These are unprecedented times. The news is everywhere and everyone is scrambling to maintain an air of normality. Here at O'Neill Strata Management we're intent on maintaining a business-as-usual attitude while at the same ensuring our clients, staff and contractors are kept safe.
We have recently been provided with a document from SCA (NSW) regarding COVID-19 and apartment living, which all residents should read. A copy can be downloaded here:
Best Practice Guide - COVID-19 - Residents
UPDATE - 30th JULY 2021
Below are some changes coming into effect from from Saturday 31st July 2021:
- Developers and builders can recommence work on construction sites across Sydney
- Low-risk construction sites require COVID-19 safety plans
- Tradespeople, including cleaners and gardeners are allowed to resume work with the following limitations:
- In an outdoor area, no more than 5 people can undertake work at the same time
- In an indoor area, no more than 2 people are permitted. However one of the household members can be present in a separate room (e.g. bedroom)
Our governing body, the SCA, sought clarification on any exemption for the large workforce within locked down LGAs that service strata schemes across Sydney.
Despite strong representation we have confirmed that the category of "other services" within authorised workers covers only workers performing essential services, like maintenance, safety, and upkeep related to public and recreational spaces.
Strata buildings are considered private spaces, which means that services, including security, BMs, cleaning etc., are not included in the "other services" category. Therefore, workers performing those services are not allowed to leave their LGA. However, workers can provide services to buildings within the LGA they live in.
UPDATE - 18th JULY 2021
From Monday 12:01am on 19 July 2021, work at construction sites in Greater Sydney including the Blue Mountains, Central Coast, Wollongong and Shellharbour, is not to be carried out unless the work is urgently required:
- to ensure the safety or security of the construction site
- to deal with environmental risks
- to maintain and ensure the integrity of critical plant, equipment or assets, including partially completed works, that would otherwise deteriorate
- to receive deliveries of supplies that would otherwise deteriorate
- to maintain public utilities
- to ensure the safe operation of existing transport infrastructure
- by or on behalf of NSW Health in response to the COVID-19 pandemic
- because of an emergency.
We are aware of a number of internal renovations being undertaken by owners at the present time – obviously these must cease until the regulations are eased. We have faith that all of our clients and their tradespeople will follow the public health orders, especially since failure to do so is breaking the law. If, on the off chance, any residents in your building are continuing with their renovations despite the new regulations (or are in breach of an of the other public health orders), we recommend you call the police.
Commencing 13th July 2021, masks are mandatory and must be worn throughout all common property areas of residential buildings in Greater Sydney. Examples of common property include, but are not limited to:
- Reception areas
- Mailbox areas
- Shared facilities such as gyms and swimming pools
We have already contacted all Strata Committee members to inform them of the above, and have provided copies of the posters issued by NSW Health. If required, you can download a copy of the "Wear a mask in common areas" poster by clicking this link:
Wear a mask in common areas
Please see some topics listed below to see how you might be affected from a strata perspective.
- We will not be cancelling any meetings;
- We will continue to book meetings as required; but
- All meetings will be held electronically. No physical attendance will be permitted. Owners will be able to take part in meetings by:
- Attending remotely using the Microsoft Teams application (similar to Skype). Instructions/invitations will be issued as your meeting date approaches;
- Completing and submitting your proxy form/voting slip; or
- Lodging your vote online through our online portal. Instructions/invitations will be issued with the agenda provided your building has resolved to accept pre-meeting electronic voting.
If you, your agent or your tenant requires a security key to the building we are more than happy to oblige. However, keys will now only be posted to the recipient via Express Post. Unfortunately there is an additional (nominal) fee for the Express Post envelope, but it’s a nominal fee and will help us all do our bit to keep the community safe.
We will continue to provide keys to contractors to undertake repairs and maintenance but this will be on a case-by-case basis.
We understand that some clients may be experiencing financial difficulties at this time however, at this stage, we have not heard anything from Strata Community Australia (NSW) (our governing body) regarding any plan to halt the payment of an owner's quarterly levies. Further, this is not something we have the power to authorise on behalf of the Owners Corporation.
If you are experiencing difficulty in paying your levies, the Strata Committee of your building may be able to approve a payment plan if the review and acceptance of payment plans has been resolved at a general meeting of the Owners Corporation. Please keep in mind, however, that the acceptance of a payment plan does not mean interest can be waived on any late payments. Furthermore, please remember that the Strata Schemes Management Act 2015 does allow for a 30 day interest-free grace period. This means that your levy due 1st April will not incur any interest or penalties provided full payment is made on or before 30th April. However, keep in mind that if the 30th day is a weekend, your payment won't be received until after the weekend, so best to keep an eye on the dates to make sure the funds are received prior to the 30th day.
We do apologise for not being able to do more to assist our clients in these trying times. Believe us when we say we would if we could but, unfortunately, legislation keeps our hands tied in this regard.
At this stage our office remains open, but we do have a majority of staff working from home. We ask the following of our clients:
- We are receiving an increased level of email traffic. While we will get to each and every query, our response times may be slightly delayed at this time. We do appreciate your patience;
- While our office remains open, to maintain safe distances we are not allowing entry into our office for any unscheduled visitors. If you do wish to attend our office in person, please call us first on (02)9387 7488 to make an appointment, at which time our staff will determine whether a visit to our office is required or whether we can assist you in another way.
We have received some advice around swimming pool safety amid the COVID-19 situation.
According to the Department of Health and the Centre for Disease Control (CDC) website there is no evidence that COVID-19 can be spread to humans through the use of pools and spas, and there is no evidence the virus can survive in a properly chlorinated and filtered pool. Proper operation, maintenance, and disinfection (e.g. with chlorine and bromine) of pools and spas should remove or inactivate the virus that causes COVID-19. Some public pools have closed, or lessons are being cancelled in some public facilities but these decisions have been made around social distancing not pool sanitation. In these instances the cleaning and maintenance of pools will continue to ensure proper water sanitation and to ensure pool equipment is still being monitored and maintained.
Please see link below from SPASA Australia relating to this also in an article posted recently.
If you do become infected with COVID-19 and need to self-isolate, please let our office know so we can inform the other occupants in your building. Note that we will maintain your privacy at all times, but the other occupants in your building should be aware that someone in their building has contracted the virus so that they can take any extra steps necessary to ensure their safety.
In the case of a confirmed case in a building, we will also contact the cleaners to request that they disinfect any handrails and other parts of relevant common property.
We are strata managers - we can’t provide health advice but just maintain some common sense. If you are unwell, show any symptoms of the virus or have travelled then it is best to self-isolate.
Regardless of your good/bad health, you should exercise proper hand hygiene, cough etiquette and be mindful of others by practising social distancing as recommended from the Department of Health.
Please click the below link for more information: