A NSW committee member would like to know how to improve communications within the strata committee.
Table of Contents:
- QUESTION: Can the committee ignore my emails? What options do owners have, and is the committee required to respond?
- QUESTION: How do you ensure that the day to day decisions of the strata committee are conveyed to the strata manager? Is it best to nominate a single strata committee member to be the communication channel?
- QUESTION: What is the correct channel for raising issues pertaining to our strata complex? Should the lot owner first contact the Strata Manager or the Strata Committee?
- QUESTION: I’m secretary of our strata committee and the chairperson refuses to communicate about upcoming structural changes. How can we improve communications?
Question: Can the committee ignore my emails? What options do owners have, and is the committee required to respond?
As an owner in a strata scheme, l emailed the owners corporation about six months ago. They denied receiving the email. I resent the email via our strata manager about a month ago. The strata manager confirmed they received the email and had forwarded it to the committee. After no response, I sent a follow-up email, but they still haven’t replied. Can the committee ignore my emails? What options do owners have, and is the committee required to respond?
Answer: An owners corporation is deemed to have failed in exercising its functions if it does not act within 2 months of an application.
Under Section 232 of the Strata Schemes Management Act, 2015 (NSW)(Act), an owners corporation is deemed to have failed in exercising its functions if it declines to do so or does not act within 2 months of an application which entitles you to commence action through NCAT (see below):
232 Orders to settle disputes or rectify complaints
- Orders relating to complaints and disputes The Tribunal may, on application by an interested person, original owner or building manager, make an order to settle a complaint or dispute about any of the following—
- the operation, administration or management of a strata scheme under this Act,
- an agreement authorised or required to be entered into under this Act,
- an agreement appointing a strata managing agent or a building manager,
- an agreement between the owners corporation and an owner, mortgagee or covenant chargee of a lot in a strata scheme that relates to the scheme or a matter arising under the scheme,
- an exercise of, or failure to exercise, a function conferred or imposed by or under this Act or the by-laws of a strata scheme,
- an exercise of, or failure to exercise, a function conferred or imposed on an owners corporation under any other Act.
- Failure to exercise a function For the purposes of this section, an owners corporation, strata committee or building management committee is taken not to have exercised a function if—
- it decides not to exercise the function, or
- application is made to it to exercise the function and it fails for 2 months after the making of the application to exercise the function in accordance with the application or to inform the applicant that it has decided not to exercise the function in accordance with the application.
- Other proceedings and remedies A person is not entitled—
- to commence other proceedings in connection with the settlement of a dispute or complaint the subject of a current application by the person for an order under this section, or
- to make an application for an order under this section if the person has commenced, and not discontinued, proceedings in connection with the settlement of a dispute or complaint the subject of the application.
- Disputes involving management of part strata parcels The Tribunal must not make an order relating to a dispute involving the management of a strata scheme for a part strata parcel or the management of the building concerned or its site if—
- any applicable strata management statement prohibits the determination of disputes by the Tribunal under this Act, or
- any of the parties to the dispute fail to consent to its determination by the Tribunal.
- The Tribunal must not make an order relating to a dispute involving a matter to which a strata management statement applies that is inconsistent with the strata management statement.
- Disputes relating to consent to development applications The Tribunal must consider the interests of all the owners of lots in a strata scheme in the use and enjoyment of their lots and the common property in determining whether to make an order relating to a dispute concerning the failure of an owners corporation for a strata scheme to consent to the making of a development application under the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979 relating to common property of the scheme.
- Excluded complaints and disputes This section does not apply to a complaint or dispute relating to an agreement that is not an agreement entered into under this Act, or the exercise of, or failure to exercise, a function conferred or imposed by or under any other Act, if another Act confers jurisdiction on another court or tribunal with respect to the subject-matter of the complaint or dispute and the Tribunal has no jurisdiction under a law (other than this Act) with respect to that subject-matter.
Further, under Section 106(5) of the Act, an owner of a lot in a strata scheme may recover from the owners corporation as damages for breach of the statutory duty to repair and maintain the common property, any reasonably foreseeable loss suffered by the owner as a result of a contravention of this section by the owners corporation (but action must be commenced within 2 years of the lot owner first becoming aware).
This post appears in Strata News #680.
Question: How do you ensure that the day to day decisions of the strata committee are conveyed to the strata manager? Is it best to nominate a single strata committee member to be the communication channel?
Answer: We do find one main point of contact between the strata manager and the committee helpful for a lot of our strata schemes.
Yes, a lot of our strata schemes do have a day to day contact between the strata committee and us as the Strata Manager. This doesn’t prevent other members of the strata committee from contacting the strata manager at all, it just assists with process and governance.
I would suggest that if you do appoint a representative to contact the strata manager, when that person emails the strata manager with an instruction, copy the rest of the committee into that email. This way, everyone is kept in the loop and knows what’s going on. It makes sure there is transparency.
Whether or not we insist on this can depend on the volume of communication and whether there are any politics at play in the strata scheme but we do find one main point of contact on the committee helpful for a lot of our strata schemes.
This post appears in the March 2022 edition of The NSW Strata Magazine.
Question: What is the correct channel for raising issues pertaining to our strata complex? Should the lot owner first contact the Strata Manager or the Strata Committee?
Could you please provide the correct channel of raising matters when it comes to issues pertaining to our strata complex? Should the lot owner first contact the Strata Manager or is the Strata Committee the first port of call? We don’t have a building manager.
There is an ‘Owners Corporation’ letter box, but I don’t know if it ever gets cleared. If our Strata Committee has email addresses, we don’t have access to these. Should this be in the AGM Minutes once the Committee has been approved?
Is there a basic step by step chain of who to contact and if the matter still hasn’t been addressed, then what is the next step?
Answer: The first port of call is the strata manager. Send them an email or give them a call.
Depending on what the matter is, the first port of call is to the strata manager for response. Depending on the request, the strata manager will either make a decision on the spot or they’ll pass it back to the strata committee.
It’s highly unusual for strata committees to pass out their personal email address or phone numbers. I’ve recently had this end in disaster where a strata committee member gave their mobile phone number to an owner. The owner was upset and was texting late at night and so forth. My advice to the strata committee member was ‘Block that number’. That normally doesn’t happen, but the first port of call is the strata manager. Just send them an email or give them a call.
If you want an email passed on to the strata committee, normally they’ll do that, depending on the content and how it’s written. If it’s professional and courteous, normally, that would get passed across to the strata committee. If it’s guns blazing and all crazy, it probably won’t but I assume that it will be courteous and professional email they’ll be sent so that should get passed to the committee.
This post appears in the December 2021 edition of The NSW Strata Magazine.
Question: I’m secretary of our strata committee and the chairperson refuses to communicate about upcoming structural changes. How can we improve communications?
I am the secretary of a strata committee and the chairperson has been in charge of structural change required to comply with a fire upgrade. He is not answering my calls or texts in relation to obtaining more information about the changes.
There has been very little communication within the committee and I’ve found out by accidentally stumbling across a builder on-site, that decisions have been made about material choices.
What can I do?
Answer: Call a Meeting to discuss these issues with the entire committee to make sure that all members are in agreement regarding the course of action.
This is an excellent question. The Secretary should call a Strata Committee Meeting to discuss these issues with the entire committee to make sure that all Strata Committee members are in agreement regarding the course of action.
I would suggest that the scope of works, quotations and any council orders be provided to all members of the strata committee prior to the meeting. The builder should also attend the meeting to discuss any questions.
I would suggest that you engage both the chairperson and the strata manager to put together the agenda. This will ensure that they are also informed of the requirement of the other members of the strata committee to improve communications and transparency.
It is likely that a strata manager will have experience with dealing with fire matters and they would likely be a good resource for your strata committee moving forward.
This post appears in Strata News #272.
- Changes in Legislation to Annual Fire Safety Statements NSW
- NSW: Taming Keyboard Warriors – How to Deal With Unreasonable Strata Communications
- Decisions of the Strata Committee
This article is for reference purposes only and is not intended to be a comprehensive review of the developments in the law and practice or to cover all aspect of the subject matter. It does not constitute legal or other advice and should not be relied upon this way. Readers should take legal or other advice before applying the information containing in this publication.
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