Unit title is a type of property ownership where home owners own a defined part of a building such as an apartment, generally known as a unit. They also have shared ownership, as tenants in common, of common areas such as lifts, lobbies or driveways. These areas are known as common property. Each unit may also have additional land or building called unit subsidiaries, such as car spaces and balconies.

Such developments are usually apartment blocks, townhouses, office blocks and industrial or retail complexes.

The unit owners in a development make up an owners corporation. The owners corporation is responsible for managing financial and administrative matters relating to the common property and to the building.

A lease for the common property is granted to the owners corporation.

The Unit Titles Act 2001 provides for the subdivision of the land by a units plan and is administered by the Environment and Planning Directorate while the Unit Titles (Management) Act 2011 (Management Act) provides for the management of Units Plans and is administered by the Justice and Community Safety Directorate. The rights and obligations of lessees and the owners corporation are contained within the Management Act. All lessees, intending purchasers and office bearers in the owners corporation should familiarise themselves with the Management Act.

What types of units are there?

There are two types of units in the ACT - Class A or Class B.

Class A - usually apartments and the boundary of the unit is defined by floors, walls and ceilings of the unit.

Class B - usually units that have a ‘footprint’ on the ground - such as a townhouse - and the boundary is defined by a surveyed line around the land the unit sits on.

Unit Plans can now only be for Class A units or Class B units, not both.

How many units can I build?

The lease for the land determines the maximum number of residential units. For commercial developments, the lease may define the gross floor area allowed for each use.

However, a minimum of 2 units and an area for common property is required.

Can development be staged?

Yes. Any development of four or more units may be built in stages. This enables the developer to sell some completed units while others are under construction. Anyone interested in staging a development should discuss their proposal with the Environment and Planning Directorate before starting work.

How to apply to unit title?

The Environment and Planning Directorate has produced the Guide to the Unit Title application process which sets out the steps when submitting an Application for Unit Title. The application must be submitted on the approved form which identifies additional document requirements.

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