Frequently asked questions
Here are some of the most frequently asked questions that our strata reform team has received about community titles.
The following terms are abbreviated on this page:
- The Community Titles Act 2018 is written as ‘CTA’.
- The Community Titles Regulations are written as ‘CTR’.
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Community Titles FAQs
- How is a community scheme different from a strata titles scheme?
The key difference is that strata titles allow only one scheme to be created on a single parcel of freehold land.
This strata scheme can be further subdivided by changes to lot boundaries and common property; but does not include subdividing a lot to create another scheme.
Community titles allow the same land to be subdivided in a way that allows a lot in a community titles scheme to be subdivided to create another community titles scheme and in this way creates several individual schemes (community titles schemes) in a single community. These community titles schemes may be building schemes (like strata) or land schemes (like survey strata or a combination of the two).
Management of common property, scheme types, by-laws, planning requirements and body corporate are also different between community titles schemes and strata titles schemes and further details on these differences are outlined in the FAQs below.
- How is a community scheme created?
For a community scheme to be created, a parcel of land must first be subdivided by a community titles scheme. For this to occur a CDS must be approved by the Western Australian Planning Commission and relevant planning approvals must be obtained.
A CDS is a new planning instrument specifically for community schemes. It may control the subdivision of land by a community scheme, the development of land subdivided by the scheme, the purposes for which the land subdivided by a community scheme may be used, the staging and sequencing of such subdivision and development, and other matters relevant to a community scheme.
When the first community titles scheme is registered over the land the community scheme comes into existence. To register the first community titles scheme over the land, a scheme notice, scheme plan, schedule of unit entitlements and scheme by-laws must be lodged with the Registrar of Titles, together with the approved CDS, for incorporation into the Register.
A certificate of title (for each community title for a lot in the scheme) will then be created and registered in accordance with the Transfer of Land Act 1893. Lots in the first community titles scheme (tier 1 scheme) can then be subdivided by a community titles scheme (tier 2 scheme). Lots in a tier 2 scheme can then be subdivided by a community titles scheme to create tier 3 schemes. When a lot in a community titles scheme is subdivided by a community titles scheme that lot becomes a tier parcel. There can be up to 3 tiers of community titles schemes in a community scheme.
Read more on creating a community scheme.
- What does a Community Development Statement do?
A CDS sets out how a community scheme will be subdivided and developed into community titles schemes. Whilst the bulk of the content requirements for a CDS are contained in the CTA the CTR will prescribe several requirements for a CDS and associated matters important to the implementation and operation of a CDS.
The provision of information in a CDS will help set out how the development of a community scheme will proceed and guide the planning decisions around the subdivision and development of the community titles schemes in the community scheme. This will provide certainty for developers, decision makers, owners of lots and buyers in these schemes.
Read more on Community Development Statement.
- How many tiers are allowed in a community scheme?
The CTA allows for up to three tiers of community titles schemes in a community scheme.
- Is each scheme tier captured by a different scheme plan?
No. Each community titles scheme in a community scheme requires its own scheme plan that identifies the tier, defines the boundaries of each lot in the scheme and whether the scheme is a community titles (building) or (land) scheme.
The only scheme plan that captures an entire tier is the tier 1 scheme plan for the tier 1 scheme which subdivides the whole parcel of land in the community scheme into tier 1 lots with or without common property.
The number of tier 2 schemes (and therefore tier 2 scheme plans) in the community scheme depends on how many tier 1 lots there are in the tier 1 scheme and how many of those are subdivided by a tier 2 scheme.
The number of tier 3 schemes (and therefore tier 3 scheme plans) there are in the community scheme depends on how many tier 2 schemes there are and how many tier 2 lots in those schemes are subdivided by tier 3 schemes.
- What is a tier parcel and how is it different from a lot?
A tier parcel is a parcel of land subdivided to create a community titles scheme.
A parcel of freehold land subdivided by a tier 1 scheme is a tier 1 parcel and the lots that make up the tier 1 scheme are tier 1 lots. A tier 1 lot can be subdivided by a tier 2 scheme. Where this occurs the tier 1 lot becomes a tier 2 parcel and the lots that make up the tier 2 scheme become tier 2 lots. A tier 2 lot can be subdivided by a tier 3 scheme. Where this occurs the tier 2 lot becomes a tier 3 parcel and the lots that make up the tier 3 scheme become tier 3 lots.
A tier parcel is different from a lot in that it is an area of land or a cubic space that contains a community titles scheme.
Tier parcels are important to voting within community schemes. Where a community titles scheme made up of lots and tier parcels votes on a resolution, both the lot owners and the community corporations of the schemes that makes up the tier parcels have a vote.
- Is the Community Titles Act 2018 similar to the community titles framework used in other jurisdictions within Australia?
Community titles schemes have been in place in other Australian jurisdictions such as New South Wales, South Australia and Queensland for many years. While some concepts are shared between Western Australia’s community titles law and the community titles law in other jurisdictions, there are significant variations.
The CTA is an entirely new legislative framework that has been developed specifically to suit Western Australia and operates independently to the Strata Titles Act 1985.
- Will these schemes facilitate diversity and affordability in housing?
The flexible nature of community titles schemes will allow a range of housing options to be accommodated within a single community scheme.
The CTA makes provision for both community titles (land) schemes and community titles (building) schemes to exist within a single community scheme. This flexibility is not something that is currently available for strata titles schemes and will mean that apartments, townhouses, and freestanding homes can all be offered within a single scheme.
There are several ways the flexibility inherent in community titles schemes could be used to keep the cost of ownership of affordable housing within a community scheme down. Affordable housing could be included in a scheme in a higher-level tier (i.e., tier 1 rather than 3). This would limit the common property shared with other schemes and the contributions these scheme members make to the maintenance of this common property.
Cost of ownership of these schemes could also be kept down by confining expensive and non-essential facilities to schemes in lower or unrelated tiers. In these cases, only the schemes that have access to and use of these facilities will pay for their maintenance.
The Community Development Statement will include details on the kinds of housing that will be included in a community scheme. Once this information is captured in the Community Development Statement it become binding on planning decision makers and the developer.
- Can I have a community titles (land) scheme and a community titles (building) scheme in a community scheme?
Yes, if the first community titles scheme created in a community scheme is a community titles (land) scheme the CTA allows the community scheme to contain both community titles (land) schemes and community titles (building) schemes.
However, it is not possible for a community titles (land) scheme to be created from a lot in a community titles (building) scheme.
- Can a community scheme contain a leasehold scheme?
No, the CTA does not include provisions for leasehold schemes to be included in a community scheme.
- Can I have a strata titles scheme in a community scheme?
No, the CTA does not allow for strata titles schemes in a community scheme.
- Can I convert an existing strata titles scheme to a community titles scheme?
There is no mechanism under the Strata Titles Act 1985 or the CTA to convert a strata titles scheme to a community titles scheme. An existing strata titles scheme would need to be terminated prior to the land or building being used to create a community titles scheme.
- Can an existing single building be used to create a community titles scheme?
Yes, an existing single building can be used to create a community titles (building) scheme.
- Who manages the community titles schemes that make up a community scheme?
Each community titles scheme in the community scheme will have its own community corporation.
In a tier 1 scheme the tier 1 community corporation’s members are tier 1 lot owners and the community corporations of the tier 2 schemes (where a tier 1 lot has been subdivided by a tier 2 scheme). In a tier 2 scheme the tier 2 corporation’s members are tier 2 lot owners and the community corporations for any tier 3 schemes (where a tier 2 lot is subdivided by a tier 3 scheme). In a tier 3 scheme the tier 3 community corporation’s members are lot owners in the tier 3 scheme.
Each scheme’s community corporation is responsible for the decision making relating to the scheme as well as ensuring that these decisions are reflected in the decision making of the community corporation of the scheme that it belongs to.
Subject to the Act, scheme by-laws, and any ordinary resolution of the community corporation, the council of a community corporation is responsible for performing the functions of the community corporation.
Unless the scheme by-laws provide otherwise the council of a community corporation is made up of:
- Each owner of a lot in that tier of the scheme; and
- Each community corporation of any community titles scheme that belongs to the scheme.
The CTA allows a community corporation to appoint a person as a scheme manager to perform certain scheme functions under a scheme management contract. This person fills the same role that a strata manager would fill for a strata titles scheme, but many will have broader functions because of a community titles scheme belonging to another community titles scheme or being related to another community titles scheme in the community scheme.
Scheme managers will manage the day to day functions of the community titles scheme in line with the scheme management contract and the provisions of the CTA.
- Each owner of a lot in that tier of the scheme; and
- Does each scheme need a different scheme manager?
No. There is no requirement in the CTA or CTR for a community corporation of a community titles scheme to appoint a scheme manager. If the community corporation of the community titles scheme appoints a scheme manager, there is no requirement in the CTA or CTR for that person to be a different person to a person appointed by another community corporation for a community titles scheme in the community scheme.
- Why are volunteer scheme managers not required to obtain Professional Indemnity cover?
When developing community titles schemes for Western Australia great care was taken not to discourage owners from managing the affairs of their own scheme. To help facilitate this, several of the scheme manager requirements do not apply to volunteer scheme managers including the requirement to obtain and maintain professional indemnity insurance.
- Who owns the common property?
Common property in a community titles scheme is owned by the lot owners in the scheme under which the common property was created.
Common property created by a tier 1 scheme (tier 1 common property) is owned initially by the lot owners of the tier 1 scheme. Common property created by a tier 2 scheme (tier 2 common property) is initially owned by the lot owners of the tier 2 scheme, and common property created initially by a tier 3 scheme (tier 3 common property) is owned by the lot owners of the tier 3 scheme.
When a tier 1 lot is subdivided to create a tier 2 scheme the share in the tier 1 common property attached to the tier 1 lot becomes owned by the owners of the lots in the tier 2 scheme.
When a tier 2 lot is subdivided to create a tier 3 scheme the share in the tier 2 common property that attached to the tier 2 lot becomes owned by the owners of the lots in the tier 3 scheme.
In this way the owner of lots in a tier 3 scheme own a proportionate share in the tier 3 common property in their scheme and a share in the tier 2 common property in the tier 2 scheme to which their tier 3 scheme belongs and a share in the tier 1 common property in the tier 1 scheme.
- Who maintains the common property within the community scheme?
Common property in a community scheme is maintained by the community corporation for the scheme under which the common property was created.
This is an equitable approach to the management of common property as it allows a community corporation to manage, maintain and contribute to the common property its members own and use.
A good example of this approach is a community scheme made up of residential, retail and commercial community titles schemes. Under the CTA, the tier 1 scheme may contain driveways and visitor parking that all the lot owners own and contribute to through levies. The residential scheme may have recreational facilities that are common property and that the residential lot owners own and use exclusively and pay to maintain. The retail scheme may have a loading dock that the retail lot owners own and use exclusively and pay to maintain. The commercial scheme may have a lobby lift that the commercial lot owners in that scheme own and use exclusively and pay to maintain. In this example the retail and commercial schemes aren’t paying for the maintenance of the recreational facilities that they don’t own and can’t access and likewise the residential scheme is not paying for loading docks and lifts that they don’t own or use.
- Can a lot owner opt out of ownership or responsibility for common property?
Under the CTA an owner of a lot in a community titles scheme cannot deal separately with or otherwise dispose of their share in the common property of the community scheme. This requirement applies to all common property to which an owner has an interest regardless of which tier of the community scheme the common property is in.
A community corporation may make by-laws for the management, control, use and enjoyment of common property in its community titles scheme as well as exclusive use by-laws for the common property in its scheme. These by-laws could be used to limit the responsibility of an owner or owners for common property.
These by-laws can be included as scheme by-laws when a community titles scheme is first registered or can be made by special resolution. They cannot be unilaterally implemented by an owner who wishes to no longer have responsibility for common property.
- What are contributions?
The principal function of each community corporation is to control and manage the common property in its scheme. A contribution is the money paid to a community corporation by each of its members so that the community corporation can carry out its functions.
The amount that a community corporation requires as contributions from its members is fixed by the community corporation at its annual general meeting. The amount that each member of the community corporation must pay is determined by the relative unit entitlement of the member’s lot or tier parcel in the community titles scheme (unless the scheme by-laws provide otherwise).
Community corporations will also be members of the community corporations of the schemes they belong to. These community corporations must pay a contribution to the community corporations they are a member of. These contributions must be apportioned between the community corporation's members according to the relative unit entitlement of the member’s lot or the tier parcel in the community titles scheme. However, this requirement can be altered through scheme by-laws.
- Do all contributions get paid to the tier 1 community corporation?
No. If the community titles scheme is a tier 1 scheme, contributions will be paid to the tier 1 community corporation by its members, comprising of owners of tier 1 lots and community corporations for tier 2 schemes that have subdivided tier 1 lots. If the community titles scheme is a tier 2 or 3 scheme, contributions will be paid to the tier 1 or 2 community corporation respectively.
As an example, an owner of a lot in a tier 3 scheme would pay a contribution to the community corporation of their tier 3 scheme (tier 3 corporation). The tier 3 corporation is a member of the community corporation for the tier 2 scheme (tier 2 corporation) to which the tier 3 scheme belongs and will pay contributions to the tier 2 corporation. In turn, the tier 2 corporation would pay a contribution to the community corporation of the tier 1 scheme in which it is a member.
- Do community titles schemes have by-laws?
Yes, every community titles scheme must have scheme by-laws. Scheme by-laws will apply to the community titles scheme that creates them as well as to the community titles schemes that belong to that scheme. This means that:
- Tier 1 scheme by-laws will apply to that scheme, as well as any tier 2 and tier 3 schemes that belong to the tier 1 scheme
- Tier 2 scheme by-laws apply to the tier 2 scheme, as well as any tier 3 schemes that belong to the tier 2 scheme
- Tier 3 scheme by-laws only apply to that community titles scheme.
- Scheme by-laws for each community titles scheme should be consistent with the by-laws for the scheme the community titles scheme belongs to. However, if there is any inconsistency, the by-laws for the scheme the community titles scheme belongs to prevail.
A significant difference between strata by-laws and community titles by-laws is that the CTA makes no distinction between governance and conduct by-laws and provides no default by-laws for schemes.
Each community titles scheme’s by-laws are registered when the scheme is registered. This autonomy will help remove the tension often encountered between lot owners in mixed use strata titles schemes where the single set of by-laws endeavours to consider the needs of the different uses.
Under the CTA a community scheme could have three community titles schemes covering a commercial development, a retail development and a residential development. Each scheme can operate with by-laws unique to that scheme. The residential scheme could have by-laws around the use of the pool, the retail scheme could have by-laws around access to a loading bay, and the commercial scheme could have by-laws apportioning levies for a service lift. The tier 1 scheme could have by-laws, applicable to the residential, retail and commercial schemes, around apportioning of costs for a common entrance to the schemes.
Read more on scheme by-laws.
- Why have standard by-laws not been included in the Community Titles Act 2018 as they have been for the Strata Titles Act 1985?
The flexibility offered by community titles schemes will allow a broad range of very diverse schemes to be developed under the CTA. Given the expected variation between community titles schemes, a standardised approach to by-laws was not taken as what may work for one scheme will not work for another. Developers will need to consider the most suitable by-laws that will service the community scheme that they are creating.
- How does a community corporation hold meetings?
A community corporation must hold an annual general meeting of the members of the corporation once in each 12 months and not later than 15 months after its previous annual general meeting.
General meetings of a community corporation may be convened by the council of the community corporation. The council must convene a general meeting on the written request of a member or members of the community corporation with lots or tier parcels with an aggregate relative unit entitlement of 25% or more. The general meeting can be held in person or with some people participating remotely via telephone, video link, or another form of remote communication.
The by-laws of the community titles scheme must specify the procedures around meetings of the community corporation including who will arrange and preside over meetings, how decisions will be made and who will carry out the administrative functions associated with meetings (such as meeting notifications and minutes).
The CTA also includes a provision that community corporations must cooperate with other community corporations in the community scheme in coordinating meetings to facilitate the decision making of all tiers of community titles schemes.
Read more on community corporations.
- How many council members are permitted for each community corporation?
Unless the scheme by-laws provide otherwise, the council of a community corporation is constituted of the community corporations of the community titles schemes that belong to the scheme as well as the owners of each lot in the scheme.
- Is a majority vote 50% of the votes?
No, in community titles schemes there are two general types of resolution; an ordinary resolution and a special resolution (different rules apply for a termination resolution to terminate a community titles scheme).
For any resolution one vote may be cast for each lot or tier parcel in the community titles scheme and the value of a vote is the unit entitlement of the lot or tier parcel.
For an ordinary resolution to pass, the value of the votes cast in favour of the resolution must be greater than the value of the votes cast against it.
A special resolution is used in specific circumstances such as if the resolution is about the governance of the scheme. In this case the total value of the votes cast for the resolution must be more than ¾ of the total value of all the lot and tier parcels in the scheme.
- Does a single lot owner get a say in how the whole community scheme is run?
Every lot owner’s wishes are considered in voting on matters which impact the whole community scheme via representative voting. Before the tier 1 corporation can vote on a resolution (for example a special resolution to change the tier 1 scheme by-laws) first a vote needs to be passed by ordinary resolution in the tier 2 schemes and any tier 3 schemes that belong to the tier 1 scheme. The representatives of these schemes then cast the vote for the tier parcel at the tier 2 or tier 1 level, as the case requires, in the manner their scheme voted.
Consequently, if the tier 3 scheme voted against the ordinary resolution the tier 3 scheme’s representative will vote against the resolution in the vote at the tier 2 level. The representative’s vote is one vote for the tier parcel. In the tier 2 scheme the value of that vote is the unit entitlement attached to the tier 3 parcel.
The subsequent vote at the tier 2 level may achieve the required ordinary resolution, if lot owners and representatives of other tier 3 schemes in the tier 2 scheme cast their vote in favour. The representative of the tier 2 scheme then casts the vote attached to the tier 1 parcel in favour of the resolution of the tier 2 scheme.