Strata Management is the shared responsibility held by a group of owners in a shared dwelling such as an apartment block. They are responsible for coming together and agreeing on matters relating to the general maintenance and repairs to the common property.
There are some self-managed plans out there, but most buildings elect to appoint a strata manager to ensure the building complies with the applicable legislation and that the owners corporation is fulfilling its obligations.
The first step is to get a few quotations from different strata managers to get an idea of how much they're going to cost and what services are provided for that fee, and what services you will be charged extra for.
Once you and the other owners have decided which strata management company you'd like to engage then you're ready to start changing!
You can call an Extraordinary General Meeting (EGM) requesting the termination of your current strata manager (if applicable) and the appointment of the new strata manager. Generally there are four items on the agenda for this EGM:
Adopting the minutes of the previous general meeting
Termination of the current strata manager
Appointment of the new strata manager
Authority for the new strata manager to change the address for service of notice with the applicable government bodies
Alternatively, if you have an upcoming Annual General Meeting then you can ask your strata manager to put the necessary items on the agenda for that meeting.
Once both the outgoing and the incoming strata managers have been notified of the decision, the two managers will make contact to arrange the collection of the books and records.
At each AGM, a budget is accepted that determines approximately how much money the building will need to raise during the next financial year in order to cover all common property maintenance and anticipated repair expenses. The sum needs to be paid by all owners of the property - usually in quarterly instalments.
Each owner's portion is the total of the budget divided by the Units of Entitlement (UoE) of your unit, or for Company Title buidlings, by the number of shares owned.
For example: Say there is a block of four units that is made up of 100 UoE. Two of the four units have 20 UoE, and the other two units have 30 UoE.
Let's say the budget for that year is $5,000 for the Administration Fund and $10,000 for the Capital Works Fund. The budget total ($15,000) is then divided by the UoE for each owner.
Therefore, the owners of the units with 20 UoE will each need to pay $3,000 ($750/quarter) and the owners of the units with 30 UoE will each need to pay $4,500 ($1,125/quarter).
The same process applies to special levies that may be raised from time to time.
The best way to go about it is to contact your strata manager and inform them (usually in writing except in the case of an emergency) of the required repair you wish to have undertaken. By doing it this way, you can usually find out straight away if it's an owners corporation expense or if it's the owner's responsibility.
Once all of the details have been provided, your strata manager can arrange the repair with a reputable tradesperson.
This can often cause problems with owners if repairs are arranged without first finding out who is responsible for the work/payment of the repair so it's best to follow the procedures of your building/strata manager.
The best thing to do is contact your Strata Manager to find out where the responsibility lies. Generally, things inside your unit such as paint, carpet, tap washers, furniture and appliances are the owner's responsibility to repair. Other items such as water pipes, windows, external walls, fixtures and window frames are generally the responsibility of the owner's corporation.
You should first check with your strata manager/strata committee to seek approval for the repair before having it undertaken. It's possible that, if undertaken without approval, the refund may not be approved; and
The repair will only be refunded if the work was an owners corporation responsibility.
Standard Annual General and Strata Committee meetings are held once a year, however some committees choose to meet monthly, quarterly, or as often as required if there are certain issues that need to be looked at or monitored more regularly.
The role of the Strata Committee can vary from building to building. Some Strata Plans have very active committees who like to oversee everything that happens at the building from general maintenance and invoice approvals, all the way up to overseeing the financial reports so they can keep track of how the building is performing financially.
Usually, Strata Committees oversee works at the building and approve quotations for major replacements such as TV antennas, fences and so on.
The most common method is to nominate yourself for a position on the committee at the next Annual General Meeting, provided your levies are up to date.
Alternatively, a member of the committee might sell their unit. When this happens and no Annual General Meeting is on the horizon, their position will need to be filled in which case you can nominate yourself to be appointed.
By-laws are rules or policies that apply to every strata plan or community development. These rules cover subjects like pets, noise, damage to common property, disposal of rubbish and smoking. Further, there may be additional by-laws registered to cover any renovations or alterations made to individual apartments. The purpose of these additional by-laws is usually to ensure any damage caused as a result of the renovations is the responsibility of the lot owner and not the owners corporation. In reality, the actual by-laws that apply to each building can vary so the subject can be quite a minefield.
By default, the by-laws that apply to a building are determined by the date the strata plan was registered, and whether or not any additional by-laws were included at registration.
The Certificate of Title for the common property will show details relating to the by-laws that apply to your building.
The new Strata Schemes Management Act that came into effect in November 2016 implemented a new set of "Model By-Laws" which will apply to all strata plans registered after 30th November 2016.