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Recommendation for Strata Buildings to review Building Materials

Due to the recent events, It is advised that Strata Buildings review their own procedures and own properties.  The Department of Fair Trading has advised that;

Building work in Australia must conform and comply with the National Construction Code(NCC), relevant technical standards, and local laws. This ensures our buildings are safe, healthy and durable which means we all can have confidence in their performance.

The products and materials a Strata Scheme selects, approves and how they are used must also be ‘fit for purpose’.

In recent years, concerns have been raised about the risks of using substandard (‘non-conforming’) building products or materials, or using them incorrectly (‘non-complying’). Use of these products can cause significant costs – from repairing and replacing products, to risks to safety, or even building failure.

Owners Corporations  can reduce and manage the risks associated with using non-conforming and/or non-complying building products by following five simple steps:

  1. Be informed about non-conforming and non-complying building products
  2. Be involved in the building product decision making process
  3. Be aware of the building regulatory system
  4. Be smart by using schemes that assure products
  5. Get help when you need it.

What are non-conforming and non-complying building products? 

In simple terms, non-conforming refers to ‘bad products, while non-compliant refers to products that are ‘used badly.

NSW is working with the Commonwealth and other State and Territory jurisdictions on strategies to reduce the risks from non-conforming and non-complying building products and materials.

Non-conforming building products and materials are those that:

  • claim to be something they are not
  • do not meet required standards for their intended use, or
  • are marketed or supplied with the intent to deceive those who use them.

So, a building product that is labelled or described as being “non-combustible” but which is in fact “combustible” is a non-conforming building product. 

Non-complying building products and materials are those that are used in situations where they do not comply with the requirements of the National Construction Code(NCC), other laws and Australian Standards.

That is a building product that is combustible, and described as such, but is used in a situation where a non-combustible product is required under the NCC, is not fit for purpose and is a non-complying product.

Who is responsible? 

Everyone in the supply chain has a responsibility to be involved and ensure the right products and materials are used in the right way in a building project.

Owners Corporations/Strata Committee members  place in the supply chain can also mean they have specific obligations or duties to check and assure that the right products and materials are used, and are used correctly.

Depending on your place in the supply chain you can face specific risks and liabilities if products and materials are non-complying or non-conforming.

Architects, designers, engineers and other specialists  

Architects, Designers, Engineers and other specialists involved in the planning, design and construction of buildings must ensure that any products, materials or systems specified or approved for use in their designs are appropriately approved, ‘fit for purpose’, and meet the performance requirements of the building elements in which they are used.

Approvers and certifiers  

Approvers and certifiers of development and construction have responsibilities for ensuring that plans and specifications and critical aspects of construction comply with Codes, standards and laws.

They can also have a role in inspecting building and construction and need to be aware of the signs and symptoms of the bad products being used, or products and materials being used badly. Evidence of the suitability of a product or material should be sought where necessary.

Developers, builders and other specialist tradespersons 

Developers, Builders and other specialist tradespersons do the work of installing and building with products and materials. They are not the only people responsible for ensuring that conforming and complying products and materials are used, but much of the risk and responsibility falls to them because they are the ones that ultimately do the building work.

They are also the ones most likely to have to do the work of rectifying or remedying problems that arise from using products badly, or using bad products. Therefore before a product or material is used, they should be satisfied as to that components suitability.

Pet Application Form

Like most of you, we also love having a loyal companion by our side when we are at home. However, many establishments have strict laws on pet ownership, depending on the property.

Many properties will accept pets with a various different constraints. You will need to review your dwellings rules to establish what pet you can apply for.

DOWNLOAD THE APPLICATION FORM HERE

Get to know the Strata committee members roles and responsibilities.

!Being elected to a Strata Committee (SC) can be an actually life-changing decision so owners should ensure that they know and make sure that they become fully prepared for what’s involved.

Under the NSW Strata Schemes Management Act 2015 the chairperson, secretary and treasurer have certain functions, some of which are listed below:

Chairperson

  • Presides at all meetings (takes the helm)
  • Conducts meetings (keeps things moving along)
  • Decides on issues relating to voting and procedure
  • Does not have a deciding vote

What sort of person would make a good chairperson?

  • A born leader and/or good organiser
  • Experienced in management
  • Skilled in dealing with people
  • Diplomatic in nature
  • Able to keep things moving without appearing dismissive or abrupt
  • Has a relatively thick skin (to handle the odd bit of abuse that willcome)
  • Has a certain amount of self-confidence

Secretary

  • Convenes the Strata Committee meetings and General meetings (except for FAGM)
  • Prepares, takes and distributes minutes of all meetings
  • Gives notices for the owners corporation and the strata committee
  • Provides information to the treasurer for the S184 Strata Information Certificate
  • Attends to correspondence on behalf of the Owners Corporation
  • Maintains administrative and secretarial records of the Owners Corporation
  • Maintains the strata roll

What sort of person would make a good Secretary?

  • Good organiser and very methodical
  • Experienced in time management

Treasurer

  • Issues levy notices
  • Receives and banks monies on behalf of the owners corporation
  • Prepares section 184 strata information certificates
  • Prepares financial statements and other financial records
  • Maintains accounting records
  • Provides information to help determine what the levies will be
  • Helps to determine the scheme’s future expenditure for the capital works fund

What sort of person would make a good Treasurer?

  • Good organiser and very methodical
  • Good at maths and numeracy
  • Accounting knowledge would be advantageous but isn’t essential
  • Computing skills, although not essential, would be handy
  • Trustworthy

Strata Committee members

Being elected to a Strata Committee (SC) can be an actually life-changing decision so owners should ensure that they know and make sure that they become fully prepared for what’s involved.

It is the duty of each member of a strata committee of an owners corporation to carry out his or her functions for the benefit, so far as practicable, of the owners corporation and with due care and diligence in accordance with section 37 SSMA.

Being a member of the strata committee is no longer just turning up for an occasional meeting or just approval quotes.  It’s not a decision that can be made lightly especially if your scheme has chosen a raft of issues that it could be facing.  These days strata meetings take a vast amount of time, effort and responsibility considering the ‘highly-legislated’ days we live in and the amount of legislation and regulations that now pertain to an Owners Corporation.

For some owners corporation’s being an Strata Committee  member means fronting hostile meetings with screaming, constant verbal abuse or even threats of assault.   Members are there to make decisions that are for the benefit of the owners corporation and not individuals.  Thereby passing difficult motions like,  one of the Owners  needs to be sued as they are unable to pay their levies even though it WILL create even more financial hardship on that owner,  or that why dose it take so long to get things fixed ( its been 24 hours) .

At the very least the meetings may be quite lengthy, there may be many controversial decisions, there’s no pay for the untold hours you’ve spent in the job not to mention the odd uncomfortable moment when you cross paths with someone who detests having to pay the capital works fund levies or with the owner who hates the colour the building was painted.  In an instant you, as a committee member, can become the target for everything that owners don’t like.

A vast amount of the owners corporation’s duties can only be undertaken either by the Strata Committee or the Strata Managing Agent – See section 13 of SSMA 2015.

The Owners Corporation must elect a strata committee, if no nominations are made or if no owners are elected then the only alternative is that the Strata Manager is a appointed in accordance with section 237 of SSMA 2015 and under an Order from the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal ( NCAT).

If a strata managing agent is appointed by the Tribunal, or by an owners corporation on an order of the Tribunal, to exercise a function, the function cannot, while the strata managing agent holds office, be exercised by any other person.

 

Strata management survey results

Over 1,000 owners in strata were asked if to their knowledge have any of the above defects ever been present in their strata scheme
More and more city-dwellers choose to live in apartments so they can live in more accessible locations. In the order of three and a half million Australians now live in multi unit housing. A quarter of Sydney people now live in what is virtually a fourth tier of government as strata dwellings set laws and impose taxes on residents. A further 800,000 are forecast to live in them by 2036.

More than a quarter of Sydneysiders already live in strata title developments and this will inevitably rise. One estimate puts the proportion at 45% by 2030.
Residents were also uncertain about who was responsible for funding major repairs to buildings, with 39 per cent of the 1550 people surveyed and interviewed saying they had problems regarding the management of their scheme.

About 75 per cent of the more than 400 strata-title executive committee members surveyed for the report said they would be interested in further training,
They found a high incidence of building defects, a lack of engagement by owners in the running of their strata schemes and inadequate financial planning for repairs and maintenance in a lot of buildings. Many strata owners do not understand their responsibilities and rights and resolving differences can be a bitter and unhappy process.

The most striking finding is 72% of owners say their building has had one or more defects. The figure rises to 85% when only buildings completed since 2000 are considered.

It can be argued there’ll inevitably be issues with any building project, so that’s not necessarily a big deal. However what’s shocking is three quarters of those 85% report one or more defects have never been fixed.

The three most commonly cited defects are water entering the interior of the building from outside, water leaking within the building, and internal and external cracks (see above).

Just as alarming is the finding that many owners have problems identifying the boundary between their property and common property! It’s got to be hard to define rights and responsibilities when an owner and the committee can’t be sure where properties begin and end!
Reaching agreement over matters of collective interest like maintenance seems very fraught. A large proportion (39%) of the committee members interviewed said there had been problems in reaching agreement.

The most common issues resulting in disagreements were those relating to major expenditures, including major repairs. The most common explanations given for these disagreements related to personality clashes and the competing interests of individuals in a scheme.

Disputes are accordingly a major issue. People disagree over parking, pets, noise and a host of other issues. New terms like “smoking drift” and “hotbedding” indicate there are new challenges with collective forms of tenure. The competence of strata managers is also a perennial concern.
When owners were asked about disputes, 51% said there had been disputes in the time since they’d purchased their unit, mostly about parking, noise and breaking by-laws. In 40% of disputes, formal measures were taken in an effort to resolve the issue.

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