Managing your strata property is as important as acquiring it in the first place. Strata schemes that record tremendous success have a history of skilful management. However, many lot owners do not fully understand the management role in a strata setup.
While there are role similarities between strata management, property management and building management positions, it is essential to understand the role of a strata manager in maintaining your unit, responding to emergencies, and what they are not required to do under the law. Read on as we explain strata management in an understandable format.
What is Strata Management?
Several sources have interpreted the strata management definition to reflect its true function in the strata space. According to the Strata Management Act 2015 in NSW, a strata manager is a person who executes various functions of an owners corporation for a defined reward. A strata manager is responsible for a group of units or blocks of jointly-owned real estate properties. The manager, via instructions from the owners corporation, ensures the building complies with all state laws, is insured, has updated administrative protocols, and is well maintained.
What is a Strata Manager, and what do they do?
A strata manager is the person in charge of the strata scheme’s daily operations, including the building complex and the common areas. The success of a scheme requires the careful establishment of a management unit by the owners’ corporation. In a scheme, lot owners may appoint a strata manager to work with the executive committee and the corporation to seamlessly control, manage, maintain, and administer the estate to provide a conducive strata living environment.
What are the specific duties and responsibilities of a strata manager?
A strata manager oversees the scheme’s operations, and the strata property ownership gives them their mandate. The owners can opt for one or more managers depending on the property’s size and complexity.
Strata managers put systems and structures in place to back up their industry experience for the smooth running of strata. All the measures and experiences place them at an advantage to better run to the scheme than the individual unit owners.
The owners corporation establishes a contractual relationship with the strata manager with a clear set of duties and responsibilities for each party. Since a strata manager is responsible for multiple properties owned by different people, it would be virtually impossible for each one to highlight what they would want the manager to do for them. This is why the strata manager responsibilities need to be clearly outlined to the owners to avoid confusion, shifting blame, or disputes.
These managers offer general advice on property management and, depending upon the contract, may be charged with the below duties and responsibilities:
General property maintenance: Strata management is an evolving role involving working towards and maintaining a comfortable stay for strata residents. In many cases, owners find it challenging to differentiate between the common and individual property. This sometimes makes it difficult to allocate maintenance responsibilities. The strata manager, by referring to the building’s strata plan, can provide clarity here.
The strata manager collects quotes for various repair works, and with the owners corporation approval, he or she contracts gardeners, cleaners, and builders to maintain the common areas. The managers are the first point of contact when repairs arise. Depending on the contract and instructions given by the owners corporation, a strata manager can approve minor repairs and maintenance decisions without the scheme council’s prior approval.
Update and maintenance of scheme records: While the owners corporation is the right custodian of the scheme’s records, most corporations delegate this responsibility to strata managers. The Strata Schemes Management Act 2015 (NSW) Sec 180 directs strata projects to maintain the records below for a minimum of seven years:
- Notices of all owners meetings.
- All correspondences sent or received by the scheme.
- Records submitted to the corporation by the strata manager.
- Proxies delivered to the strata committee. The seven-year period will start at the expiry of the proxy.
- Minutes of corporation’s meetings, motions, and agendas discussed and passed.
- A contractual agreement between the strata manager and the corporation.
- Motions’ voting papers along with an election resolution of the strata committee.
Papers relating to secret votes, strata renewal committee or other decisions related to Part 10 of the Strata Schemes Act must be retained for at least 13 months if the vote was electronic.
A lot owner or mortgagee of the scheme who wishes to access the above documents can be granted access as long as they pay a prescribed access fee. Fees vary state to state.
Financial management: Like any other business sector, the strata property space maintains financial records including tax returns, utility payments, salaries and wages, and more. These financial obligations are related to individual units and common property. The owners corporation allocates funds to such activities under the administrative fund and the capital works or sinking fund. The capital works fund finances future capital expenditures while the administrative fund takes care of the scheme’s day-to-day running.
The strata manager prepares and submits a budget to the executive committee for review and approval. The management also makes certain that outstanding bills and debts are taken care of including insurance premiums and levies, respectively.
Setting and administering an owners corporation’s meetings and correspondences: A scheme’s manager is responsible for communicating with the corporation on several matters including levy collection, property insurance, maintenance of all the common areas, and notices for members’ meetings.
The manager may also be responsible for handling insurance matters from sourcing suitable covers to paying premiums and filing claims. They are also the custodians of all the resulting documents.
On some occasions, the strata manager can chair the strata’s general meetings. He or she can also be asked to submit minutes of appointments to the executive corporation’s committee.
- Information dissemination and interpersonal relations: A strata manager should ensure harmony is maintained among the corporation’s members. They may perform the following tasks:
- Communicate the rules and regulations that promote peaceful strata living and where necessary, assist in amending the laws to suit current circumstances. However, the manager must prove that the changes are not unreasonable, comply with legislation and law and are being made for the good of the strata community.
- Resolve disputes and fairly mediate between owners. They may assist by offering solutions to ensure harmony is maintained.
- Plan and organize social happenings in the strata community, including social gatherings and gather feedback on ways to improve the residents’ living standards.
Apart from these, the strata manager may schedule executive committee meetings and annual general meetings.
Ensure safety compliance: Australian strata laws apply to all strata complexes regardless of the size, location, and use. Owners must comply with the set laws and regulations relating to lifts, fire safety, parking and shared spaces regulations. Strata managers ensure that all community areas comply with their respective laws and regulations at all times.
Together with the committee, the strata management should ensure that all facilities are functioning properly.
Custodian of the strata roll: The strata manager is expected to keep custody of the strata roll after being prepared by the owners corporation. A roll contains information about the scheme and will feature:
- Name of a property owner, address, email and phone number
- Name of a tenant, address, email and phone number
Strata management records plan numbers for strata projects, by-laws, building location, original owners and their addresses, and the total unit entitlements.
What doesn’t a strata manager do?
As much as they perform a lot of pivotal roles, some things that are outside the scope of a strata manager’s job description.
Most importantly, they cannot offer legal advice but only suggestions based on past experiences. And where a legal opinion is required, a good manager will know when to seek legal advice.