These Q&As about the duties of a building manager, the Privacy Act and disclosing information about lot owners have been answered by Frank Higginson and Todd Garsden, Hynes Legal.
Question: If we ask the building manager to inform the residents of works being done, he absolutely refuses. We believe this is one of his duties as the building manager.
I live in a Townhouse complex in Brisbane and we have an onsite Building Manager. I am also on the Committee.
If we ask the building manager to inform the residents of works being done, he absolutely refuses and will only inform the tenants in his rental pool. This duty then falls back on the Committee and we don’t believe that it is our job. We believe this is one of his duties as the building manager.
This is very frustrating as the committee are all volunteers and most of us work full time. We certainly don’t get paid to do this type of administration work.
Answer: I suspect the manager is right.
I suspect the manager is going to be right. The starting point has to be their caretaking agreement and what they are specifically obliged to do. It is possible (but very unlikely) that the agreement obliges them to deliver notices to lot owners individually. If it does, then they must.
If it doesn’t, then it is up to the committee to manage the process – like it would have to in a building without management rights.
A caretaker has no direct relationship with lot owners individually other than via their letting appointment if they manage lots for lot owners. They have no relationship as caretaker with owner occupiers or outside managed properties. They are accountable to the committee only for their performance as caretaker.
This post appears in Strata News #293
Question: Should purchasing parts etc for repairs around the complex form part of the duties of a building manager? If so, what mileage can I charge the Committee?
Answer: If it is not set out in the contract, it is what is agreed.
If it is not set out in the contract, it is what is agreed.
And if they don’t agree to pay it, it is one of those things where you might not actually go and do it if it is not your job …
These styles of argument are usually symptomatic of larger issues, and before you start playing the contract by the black letter of it, it is worth understanding what you are not doing that you should be …
This post appears in Strata News #270
Question: We are experiencing unprofessional conduct from our onsite managers who are providing personal information about lot owners. The police have been involved. We receive no support from the Body Corporate Managers and Committee.
Many of the lot owners in our scheme are experiencing the most unprofessional conduct from our onsite managers.
The most serious issue being the managers providing personal information about a lot owner such as when this lot owner is home if their vehicle is in the basement etc to a perpetrator that has charges of assault, trespassing, and stalking. What are the duties of a building manager when it comes to disclosing information about lot owners?
Police have spoken to the on-site managers, as it is a breach of the Privacy Act and places the lot owner at a safety risk.
We receive no support from the Body Corporate Managers and Committee, as they feel it’s not their problem. They have stated it’s a civil matter.
What can we do?
Answer: I doubt these issues are captured by the management rights agreements which means it also has little to do with the body corporate or the committee.
The first thing is whether we can say for absolutely certain that the information is being passed on? And by who? Who factually knows this? It would be a very dangerous allegation to make, especially if the fact someone is home could be found by alternate means – likely simply seeing them come in or observing the lights were on.
I don’t think it is a breach of the Privacy Act – that relates to information and also only captures businesses with a turnover of more than $3 million. See this article I wrote about this matter – QLD: What does the Privacy Act mean for management rights?
Off the cuff, I think it is a civil matter too. I doubt these issues are captured by the management rights agreements which means it also has little to do with the body corporate or the committee.
This post appears in Strata News #200
Question: What are the duties of a building manager when it comes to providing relevant information to committee members before a vote is taken?
I would like to know the duties of a building manager, and if it is their responsibility to provide all relevant information to committee members before a vote is taken?
Should they do the research or expect the committee members to it?
I live in Queensland and many of our lot owners are very unhappy with the managers’ level of commitment and execution of their duties.
Answer: It depends on the terms of the caretaking agreement – and what you consider to be all relevant information.
It depends on the terms of the caretaking agreement – and what you consider to be all relevant information.
As an example – if the issue was getting some concreting done and the caretaking agreement required the manager to get two quotes, the manager would just need to get the two quotes and present them to the committee. The manager wouldn’t need to go as far as researching the contractor and doing a background check on them. That would be something the committee is then responsible for.
If the caretaking agreement required the manager to make a recommendation to the committee about which quote to use, then the manager would probably need to do some research so that they could back up their recommendation.
This post appears in Strata News #129.
Question: What is deemed appropriate behaviour by onsite managers? Do the duties of a Builder Manager include the enforcing of by-laws?
I was wondering if you could clarify what is deemed appropriate behaviour by onsite managers.
We have an onsite manager at our complex which is made up of 78 Units and 6 townhouses.
Our manager takes photos of anything on a veranda or in a courtyard he deems inappropriate or that he feels the Body Corporate will deem inappropriate. For example, someone once had an item on their veranda, he photographed it and then showed the evidence to the Body Corporate at a meeting. No one seemed to find it weird that he had taken a photo using his mobile phone. Even the Strata Managers who oversee the management did not speak up.
He will also text residents to advise them that their washing is visible in a courtyard, however, in all our courtyards the only way you could see into is if you’re peering from a height using binoculars.
This is unnerving given the fact there are quite a few women who live alone at our complex and a number of the properties have children or dependents residing.
Is it against the law as a manager to peer into properties to catch people out? Do these actions form part of the duties of a builder manager?
Answer: With management rights, it is sometimes feast or famine.
Complaints can be made about extremely zealous managers (as appears to be the case here), and then the next one will be about the manager completely ignoring what they have to do. Of course, a lot of managers do get it right, but then there is no cause to complain!
What I suspect is happening here is that the manager is taking an almost militant approach to managing compliance with the by-laws. There is probably a by-law saying that items shall not be stored on balconies. There is probably also a by-law saying that washing (if it is hung outside) should not be visible from the common property or other lots. These are both ‘traditional’ template by-laws that we see in many schemes.
How the manager is going about it is obviously causing concern and for me, it starts with what the manager’s agreement says about by-laws and who should actually enforce by-laws.
We first wrote about this in 2011 – Does a Resident Manager Enforce By-Laws?
In essence, the normal position will be that the manager should tell the committee about breaches of the by-laws and then it is up to the committee to do with that as it sees fit. It is not the role of the manager to call people out on their by-law breaches.
Ultimately, it should be a matter of instruction. If the committee said to the manager ‘we don’t care about washing – leave it go’, then that is the end of the story. If the manager’s conduct is intrusive, you can obviously have a direct communication about that, but the alternative is to formally write to the committee with the concerns and ask them to manage them.
Question: What qualifications form part of the duties of a building manager? Does our Building Manager need any specific qualifications like a resuscitation certificate or any OHS qualifications?
What qualifications form part of the duties of a building manager? I have read that a building manager/caretaker only needs a Reality License to hold a Building Manager position in QLD. Are there no other qualifications they need, such as OHS certification, qualified in resuscitating for the pool, plus others?
Answer: There are no qualifications required for a caretaking service contractor under the Act. These could be imposed by agreement but it would be very unusual.
There are no qualifications required for a caretaking service contractor under the Act. These could be imposed by agreement but it would be very unusual.
If a resident manager lets lots they do need a licence to act as a real estate agent, but that relates only to letting. And to be fair, the question does reveal some of the many misconceptions that come with management rights. A resident manager is not a pool safety official (as one example). Duties of a building manager do not extend to the supervision of people swimming in the pool. That is what by-law and parents are for!
Have a question or something to add to the article? Leave a comment below.
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