A couple wanted to purchase an apartment to live in and had their eyes on a unit title property.

The Vendor provided them with a pre-contract disclosure statement which included information about the unit title development and the Body Corporate. The couple were unsure about what they should be looking out for in the disclosure, so they approached a lawyer to help them.

The lawyer advised the couple about the following:

Earthquake strengthening, fire upgrades and weathertightness issues

Earthquake strengthening, fire upgrades, and weathertightness issues plague many apartment buildings and require specific due diligence. It is important to check the Body Corporate minutes for any references to these issues and ask for copies of costings or contracts for such work.

A Builder’s report may also help to identify moisture issues in the walls, which may indicate weathertightness issues. 

Unauthorised alterations and additions

An owner needs the consent of the Body Corporate to carry out any structural alterations to a unit titled property.

If the additions alter the footprint of the unit on the Unit Plan, the whole complex needs to be re-surveyed and a new title issued to avoid a defective title.  Banks generally will not lend on a defective title and this could negatively impact the Body Corporate’s insurance policy. The cost of correcting the title will generally be allocated to the owner at fault.


Carparks or storage units may be on separate titles to the apartment, so it is important that these are identified and transferred to the Purchaser on settlement.

Body Corporate Rules

The Body Corporate Rules sets out the unit owners’ responsibilities in relation to living on the development. This may include rules as to owning pets, rubbish, keeping common areas clean and tidy, use of common facilities, contractors, security, and other operational matters.

Purchasers need to understand their responsibilities and what might be prevented that they had not considered.

Ownership Interests

Each owner of a unit title has an ‘ownership interest’ which relates to their voting rights in the Body Corporate and the proportion of levies an owner will pay. Purchasers should be aware of the total ownership interest they are receiving when purchasing a unit.


Most major banks are happy to lend against a unit title apartment.  They may however require clients to have a higher deposit and for the unit to meet a minimum square metreage requirement. 

In some areas banks require the unit title complex to be at an acceptable seismic rating, which is usually around 67% of the building code, before they will agree to approve finance. 

Purchasers should include a finance condition in the Agreement for Sale and Purchase or obtain pre-approval for finance for the specific property, rather than general approval, before they sign an Agreement for Sale and Purchase.  This will ensure they are not bound to proceed with a purchase when a bank had given general approval but decline to lend against a specific property.

Leading law firms committed to helping clients cost-effectively will have a range of fixed-price Initial Consultations to suit most people’s needs in quickly learning what their options are.  At Rainey Collins we have an experienced team who can answer your questions and put you on the right track.