Selecting a Strata Manager

Each property and property owner has various needs, expectations, geographic influences and more. Finding a strata manager to suit your requirements is essential, here are some things to look for when selecting your next Strata Manager:

Communication, Professionalism and People Skills

Honest and transparent communication is a must. Knowing that your Strata manager is telling you’re the truth and is across all your needs and requirements is the starting point. You will trust them to do many things on your behalf such as; paying levies, organising the repairs and maintenance, and ensuring your building meets the requirements of the legislation.

Experience & Qualifications

Managing an owners corporation requires experience. An experienced strata manager can often identify issues before they arise and thus saving money in the long term. It is also advised to select a strata manager that understand the market and clientele. Each geographic region in Australia has differences and needs, so finding a Strata Manager that understands everything about your property is going to benefit you and your tenants.

Also, ensure that your Strata Manager is properly qualified and knowledgeable. A fully qualified, licensed strata manager, for instance, will have undergone years of training in strata management and the process. training in areas like trust accounting to risk analysis. For example, in New South Wales and Sydney a Certificate of Registration and Certificate IV in Property Services is required.

Speak to us today about how you can find a strata manager to suit you.

Development Bond Information

Developers are required to lodge a 2% bond for residential and mixed-use high-rise strata buildings of 4 or more storeys.

The proposed amendments to the building bond is to enhance the ability of the Department of Fair Trading to verify the building contract price (which is the basis of the bond) and to clarify the role of the building inspector in the scheme.

Below are the proposed amendments:

  • Developers must lodge a building bond before applying for the occupation certificate.
  • The owners corporation and the developer must agree on the amount to be released from the bond to meet the costs of fixing identified building defects.
  • New powers for the Department of Fair Trading which will enable the verification of the amount of the contract price or building bond.
  • New entry to premises and search warrant powers.
  • An increase in the maximum penalty for failing to lodge the building bond from $22,000 to $1.1 million.
  • An offence for to provide false / misleading information to the Secretary in relation to the contract price or the building bond.
  • New ‘good faith’ liability protection for building inspectors, and the professional associations that appointed them, which excludes them from liability for anything done or omitted to be done in ‘good faith’ in conducting an inspection.

To see more information on the Regulations Amendment, use the link below:

http://www.fairtrading.nsw.gov.au/biz_res/ftweb/pdfs/About_us/Have_your_say/Strata_building_bond_and_inspections_scheme_Regulation_amendments_table.pdf

Please also view the Department of Fair Trading for even more information.

http://www.fairtrading.nsw.gov.au/ftw/About_us/Have_your_say/Strata_Building_Bond_and_Inspections_Scheme.page

Image result for dept fair trading nsw

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-04-19/nbn-lottery-did-you-win-and-get-fttc/9674884

See the full article here:

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-04-19/nbn-lottery-did-you-win-and-get-fttc/9674884

Reminder: Child safety locks deadline

Strata owners are reminded that childproof and robust safety devices must be fitted to all common property windows above the ground floor by 13 March 2018.

Windows can still be opened but only to a maximum of 12.5cm.

Self Managed Buildings

Self Managed Buildings can cause many headaches, which we discuss below. There are many property owners that are unaware of their responsibilities or their rights when their property is a body corporate-managed building or an owners corporation building. Lack of concern from the lot owners is a leading factor that contributes to many issues, damage and more.

Due to this fact there are many mistakes made by both the owners corporation and body corporate. Most of which cost a lot of time and money. More importantly it can severely affect the overall quality and upkeep of the building.

Colleagues holding question mark signs in front of their faces

Here are some of the most common:

  1. Right’s and responsibilities and unpaid fee’s to the owners corporation or body corporate.

To be able to conduct regular maintenance on the building and facilities payments need to be up to date so that the owners corporation or body corporate can carry out important work on the property. Many buildings in Sydney are ageing and need constant upkeep and attention to keep the building as an attractive prospect for tenants. Many owners simply don’t know their responsibilities or rights, which leads to costly mistakes by the owners corporation or body corporate, it can also affect the overall building quality.

As a building gets older and becomes rundown due to improper maintenance the safety of the property becomes a concern adding further to the attractiveness of the property and less likely to find tenants and lowering it’s resale value.

  1. Contractor payments

Many owners don’t realise the importance of paying contractors on a timely fashion. Many have incentives for on time or early payments and when these are not paid on time it can cost a lot more money and also disgruntle a preferred contractor or service provider.

  1. Enforcement of by-laws and building laws

These standards and by-laws may incorporate what proprietors and occupants can have on their balconies/outdoor areas, what pets are permitted, how facilities are to be used, and that’s only the tip of the iceberg. Neglecting to adhere to these can bring about a messy building, damage and create less appeal towards renters and buyers. It can likewise end up hard to authorize different standards and by-laws, since part proprietors won’t welcome the irregularity.

  1. Neglecting to employ a professional strata service

Numerous proprietors partnerships and bodies corporate choose to self-oversee which can have a few advantages as long as everything is functioning admirably. In any case, if an issue emerges, self-guided proprietors enterprise and bodies corporate are off guard. It’s harder to determine issues, oversee authoritative prerequisites, look after progression, and convey a first-rate benefit for good-natured volunteers. What’s more, when a proprietors company or body corporate ends up overwhelmed by an intense identity, which frequently happens, things can see issues get out of control quickly.

These are just a few things that makes us a leader in Sydney Strata management.

To learn more contact SYDNEY STRATA SPECIALISTS today.

Parties and loud noise

When it comes to noise complaints, parties and strata management, it is against the law to affect the sleep of others. Please check your building or states laws, as they may differ:

Take a look here. 

best-strata-managerIf you or your tenant wish to lodge a complaint about the noise of a neighbour, calling the police should be your last resort.  This creates conflict and, at times, an uncomfortable living environment moving forward. We advise that you do your research regarding your specific situation, especially on the laws and policy, before escalating further. If you have a relationship with the neighbour in question, try and resolve in a reasonable and friendly manner.

Alternatively, the owner’s corporation can be used to issue your neighbour with a compliance notice if all else fails.

Please keep in mind that if you are planning an event or party of your own, you should advise your neighbours prior to the event. Not only does this show respect to those in close proximity to you, they will appreciate the thought and gesture.

Repair v Redevelop? What you need to know

At Sydney Strata Specialist we are asked about the new changes in legislation regarding the 75% rule in selling / redeveloping the strata scheme.

The strata scheme may be facing repairs either immediately or in the near future –  these could mean that current owners raising tens of thousands of dollars each or even more.  There are vast amounts of buildings in the eastern suburbs that have concrete cancer or fire upgrades that have cost each owner $60,000 each.

The above is an example of Concrete Cancer

Meeting these levies can place an enormous financial burden on owners who are on fixed incomes.  In a lot of cases some owners voted NO or blocked the vote to the repairs as they simply could not afford to have the repairs undertaken.

The Government has recognised that a number of owners have blocked the sale/redevelopment and hence changed the laws to meet the ever-changing world of strata living.

Regardless if the owner’s corporation is looking to ether spending money on repairs or taking advantage of the growth. The majority of the owner’s corporation can now take advantage of the new laws.

Selling off the strata plan could be the way to go.  This use to be very difficult as it requires ALL (100%) owners to agree and sign off on the proposal.   Now the law is changing.

Now it is what is the most financial benefit that suits the majority –  Now that the consent of only a 75% majority of strata unit owners in a block will be required to consent to its demolition. This is in stark contrast to the current laws, which require agreement by 100% of strata unit owners for a block to be sold to a developer for demolition.

With many strata blocks within New South Wales becoming quite dated, ongoing maintenance and renovation is, without doubt, an extremely costly process, with the preferred option being to simply demolish the building.

Some of Sydney’s trendiest eastern suburbs are host to some of its oldest, and least sustainable, buildings.   A large number of buildings constructed in the 1970 had a life expectancy of 40 years.   We have now come to the end of the term.   Buildings that are on the coast are more susceptible to concrete cancer and if your building has not already had repairs due to this then it is only a matter of time.

sydney-strata-manager-old-apartments

Apartment block for sale in Cronulla

Allowing for redevelopment rather than expensive maintenance, offering potential increases in tenancy numbers and far more energy efficient buildings. Some local councils have already increased the height restrictions.

Some developers are offering apartment owners options such as ‘first option to buy deals’ and assistance with temporary or permanent relocation.

Talk to us today and see why we are the best strata managers in Sydney.

 

Pets and strata management

The following is an overview of the basics of pets and strata management.

The laws and around keeping animals in strata schemes are often disputed, which normally involves the owners corporation’s refusal to allow animals, however allowing pets is not clearly prohibited in the by-laws of the strata scheme that is in question.

If the owners corporation does not want to allow pets they need to pass a by-law that prohibits all pets and animals.

There are laws to protect people that require companion animals, such as guide dogs. Generally, all such animals are allowed by law. Each state can differ.puppy-guide-dogsin-training

If the by-law prohibits pets, applicants can seek permission in writing, although the owner’s corporation has the right to unreasonably refuse if the pet is not a companion animal.

In NSW the following laws are applied in the Strata Titles Act:

“NSW strata by-laws are subject to section 49(4) of the Strata Titles Act which states that by-laws cannot prohibit or prevent the keeping or use of a guide or hearing dog on a lot or common property.”

NSW strata communities are governed by the Strata Schemes Management Act 1996. The Act includes a model by-law regarding the keeping of animals as follows:

“Schedule 1 – By-laws 16 Keeping of animals (1) Subject to section 49 (4), an owner or occupier of a lot must not, without the approval in writing of the owner’s corporation, keep any animal on the lot or the common property. (2) The owners corporation must not unreasonably withhold its approval of the keeping of an animal on a lot or the common property.”

Ten basic facts that most Strata Managers get WRONG

Painting of a balcony ceiling – This is considered Common Property and therefore Owners Corporation costs.

Security doors or flyscreens (if not installed by an owner) are considered Common Property and therefore Owners Corporation costs.

False Ceilings added after the registration of the Strata Plan – Are Lot Owners’ costs to repair.

Fences that show as Thick Line on the Plan are considered as Common Property and therefore Owners Corporation costs.

Trees – Any part of the tree that is contained within Common Property is deemed the responsibility of the Owners Corporation. Any part of the tree that is contained within a Lot is deemed the Lot Owners responsibility. If one tree is trimmed or damaged – cost is apportioned to the ratio.

Skirting boards and architraves contained within common property areas are to be maintained at the cost of the Owners Corporation.

Shower waste in the bathroom is considered as Common Property.

Bath plug waste and bath pipe to common property pipe is the responsibility of the Lot owner.

Shower Screen door – Cost of any damage is borne by the Lot owner (In many cases this can be claimed on the OC Insurance policy as Damage.)

Window Lock Keys within a Lot – Are to be maintained by the Lot owners at the Lot Owners Cost.

Alterations in a Lot – FACTSHEET

ALTERATIONS IN A LOT – FACTSHEET

 

The new Strata Schemes Management Act 2015 that came into effect on 30 November 2016 brought a more common-sense attitude to owners who elect to undertake renovations in their apartments.

No owner should undertake any works to their Lot until they confirm with the strata manager, as this can save time money or prevent the owner from being in breach of the Act and or their by-laws.

This works will fall into one of three possibilities:

1: Cosmetic changes only

No approval is required. This involves minor changes such as inserting picture hooks into a wall.

2: Minor renovations

This means that a ordinally general resolution will be required (approval from the majority of eligible voters) to be added onto the next General Meeting of the Owners’ Corporation.  No works can commence until the Owners’ Corporation has held the meeting and approved the works.   A General Meeting of the Owners can be called for if approved by the Strata Committee or if at least 25% of the other owners approve to call the meeting.   This type of renovation must not affect the unit’s external appearance or its waterproofing, or involve structural changes.

3: Major renovations

This means that a special resolution will be required (approval of more than 75% of the unit entitlement from eligible voters) to be added onto the next General Meeting of the Owners’ Corporation.  No works can commence until the Owners’ Corporation has held the meeting and approved the works.   A General Meeting of the Owners can be called for if approved by the Strata Committee or if at least 25% of the other owners approve to call the meeting.   This type of works Includes renovations that will have an impact on waterproofing or the external appearance of the dwelling, or that involve structural changes. Such as bathroom renovations or anything effecting wet areas tiles.

In the example above of a bathroom renovation, wet area tiles are deemed to be common property of the Owners’ Corporation – therefore any work on those tiles will affect the waterproofing.  Hence the by-law will remove the responsibility for ongoing maintenance away from the owner corporation and passed onto the Lot owner.

The Lot owner must prior to the passing of the by-law provide written consent to the Owners’ Corporation  that it accepts and will continue to be responsible for the proper maintenance of, and keeping in a state of good and serviceable repair of the works it undertakes.

The by-law MUST clearly state and this as well.

The special resolution once approved will become a by-law of the Owner’s Corporation and will be registered  on the Owners’ Corporation Certificate of Title.

ALTERATIONS TO A LOT

When proposing to undertake renovations to a lot, the Lot Owners should review this factsheet and we suggest you complete the accompanying application form and checklist. Please submit the application form and checklist, along with any supporting documentation, to the Owners’ Corporation, care of admin@Sydneystrataspecialists.com.au.

YOUR LOT (THE APARTMENT)

In most strata schemes, the lot owner owns the inside of the unit but not the main structure of the building. Usually the four main walls, the ceiling, roof and the floor are common property. The internal walls within the lot (e.g. the wall between the kitchen and lounge room), floor coverings such as carpet and fixtures such as baths, toilet bowls and bench tops are all the property of the lot owner. However the wet area tiles (bathroom, laundry etc are in fact common property).

It is also important to note that while non-load bearing internal walls are not defined as common property, a Council Development Application may still be required where you are changing the dimensions of any room. The Council Development Application requires approval by the Owners’ Corporation.

 AIRSPACE

A lot owner effectively owns the airspace (and anything included in the airspace) inside the boundary walls, floor and ceiling of the lot. Lot airspace may include balconies and courtyards. Everything within the airspace must be maintained at the owner’s cost.

AREAS OF COMMON PROPERTY

The following is a checklist for common property:

  1. floor includes a ramp or stairway
  2. wall includes any door, window or other structure within the wall and their working parts
  3. ceramic tiles originally attached to a common property surface (eg. the floor or boundary wall)
  4. pipes in the common property or servicing more than one lot (ducting panels)
  5. electrical wiring in the common property or servicing more than one lot
  6. parquet and floor boards originally installed
  7. vermiculite ceilings, plaster ceilings and cornices
  8. magnesite finish on the floor
  9. balcony doors are usually common property if the strata plan was registered after 1 July 1974
  10. load bearing columns or walls
  11. Wet area floor and tiles (bathroom, laundry )
  12. the slab dividing two storeys of the same lot, or one storey from an open space roof area or garden areas of a lot (eg. a townhouse or villa), is usually common property if the strata plan was registered after 1 July 1974, unless the registered strata plan says it is not.

ARRANGING an EXTRAORDINARY GENERAL MEETING (EGM) OF THE OWNERS’ CORPORATION

There are only two ways that an Extraordinary General meeting can be held;

1) That the Strata Committee approve to call a EGM

2) That a formal request signed by at least one-quarter of the aggregate unit entitlement, instructing the Secretary via the strata manager convene the meeting

 CLARIFICATION OF COMMON PROPERTY

The registered strata plan defines the boundaries between common property and lots in a strata scheme. If you wish to clarify any areas of common property for your strata scheme, please contact admin@Sydneystrataspecialists.com.au  for further information.

 EXCLUSIVE USE BY-LAW

If the alterations affect Common Property such as point 3 above, then an Exclusive Use By-Law must be drafted by a qualified firm of Solicitors. We are able to assist in recommending a firm if required.  The current estimated cost of having a by-law drafted is $1,600.00 + GST. There are the cost of the meeting (as it requires the other owners voting on it) and then the registration of the by-law at the Land & Information Property Office (NSW Government) costs (See separate cost estimate sheet).

Without the Special By-Law, the work becomes unauthorised and you would be asked to return the property back to the way it was (Which no one wishes to do.).

SPECIAL RESOLUTION

Following receipt of the by-law motion and supporting documentation, we can then prepare a draft agenda for your review and discussion. Once all the documentation is delivered and in an acceptable format and wording the strata manager will prepare the agenda and send it to all owners.

EGM AGENDA / MEETING /MINUTES

The Exclusive Use By-Law (in Motion format) will then be presented at the EGM as a proposed Special Resolution. The meeting can be either a physical meeting whereby owners are invited to attend the meeting or it could be a paper meeting whereby the owners are invited to provide their proxy and instructions on how to vote (for or against the proposal) For a Special Resolution to be passed, no more than 25% of the unit entitlements vote against the resolution.

Please note that the number of proxy votes able to be held by an individual for schemes with less than 20 lots to one proxy vote, or 5% for schemes with more than 20 lots.

As the strata manager may attend the meeting and record the vote as well as prepare the Minutes of the meeting if instructed to do so.

Moving the Motion to a By-Law.

If the motion is passed, then the motion becomes a by-law and we as strata managers will complete the application to the Land & Information Property (LPI) office for registration (registered on the Certificate of Title) and make the necessary arrangements to have the by-law registered.

Notification of any change of by-law must be lodged with the Registrar General not more than 6 months after the passing of the special resolution to make the by-law otherwise the decision is considered lapsed and the motion would need to be passed again at another general meeting.

REGISTRATION OF THE BY-LAW

The newly created by-law now has to comply with Strata Schemes Management Act 2015 and Strata Schemes Development Regulation 2016. What that means is any change in the by-laws for a strata scheme that are lodged for registration MUST be in the form of a consolidated version of all the existing by-laws that incorporates the changes to the by-laws as well. The consolidated version of the by-laws must include any relevant model by-laws.  If an attempt to register a change in the by-laws without the consolidated version of the by‑laws, Land and Property Information will reject the document being lodged.  This means greater administration costs to creating lodging and registering by-laws.

REINSTATEMENT OF COMMON PROPERTY

Any Lot Owner who fails to follow the correct procedures runs the risk of having orders made for the reinstatement of Common Property to its original form at their expense.

WRITEN CONSENT

A Lot owner MUST complete a consent form prior to the Motion being prepared. An example of the written consent follows

TO: The Registrar-General

Land & Property Information NSW

Queens Square

SYDNEY NSW 2000

Dear Sir/Madam

Re: Consent to bylaw

In accordance with the Strata Schemes Management Act 2015 I consent to the Owners’ Corporation making the following bylaw conferring rights of exclusive use and enjoyment and/or special privileges and its conditions upon me in respect of my lot to be passed by the Owners’ Corporation at its general meeting to be held on the date specified below or at any adjournment of that meeting:

The by-law is to be made by the Owners’ Corporation of strata plan _________ at a general meeting on     /    / 2017 or any adjournment of that meeting.

 

Name in full:       ______________________________

Lot No:                 ____________

Signature             ______________________________

Date signed:       ___/____/2017