Sometimes, it is true, storm clouds gather in Strata-Titled communities joined at the hips by the regulations of The Body Corporate. They say, and many historians agree, Australia really got on its own when land ownership was denoted by giving parcels of land ‘Title’. This is how the name of “real Estate” came about. I remember my father being very puzzled when, after arrival in 1956, he assiduously queried the name of ‘real estate agent’. Are their estate agents that are not ‘real’, was his logical Dutch question? Apparently before ‘Title’ people just put pegs in the ground and claimed it as belonging to them. People squatted by putting down their swag between the pegs and went to work tilling the soil, had babies and went to sleep in between. The document of Title was called Torrens named after a pioneer of Title, Mr Robert Torrens. Robert lived to a ripe old age of 94 and is buried at Rookwood. It is claimed the last words he uttered, were, ‘ I am feeling as Crook as Rookwood.’
However, and this is the crux of this little piece, when many arrived and populations grew faster than Torrens Titles could accommodate, many wanted to share the same block of land on the one single title. This was first used by large Italian migrant groups. We all know that ‘en famille’ around the’ tavola’ and forever ‘en casa’ is what makes Italian lives tick and has so for thousands of years. Not for them the world of segregated privacy and gloomy darkness with the enforced separation of the Robert’s Torrens Title.
It was an extraordinary large Italian family who just all wanted to remain together on the one parcel of land but living at close quarters. The name of this very large family was Signore et Signora, ‘Strata’. After seven years of marriage they had nine children. Both papa and mamma were very busy and fertile. The family included many uncles and aunties, many of indefinable ages. They were born so many years ago, they simply never thought of the passing years. They just wanted to be able to see any new bambinas and sorellis at any given time of the day. A beehive of life and birth with the occasional death celebrated at Rookwood with copious amounts of Chianti with lots of calamari and prawns. It has to be said though, in respect for those dearly departed; many aunties would dress up in black. Some had also forgotten who they were mourning for, but that’s how Italian families functioned best. It was all a bit of a tradition and many had died so long ago. Mourning and feasting were always very close, almost the same. Both involved the intake of good food and plenty of it.
That’s how it was around the late nineteen fifties or so. They called their multi families property, the Strata en Casa. Officials that visited this large community of Italian migrants felt it needed a more formal and Anglo name and decided on Strata Title. And that’s how the term ‘Strata Title’ was born. It was incorporated into statutes and made into a stern law. Soon many communities followed suit.
However, and we all know when ‘however’ is used, it is usually followed by a disclaimer or worse, some kind of dreaded bit of news. When the Strata Title was used and incorporated by those not used to communal life in order to get a foot-hold in a cheaper form of ‘real Estate’, (are their Estates that are not ‘real’?) it now is a “Title” thick with possible stirrings of discontent. Some people do not hold to common values and shared Strata ownership and insist on doing Torrens Title things. In other words, they want to do individual things on shared communal property.
Many annual Body Corporate meetings are now steeped in anger and misgivings about differences between both forms of Title. Both Mr Robert Torrens and the Family Strata used to live harmoniously together.
Not anymore now. Or so it seem and it has come to pass.