Frequently Asked Question.


How do we change Strata Manager?

What are By-Laws?

which Model By-Laws apply?

Have the levies been accurately calculated?

Are all expenses shared on an equitable user-pays basis?

Who pays to fix a balcony door?

 

Q: We are unhappy with the service provided by our current strata manager. How do we change strata managers?

 A: It would be prudent to first put the strata manager on notice that performance is unsatisfactory. If there is no improvement, there is a regulated process to follow to change strata manager. The managing agent’s agreement should also be checked as termination conditions, including payments, will be detailed in it.

A managing agent can only be dismissed by a majority vote at a general meeting, normally done at an AGM. If, however, your case is more urgent you can call an extraordinary general meeting, which is a general meeting of the owners corporation that is not an AGM. Written notice of the decision must be given to the agent.

You can convene an extraordinary general meeting by majority vote of the executive committee, or if owners entitled to vote, and who together hold at least one-quarter of the total unit entitlements, give a written notice to the secretary asking for the meeting to be held.

Similarly, the appointment of the new managing agent can only be decided by a majority vote at a general meeting. Only a person who holds a strata managing agent’s licence under the Property Stock and Business Agents Act 2002 can be appointed. The length of the appointment should be negotiated by the owners corporation and the managing agent.

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Q:  Are there any rules that govern the behaviour of owners and tenants?

 A: Yes, by-laws determine what behaviour is permissioble or not.  By-laws may be made in relation to any of the following:

safety and security measures, details of any common property of which the use is restricted, the keeping of pets, parking, floor coverings, garbage disposal, behaviour, architectural and landscaping guidelines to be observed by lot owners and other matters appropriate to the type of strata scheme concerned.

Most strata schemes adopt model by-laws for the strata scheme. Contact your strata manger or see the question below for which model by-laws apply to your scheme.

A by-law has no force or effect to the extent that it is inconsistent with the Act or law.

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Q: Our scheme was registered in 1970. What are our model by-laws?

 A: For schemes registered before 1 July 1997, the Strata Titles Act 1973 provided 29 statutory by-laws in Schedule One. The Strata Schemes Management Act 1996 (section 42) introduced a new Schedule 1 of 19 by-laws which applied instead to those schemes from 1 July 1997. The link to these 19 by-laws is:

http://www.austlii.edu.au/au/legis/nsw/consol_act/ssma1996242/sch1.html

For schemes registered after 1 July 1997, there are three options:

  1. There are no by-laws (very rare)
  2. A specialized or unique set of by-laws is registered, or
  3. A model set of by-laws is adopted (most common)

One more complication is that there are two sets of the model by-laws:

For schemes registered from 1 July 1997 to 31 August 2005:

Use the set of model by-laws under the Strata Schemes Regulations 1997.

The link to this full set of by-laws (all in Schedule 1) is:

http://www.austlii.edu.au/au/legis/nsw/repealed_reg/ssmr1997333/sch1.html

For schemes registered since 1 September 2005:

Use the set of model by-laws under the Strata Schemes Regulations 2005.

The link to this full set of by-laws (in Schedule 1to 6) is:

http://www.austlii.edu.au/au/legis/nsw/consol_reg/ssmr2005333/sch1.html

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Q: I enquired about a 3 bedroom unit for sale off the plan, and was told that the levy would be $300 per quarter. As this looks rather low, can you please advise?

 A: Some developers provide an unrealistically low levy in order to make the running costs of a strata unit appear unrealistically low. New 3 bedroom units would require a combined levy (administration and sinking fund added together) of around $800 per quarter, and closer to $1,000 per quarter if the building has a lift. Other facilities that add significantly to levies include swimming pool maintenance or a gym.

Other developers may quote an administrative fund levy only. Although this amount may be reasonably accurate, it does not present the full picture as sinking fund contributions are also required. Contributions to the sinking fund provide for infrequent and often major expenses such as repainting, common property major maintenance expenses and very large and infrequent expenses such as replacing a roof.

There is nothing more embarrassing for a strata manager than having to explain to someone who has purchased a new unit a month or two before the first AGM on the assumption of a $500 per quarter levy, that the required amount is close to $1,000 per quarter.

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Q:  I live alone and pay the same amount of money of the strata plan’s water usage expenses as a family of four who live next to me. Is there anything that I can do about this?

 A; Expenses of an owners corporation are generally paid according to units of entitlement (UOE). UOE are set by the developer and seldom change afterwards. They are used to determine the share of contributions of individual owners to the administrative and sinking funds, from which strata plan expenses are paid. UOE are calculated to represent the relative perceived market value of the different units, taking into consideration the size, aspect and other features of individual units.

As with any averaging method, it cannot be accurate in all cases for all expenses. Water usage is a common example of this. Each unit pays its own service fee, but the usage fee is paid by the owners corporation for the whole building. In this case, their may well be some inequities, and some unit may end up subsidising others a few dollars a month, but the cost of separately metering each unit can costs thousands of dollars to install.

Unfortunately, this is one of the examples where there has to be some give and take in communal living.

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Q: The sliding door on my balcony has jammed and significant repair costs are required to restore it to working order. Is this my expense, or is the owners corporation liable for a repair to common property?

A: The distinction between individual lot owner’s property and common property is one of the most complex areas of interpreting strata laws and regulations. In order to answer this question, one needs to know the date of registration of the strata plan and also requires access to the strata plan.

If the strata plan was registered before 1 July 1974 the balcony wall including the windows and door and their working parts are generally part of the lot and the lot owner’s responsibility for maintenance and repairs (unless there is a notation on the strata plan or the balconies are not shown on the strata plan).

If the plan was registered after 1 July 1974 the balcony wall including the windows and doors and their working parts are generally common property and the owners corporation’s responsibility (unless the strata plan says otherwise). This excludes flyscreens and/or security doors where they were installed by an owner, after registration of the strata plan.

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BALMAIN- Andrew Jakes, Suite 127, 85 Reynolds Street, Balmain NSW 2041
Tel: (02) 9818 6842, Email: info@acebodycorpnsw.com.au
Andrew has extensive experience in property investment, finance and business systems but considers himself primarily a "people person". He was drawn to Ace Body Corporate Management by his desire to bring all these skills together in his own business.......read more.

NORTH SHORE- Kim Tolano, Suite 4, 142 – 144 Spit Rd, Mosman NSW 2088
P.O.Box 517 Mosman NSW 2088
Tel: (02) 9016 3990, Mobile: 0414 699 872 Email: northshore@acebodycorp.com.au
Kim Tolano, the Principal, is a Licensed Real Estate Agent and Licensed Strata Manager. She has a vast knowledge of the North Shore, having lived on the Upper North Shore and Lower North Shore for over 30 years.........read more.

CHIPPENDALE- Glen & Joanne Mobbs, 303,/27-39 Abercrombie St.Chippendale, NSW 2008
P.O.Box 540 Broadway NSW 2007
Tel: (02) 96901737, Mobile: 0448 490 105 Email: chippendale@acebodycorp.com.au
Both Glen and Joanne believe in total, professional commitment to their clients, whilst at the same time being very approachable and easy to get on with.........read more.

LIVERPOOL- Andrew Jakes
Suite 127, 85 Reynolds Street, Balmain NSW 2041
Tel: (02) 9818 6842
Email: liverpool@acebodycorp.com.au
Andrew has extensive experience in property investment, finance and business systems but considers himself primarily a "people person". He was drawn to Ace Body Corporate Management by his desire to bring all these skills together in his own business...........read more.

COFFS HARBOUR - Ash Goulding,
PO Box 432 Coffs Harbour NSW 2450
Tel:  02 6651 8252, Mob: 0423 120 702, Fax: 02 6651 3383, Email: coffsharbour@acebodycorp.com.au
Ash Goulding specialises in insurance, actively works with unit owners to provide positive outcomes – both practically and in accordance with the legislation – to resolve conflicts and disputes, and has a keen interest in legal compliance issues of Owners Corporations..........read more

Baulkham Hills- Andrew Jakes
Suite 127, 85 Reynolds Street, Balmain NSW 2041
Tel: (02) 9818 6842
Email: info@acebodycorpnsw.com.au
Andrew has extensive experience in property investment, finance and business systems but considers himself primarily a "people person". He was drawn to Ace Body Corporate Management by his desire to bring all these skills together in his own business..........read more.

North Coast- Bella Vallesi
PO Box 653 Ballina NSW 2478
Tel: (02) 6687 4526, Fax: (02) 6687 4091
Email: northcoastnsw@acebodycorp.com.au
Bella Vallesi is the strata manager of Ace body Corporate Management (North Coast) NSW servicing the Northern Rivers area of New South Wales. She has been a local resident in the area for more than 10 years..........read more.