STP-14 Conversion of Strata Schemes to Survey-Strata Schemes
Version 1 – 04/01/2019
1 General (Division 3 of Part lll of the STA) (formerly section 16.1 of the practice manual)
An option available for lot owners in single tier strata schemes registered before 1 January 1998 is to convert the scheme to a survey-strata scheme (see section 31C of STA) allowing the boundaries to be re-aligned to include part or all of the common property into the lots. It may have advantages in certain schemes because buildings are not shown on a Survey-Strata Plan. A variety of easements can be used to protect existing rights. There is also no requirement for certification or approval from the WAPC or local government to effect the conversion.
Surveyors must not, under any circumstance, attempt to adjust boundaries between existing Strata Lots. Sections 31A-31K STA deal with the allocation of common property into existing Lots and the creation of certain supporting easements (see section 6). A Strata Plan of Re-subdivision may need to be registered prior to the conversion to Survey-Strata if any discrepancy exists within the existing scheme.
The unit entitlement of lots on a survey-strata is based on site value (i.e. the buildings are not considered when assessing unit entitlement). This may be an important consideration that could have advantages or in some cases, disadvantages.
Surveyors should treat conversions as they would a normal Survey-Strata Plan. The same plan forms, drafting and surveying standards as needed on a new Survey-Strata Plan are required (see Plan Example 30).
There is a different surveyor’s certification for these types of conversion. The STGR Form 38 specifies the surveyor’s responsibilities and obligations when survey-strata conversion plans are submitted for registration (see section 4).
Surveyors are required to show on the Conversion Plan a signed certificate under regulation 54 of the Licensed Surveyors (General Surveying Practice) Regulations 1961 (see STP-02 Lots section 1).
It is not possible under these provisions to vary or change an existing Survey-Strata Plan to eliminate common property lots. A Survey-Strata Plan of re-subdivision is required.
This conversion option can be used only once. There is no time limit as to the use of this option.
It is also feasible to use the merger option and at a later stage convert the Strata Plan to a Survey-Strata Plan but these options are only available for strata schemes registered before 1 January 1998 (see STP-13 Merger of Common Property and Lots in Certain Strata Schemes section 2 and Plan Example 31).
When an area of common property is to become part of a lot and is subject to a by-law setting out exclusive use, rights or privileges, upon registration of a Resolution of Conversion to a Survey-Strata scheme, the exclusive use, right or privilege ceases to be applicable to that area. of General Drafting Guidelines.
2 General Drafting Guidelines (formerly section 16.2 of the practice manual)
Most drafting guidelines for conversions to Survey-Strata Plans are common to all plans under the STA. These have been recorded in STP-09. Other drafting matters specific to Survey-Strata Plans are recorded in STP-09. For drafting requirements for conversions, this chapter should be read in conjunction with Chapters 10 and 12.
Both the standard Strata Plan form including the “Surveyors Certificate – Reg 54” and the current Form 38 are available via the e-Strata kit from “Landgate” and should be used for conversions (see STP-06 Obtaining Approvals section 8).
3 Headings (formerly section 16.3 of the practice manual)
Some minor changes have been made to accommodate the conversion. In the box headed “PLAN OF”, for example, a description of the actual conversion is to be used (regulation 8(1)), e.g. “LOTS 1, 2, 3 AND COMMON PROPERTY ON STRATA PLAN 12345”. There are no circumstances where a conversion plan can be registered without including the words “and Common Property” in the heading “Plan of”.
4 Surveyor’s Certificate (formerly section 16.4 of the practice manual)
STGR Form 38 must be used for a surveyor’s certification of conversion to survey-strata. Care should be taken by surveyors to ensure their responsibilities are fully understood when certifying conversions. In some cases, it may be prudent to seek legal advice as to the surveyor’s liability in respect of planning requirements. Surveyors must also certify all conversion plans with a “Surveyors Certificate – Reg 54” certificate (see STP-02 Lots section 1 and STP-14 Conversion of Strata Schemes to Survey-Strata Schemes section 1).
Section 31F(2)(c) provides that in respect of a conversion from strata to a survey-strata scheme under Division 3 of Part III of the STA the surveyor is required to certify that “a reference on the Survey-Strata Plan to a lot by a designated number is a reference to the lot designated by that number on the existing Strata Plan”. This means that it is not possible to include any part of a Lot on a Strata Plan into another Lot on a Survey-Strata Plan under the conversion to Survey-Strata process.
The inclusion of Part III in the STA was to enable division of common property between existing strata lot owners. It was not intended to enable subdivision of existing strata lots. If an existing strata lot is intended to be split between 2 or more survey-strata lots, then the procedures for termination of a strata scheme under Division 2 of Part III of the Act and the subsequent registration of a Survey-Strata Plan under Part II of the Act are applicable.
For surveyors who produce their own certificates on a word processor, there is extra flexibility to minimise the size of the form. It is permissible to exclude paragraphs in the certificate that do not apply thereby enabling the certificate to be better positioned on the plan form.
The STGR Form 38 states that as a result of a Notice of Resolution the surveyor certifies that the Strata Plan is converted to a Survey-Strata Plan and various criteria have been met. In real terms the surveyor is taking on certain responsibilities normally undertaken by local government and WAPC
These responsibilities can be divided into the following categories:
- Survey requirements.
- Town Planning.
4.1 Survey Requirements (formerly section 16.4.1 of the practice manual)
Survey work carried out on the conversion to survey-strata schemes must be in accordance with the Licensed Surveyors (General Surveying Practice) Regulations 1961. The survey guidelines for Survey-Strata Plans in STP-02 Lots and STP-09 apply. As from 31 May 2003 Field Books must be lodged for all Survey-Strata Plans including conversion to Survey-Strata (see STP-09 section 3.7.1) and conditions stated in guidelines STP-09 section 3.7.2 apply.
4.2 Town Planning (formerly section 16.4.2 of the practice manual)
The surveyor has specific responsibilities to ensure the newly created lots comply with certain requirements of any relevant Town Planning Scheme (STGR regulation 14O).
Briefly those requirements are:
- number of car parking bays per lot
- rights to light and air
- rights of support
- private open space for each dwelling
- pedestrian access to streets and common property
- rights for service access
- rights for access to storage areas, meters, etc.
When making the certification, consideration is to be given to the following:
- provisions of the relevant town planning scheme
- development approval (if any)
- effect on implied easements
- effect on new or previous restrictive covenants.
Surveyors may have to research these requirements before proceeding with the conversion as some schemes may not fit the criteria. Whilst surveyors may be able to legitimately sign a Form 38, they need to be careful not to create a situation where a conversion to Survey-Strata is undertaken and the resultant lots do not comply with the R-Codes. A Local Government may refuse to issue a building license for a non-complying lot in those circumstances. It may be prudent to seek legal advice as to a surveyor’s liabilities in respect of planning requirements.
5 Unit Entitlement on Conversion to Survey-Strata (formerly section 16.6 of the practice manual)
Unit entitlement on conversions to Survey-Strata Plans is based on site value within the meaning of the Valuation of Land Act 1978. The site value basis is a different concept to capital value so lot owners are required to have a unanimous resolution and consents from mortgagees to convert to a Survey-Strata Plan. A licensed valuer must certify a new schedule of unit entitlement on STGR Form 3.
6 Easements (formerly sections 16.5 and 16.7 of the practice manual)
In some cases, easements may have to be created on the Survey-Strata Plan to meet the criteria specified in regulation 14O. These easements are confined to lots and common property within the parcel.
Because Survey-Strata Plans do not show buildings, several types of easements may be used to protect various rights. Previously implied easements for services and support remain in place. (i.e. sewerage, water, electricity, gas, etc.) (see Plan Example 31 and Plan Example 32).
The conversion option from a Strata Plan to a Survey-Strata Plan enables the following types of easements to be created on the Survey-Strata Plan:
- Vehicle Access Easement under regulation 14E.
- Light and Air Easement under regulation 14F.
- Party Wall Easement under regulation 14G.
- Intrusion Easement under regulation 14H.
- Pedestrian Access Easement under regulation 14I.
These easements can be created between lots on the Survey-Strata Plan. Any easement must be depicted on the Survey-Strata Plan with broken lines and sufficient information to establish the easement boundaries. All other forms of easements on conversions can only be created by deed or transfer.
A schedule of Interests and Notifications (see STP-09 section 1.14) must then be positioned on the plan form as specified in STGR regulation 14B (1) (b). The schedule should state the “dominant lots” and “servient lots” as well as the type of easement, using the short form description, and regulation number. It is also possible to add to the schedule (in the “comments” column) the proportion of costs for maintenance over an easement by a specified percentage being recorded against the lots (STGR regulation 14C (a)) (see Plan Example 31).
Table 16.1 - Example of Schedule
Land Burdened/ Servient Lots
Benefit To/ Dominant Lots
Vehicle Access Easement
Reg 14E of STGR
APPORTIONMENT OF LIABILITY OF UPKEEP (Lot 1 70%, Lot 2 30%)
Party Wall Easement
Reg 14G of STGR
Reg 14H of STGR
APPORTIONMENT OF LIABILITY OF UPKEEP (Lot 1 100%)
Light and Air Easement
Reg 14F of STGR
Surveyors must ensure the schedule clearly indicates the lots that are benefited and lots that are encumbered. It is also possible to vary the terms of the standard easement by lodging a memorial or instrument (STGR regulation 14C (b)).
The sketch and schedule would remain as such but the instrument or memorial number would be recorded in the “origin” column of the schedule. No other easement types may be created automatically on conversions. It is possible to create an easement by deed between survey-strata lots in the conventional manner.
These types of easements are similar to a section 167 P & D Act easement. They should be dimensioned and noted on the Survey-Strata Plan.
Easements for motor vehicle access, parking or turning, light and air, and pedestrian access are to be dimensioned by length and width (STGR regulation 14B (1) (a) (i)).
Easements for intrusion are to be dimensioned by height, length and width and will therefore require a cross-sectional or elevation view (STGR regulation 14B (1) (a) (ii)). A floor slab, concrete footing or similar monument can be used to reference the height dimension provided AHD is used as the datum.
Easements for party walls must be dimensioned by height, length and width or may be unlimited in height. If limited in height a cross-sectional or elevation view may be used (STGR regulation 14B (1) (a) (iii)) and reference made to AHD.
7 Existing Easements (formerly section 16.8 of the practice manual)
On conversion of a Strata Plan to a Survey-Strata Plan, easements created on the Strata Plan will be carried forward on to the new Survey-Strata Plan. Surveyors must bring forward all easements of a spatial nature onto the Survey-Strata Plan. Existing easements created by deed or transfer will encumber the titles of those that it affects as well as being recorded on the encumbrance schedule of the Survey-Strata Plan.
8 Mineral Reservations (formerly section 16.9 of the practice manual)
On the conversion to a Survey-Strata Plan, a current search of the Strata Plan must be carried out to enable certain mineral reservations that run with the land parcel to be carried forward onto the Survey-Strata Plan (see STP-09 section 17).
9 Various Other Matters – See Mergers (formerly section 16.10 of the practice manual)
In STP-13 Merger of Common Property and Lots in Certain Schemes the topics of resolutions, use restriction, encroachments and registration are dealt with (for mergers) in STP-13 Merger of Common Property and Lots in Certain Schemes. With obvious changes, these items also apply to conversions.
Surveyors may encounter strata plans registered between July 1985 and December 1988 where the floor plans were surveyed and drawn with the understanding there was to be a strip of common property between the strata lot boundaries and the parcel boundaries. Surveyors who encounter a discrepancy of 0.1m or thereabouts during the survey of the conversion could safely attribute this discrepancy to this common property strip. This strip complied with Reg.5(3) of the STGR introduced in 1985 and needs to be distributed proportionally to the survey-strata lots (see Plan Example 71).
Where the Floor Plan on the original strata plan is endorsed with a section 6 STA use restriction, the conversion of the strata plan does not automatically remove this use restriction. It must be removed by lodging a Form 19 (STGR) by the strata company before the registration of the conversion can be processed.