and restrict letting seems like a unit-dweller’s utopia.

One of the drawbacks, apart from measly mortgages, is that when you do have a dispute with neighbours, your only recourse is to the Supreme Court.

However, that could change with proposals that simple, low-stakes disputes be dealt with by a local court. You can read a summary of the proposed changes to company title law on the Forum.

The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Hangzhou Night Net.

Published in: 杭州楼凤

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