Strata managers manage the day-to-day affairs of a strata scheme, they are appointed by the strata executive committee (Council of Owners). Strata managers provide services and advice on:
Financial management(budgets, invoicing levies and tracking arrears and taking action on defaulting owners), paying accounts | Insurance | Clerical and administrative support | Ad hoc maintenance as requested by the Council of Owners and contract support | Ensuring Legislative Requirements are being met | attending to general maintenance such as grounds upkeep. | Arranging AGMs and EGMs
The role requires an organised person and someone who is good with people as they will have to deal with difficult clients from time to time. The duties will vary depending on the size and type of the property. The Strata Manager only communicates with the owner of the property not the tenants
The Council of Owners (CoO) is elected at each Annual General Meeting (AGM) from the pool of strata owners. Their role is to exercise the functions of the Owners Corporation or body corporate and to ensure the Budget is adhered. The CoO should have no less than 3 and no more than 7 owners (this is determined by the Strata By-Laws). The CoO elects a Chairman, Secretary and Treasurer.
The CoO must also carry out all decisions made at the AGM. They can’t ignore the strata scheme members nor can they bring in their own agenda.
The first thing a strata scheme should establish is whether the strata manager has a good working knowledge of the relevant legislation.
Look also at how the strata management company communicates and consider whether they have the depth and experience to service the building.
A lot of strata schemes choose their strata manager based on price but this is not necessarily the best way of choosing. If the building is going to be complex then it may be best to consider based on experience instead. Sometimes there may be hidden costs such as charges for stationary and archiving so it’s always best to check this out too.
There is talk of introducing an accreditation program where members in each state will be able to gain a certain level of accreditation according to the training and experience they have in the sector. This will make it easier for strata schemes to determine if their strata manager has the appropriate qualifications and experience to manage their property. Currently there are no restrictions on who can manage a Strata Company. Some owners manage themselves, but it is widely accepted that using a licensed Real Estate Agent is preferable as it ensures your Strata company funds are protected by the State Government Fidelity Guarantee fund and held in a Trust account.
It is always preferable that the strata manager keeps the strata funds in an audited trust account to protect the owner funds
By choosing an accredited strata manager, strata schemes are also choosing someone who adheres to a code of ethics and undertakes regular training.
The strata manager works for the strata scheme and not for the individual property owner. If you have an issue that you raise directly with your strata manager they are sometimes obliged to pass it on to the CoO for review. In general though we enquiry from interested owners.
Some don’t need a strata manager. Any Strata Company up to 5 lots can create a By-Law negating the requirement to hold a trust fund; collect levies and conduct Annual General Meetings Any Strata Company can be self managed. As the legislative requirements have become more complex as time goes by, many have realised they need the help of a strata professional to ensure they are meeting their legal requirements. If they don’t meet their requirements they can end up before the relevant tribunal and may be subject to penalties and orders.
Often many owners don’t have the time or expertise to run their strata scheme and the strata manager can help steer the owners on the right track. It is also wise to protect the funds of the Strata Company by having them held in a trust account.
Ask whether your strata manager is proactive in delivering a service. Are they professional? Do they act in a timely manner? Do they provide the level of care you expected? Are my funds in an audited trust account? Do they keep good records and are the accounting records up to date? Can the strata manager provide evidence that they have the necessary skills and experience (references?)
If the answers are yes and if your strata manager is also accredited, then you have likely found the right Company for your scheme. As the prospective Strata Manager to provide you with the address of some of the complexes they manage or for references.