Strata - How Can It Help You?
We often get asked by people living in strata complexes, what are the benefits of using a professional strata manager rather than “self managing”. Each strata is managed by an owner’s corporation and the legislation and compliance requirements governing the owner’s corporation are complex. In NSW an owner’s (or executive) committee needs to be elected and they are charged with making decisions on all matters which confront the owner’s corporation. These include the control, maintenance and repair of the common property, enforcing the bylaws, and has the ability to make new ones. Proper accounts need to be maintained and funds for long term maintenance need to be accrued in the form of a sinking fund (now capital works fund). All these tasks can be onerous so a Strata Manager can be engaged to work with the owner’s corporations to ensure they are compliant with their legal responsibilities and strive to protect owner assets.
More often than not we tend to think of Property Managers looking after rental houses and Strata Managers looking after unit complexes. But what happens when a unit is rented out and the management of that unit is given to a property manager? This can often lead to some confusion by the owner or tenant as to who to contact if there is a repair or maintenance issue. Do they contact the property manager or the strata manager? In simple terms, anything inside the airspace of the unit eg. internal walls, fixtures, carpet and paint on the walls is the responsibility of the owner or property manager. Everything outside that airspace eg. walls, windows, doors and tiles on the floor is usually common property and the responsibility of the Strata Manager or Owners Corporate.
When selling a unit in a strata complex often your purchaser will request a Strata File Inspection Report. This is an independent report on the “health” of the Owners Corporation. This will show the financials, insurance details, work to be done, meetings and any issues arising. A poor report can derail a sale, or bring a purchaser back to renegotiate terms including the sale price. By having your own Strata File Inspection Report done at the point of putting your unit on the market for sale you can be informed and upfront regarding the complex, removing the element of surprises and protecting any prospective sale.
We have just adopted the new Strata Laws introduced last year, they have been modernised to fit the reality of living in a strata townhouse or apartment today. Some key changes include:
- allowing owners to adopt modern technology to conduct meetings, vote, communicate and administer their scheme
- the need for owners to review by-laws within 12 months, which can be customised to suit their lifestyle - such as whether to allow owners to keep a pet by giving notice to the owners corporation
- a process for the collective sale and renewal of a strata scheme
- a simpler, clearer process for dealing with disputes
- broadening tenant participation in meetings
- a new option to manage unauthorised parking through a commercial arrangement between a local council and a strata scheme.