Torrens, Stratum and Strata Subdivision

Today’s article is in response to a question about Torrens title subdivision, stratum subdivision and strata subdivision.

The question is:

What is the difference between Torrens title subdivision, stratum subdivision and strata subdivision?

The differences between each type of subdivision is summarised below.


Torrens title subdivision involve the creation of lots that are defined by boundaries that limit the two-dimensional area of space occupied by the land. A person who owns a Torrens Title lot is assumed to own both the air above the surface and the soil beneath the surface to the extent necessary for the ordinary use and enjoyment of that land.


Stratum subdivision is a type of Torrens title subdivision that creates “stratum lots” which are lots that are limited in height or depth (or both).

If a subdivision proposes to create lots that are not limited in height or depth (or both), it is merely proposing a Torrens title subdivision.

Stratum subdivisions are used to enable conflicting needs of occupants to be accomodated, such as mixed-use developments with shopping centres on the ground floor and residential units above. Click here to see examples of stratum lots and stratum boundaries.

Other features of stratum subdivision include:

  • Easements for support and shelter are automatically created when the plan of subdivision is registered.
  • Other easements, like rights for access and easements for services, may be specified on the plan of subdivision. These easements may be required to regulate the use and maintenance of the building by the owners of the stratum.
  • A Building Management Statement may be lodged setting out the provisions for the management and maintenance of the building as a whole entity.

Strata subdivision creates strata lots, which are cubic spaces shown as a lot on a floor plan. Strata subdivision can also create common property. Common property generally includes driveways, gardens and communal foyers and these spaces are usually shared amongst the residents.


Why does it matter?

Clause 6.2 of the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979 (EPA Act) defines “subdivision” of land as follows (with emphasis added):

6.2 Meaning of “subdivision” of land

(1) For the purposes of this Act, subdivision of land means the division of land into 2 or more parts that, after the division, would be obviously adapted for separate occupation, use or disposition. The division may (but need not) be effected—

(a) by conveyance, transfer or partition, or

(b) by any agreement, dealing, plan or instrument rendering different parts of the land available for separate occupation, use or disposition.

(2) Without limiting subsection (1), subdivision of land includes the procuring of the registration in the office of the Registrar-General of—

(a) a plan of subdivision within the meaning of section 195 of the Conveyancing Act 1919, or

(b) a strata plan or a strata plan of subdivision within the meaning of the Strata Schemes Development Act 2015.

Note. The definition of plan of subdivision in section 195 of the Conveyancing Act 1919 extends to plans of subdivision for lease purposes (within the meaning of section 23H of that Act) and to various kinds of plan under the Community Land Development Act 1989.

(3) However, subdivision of land does not include—

(a) a lease (of any duration) of a building or part of a building, or

(b) the opening of a public road, or the dedication of land as a public road, by the Crown, a statutory body representing the Crown or a council, or

(c) the acquisition of land, by agreement or compulsory process, under a provision of an Act (including a Commonwealth Act) that authorises the acquisition of land by compulsory process, or

(d) a division of land effected by means of a transaction referred to in section 23G of the Conveyancing Act 1919, or

(e) the procuring of the registration in the office of the Registrar-General of—

(i) a plan of consolidation, a plan of identification or a miscellaneous plan within the meaning of section 195 of the Conveyancing Act 1919, or

(ii) a strata plan of consolidation or a building alteration plan within the meaning of the Strata Schemes Development Act 2015.

Following on from this definition, most local environmental plans include a control in relation to the minimum “subdivision” lot size. The control usually states that it does not apply to the subdivision of individual lots in a strata plan or community title scheme. However, the clause will usually apply to other types of subdivision as defined under the EPA Act – including Torrens title and stratum subdivision.

 

Posted by

Alyce is a civil engineer and a practicing lawyer, who has a desire to share her insights on the legal and practical realities of the development industry.

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