The recent case of Charitou v The Owners – Strata Plan No 10394 [2021] NSWSC 392 considered a dispute under a contract for the sale of part of the common property in a strata title building. The plaintiff purchaser occupied one of the units as a tenant of the owner and entered the contract to acquire the common property and convert it into a flat. However, the contract was never completed as the completion of the purchase was conditional upon a plan of re-subdivision for the new flat being registered. The works requested by the purchaser to convert the common property into a residential space within 12 months, with a maximum extension period of 18 months. The purchaser applied for a development approval but encountered difficulties in obtaining it within the time. The purchaser’s solicitors wrote to the Strata Corporation’s solicitors to obtain confirmation that the contract was still on foot, but the conversion works were never undertaken.

The plaintiff commended proceedings initially seeking specific performance, and then later seeking damages for breach of contract. The Strata Corporation cross-claimed for a declaration that they had validly terminated the contract.

The Court held that the plaintiff was not entitled under the terms of the contract to an extension of the date for completion beyond the time stipulated, and that in any event, he had also failed to demonstrate that the Strata Corporation had repudiated its obligations under the contract.

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