There are 3 types of meetings that assist the Owners Corporation and Strata Committee administer your scheme, these are;
A General Meeting
General meetings of the Owners Corporation are usually called when the need arises through the year, such as approving major maintenance works or raising special levies. They may be convened by the appointed Secretary, the Strata Committee or by a written requisition of owners whose total Unit of Entitlement exceeds 25% of the total ownership in your scheme.
Strata Committee Meetings
Committee meetings are held by your strata committee to determine day to day administrative issues affecting lot owners and your scheme, such as;
Strata Legislation does not obligate the Strata Committee to convene meetings at any particular time during the year, as such committee meetings are usually held as the need arises.
Let’s face it, no one likes paying a bill, however your levy contributions shouldn’t be seen as simply another unwelcome expense. They play an essential role in assuring that your strata or community title property is not only properly maintained, but your scheme has adequate funding to fulfil its lawful obligations.
Solid financial underpinning will allow a pro-active approach to the administration of your property, so matters may be addressed as the needs arise, rather than when the funds permit. This will mean that not only will the value of your asset be retained, but will increase over time.
It will also mean easier saleability, higher rental returns and ultimately higher values when your property is sold.
Accordingly, your levies should be considered as an ‘essential investment contribution’ to the immediate and long term requirements of your scheme, not simply another annoying expense.
So, what do my levy contributions pay for?
Your levies contribute to the operating and long-term expenses of your strata or community scheme property. They are divided into two separate funds; the Administration fund for current operating costs and the Capital Works Fund for long term, large scale maintenance costs.Administration Fund
The administration fund is intended to provide adequate funds for the running costs of the shared property at your scheme, for example;
There are other types of administration expenses, many of which will depend on the facilities at your property such as caretaking services, automatic garage doors, elevators, air-conditioning plants, swimming pools, gymnasiums, shared hot water systems etc.
Capital Works Fund
The Capital Works Fund is intended for the long-term maintenance of the buildings and improvements at your property, such as replacement of common area carpet, repainting of common areas, replacement of building components or building refurbishment etc. This fund is required to accumulate over time so that the scheme has sufficient reserves to accommodate these long-term maintenance items as they arise.
How and when are levies determined?
Your levy contributions are reviewed yearly by the owners at the annual general meeting, the amount of levies you pay is determined by you and the other owners of your scheme. This determination is usually based on the budget estimates submitted with the meeting notice. It is important that you carefully review and understand these estimates before each meeting so you are fully aware what expenses your levies are being applied to at your property.
To pay your levies, click here.
One of the most confusing aspects of living or owning in a strata complex is understanding who is responsible for maintenance. This is because every building is unique, and it will often depend on elements such as;
Generally speaking, the elements of your property that fall within the cubic air-space or boundaries of your lot such as internal walls, internal doors are the lot owners’ responsibility for maintenance. Those elements that fall on the boundary of your lot, I.E. perimeter walls, floor and ceiling and the elements outside your lot such as common stairwells, common garden areas and the common property generally are the Owners Corporation’s responsibility to repair and maintain.
Before determining whether a particular item is a lot owner or Owners Corporations maintenance responsibility the following should be undertaken;
*Different rules apply to schemes registered prior to 1 July 1974
For a detailed understanding of the concepts of Understanding Strata Maintenance, please refer to the following guide.
The Strata Committee of every Owners Corporation plays an important role in the administration of their scheme. Committee members usually fulfil the duties of the committee on a voluntary basis, without expectation of fee or reward, and this requires a significant investment of their own time.
The Strata Committee is elected at each Annual General Meeting of the Owners Corporation and can consist of between 1 to 9 members. For large strata schemes (defined as containing more than 100 lots), the strata committee must comprise of at least 3 members, and for 2 lot strata schemes both lot owners are automatically elected to the committee.
Understanding the strict legal impositions that are placed on a Strata Committee by the Strata Schemes Management Act 2015 and Regulations 2016 (the Act), the Owners Corporation itself, the Strata By-laws and other legislation is paramount. This is particularly so for owners that may not have served on a committee previously or who may not be familiar with the operation of an Owners Corporation.
The following guide has been written for all owners and Strata Committee members to assist in their understanding of what the roles, duties and responsibilities of the committee are and how they relate to the operation of the Owners Corporation.
This will depend entirely on what delegated authority has been provided to the agent by the Owners Corporation. Section 52(1) of the Strata Schemes Management Act 2015 allows an Owners Corporation to delegate to an agent;
(a) all of its functions, or
(b) any one or more of its functions specified in the instrument, or
(c) all of its functions except those specified in the instrument.
At Netstrata we only take on the management of your scheme with Full Delegated authority, this means we are able to provide you and the owners within your scheme with complete management services for your scheme.
Rather than the owners or Strata Committee members having to undertake and be liable for the statutory duties of the Secretary, Treasurer and Chairperson, these functions are delegated to our office to ensure that your scheme is being managed and administered in accordance with its lawful obligations.
For a complete list of all the functions and services provided by our office to you, read the below guide.
Building managers play an essential role in many strata schemes. The delegation of duties afforded to a strata manager is very different legislatively than that of a building manager, meaning that the latter takes a more practical hands-on approach, usually around the organisation and management of works.
Building managers are usually appointed in larger or more complex sites, working alongside the strata manager and strata committee. They are required to have a building management contract in place detailing the duties that they perform for the scheme.
Depending on the size of the strata scheme, a building manager may be appointed on a part-time or full-time basis and may also facilitate any after-hours emergency work.
Typically reports are issued by a building manager on a regular basis noting any maintenance works, improvements or items actioned for the reporting period.
Often, software is utilised by building managers to communicate with owners, occupants and managing agents on various items occurring within a scheme. Some of the software programs commonly used allow occupants to report maintenance issues, order additional access devices (keys, remotes etc.), organise a move in or out of the building (to reserve the loading dock where applicable or install elevator protection equipment) and generally to communicate with building management.
When thinking of the delineation between Strata Managers and Building Managers remember;
For further information of the standard duties of a building manager (and in some cases the strata manager) please refer to the following guide.
Quite simply, Strata Building Insurance protects the Owners Corporation (Body Corporate) for damage sustained to the building as a result of an accidental or malicious act. Common examples are;
A common misapprehension is that Strata Building Insurance protects the Owners Corporation for routine maintenance items or building defects such as the repair of shower trays, settlement/movement cracks in walls and ceilings or more severe maintenance items such as concrete cancer or foundation subsidence. The easiest comparison is to think of your motor vehicle, you can insure your vehicle against having an accident, however you can not insure your vehicle for wearing out. This same principle applies to Strata Building Insurance.
How is the owner of a lot protected?
Every Owners Corporation has a statutory duty to insure ‘the building’ against accidental or malicious damage (Section 160(1), Strata Schemes Management Act 2015).
Lot space within a strata scheme (i.e. your apartment, villa, factory or townhouse) is commonly defined as;
“the cubic air-space contained within the inner surface of the boundary walls, under the surface of the ceiling and the upper surface of the floor”
Under this definition the lot owner is responsible for the repair, replacement and maintenance of all building components housed within the lot, such as;
For example, a leaking tap washer in the kitchen or a leak through a shower screen is the lot owners responsibility to repair and maintain, however by virtue of the term ‘the building’ being included in Section 160(1), many of the building components contained within the lot are protected by the mandatory Building Insurance that is taken out by the Owners Corporation.
Simply speaking these items are the lot owners responsibility for the purposes of repair, replacement and maintenance, however they are protected by the Strata Building Insurance if they are damaged by an insurable event.
Are my contents covered?
No, the contents and fittings contained within your lot ARE NOT covered by the Strata Building Insurance and are specifically excluded from the policy, items such as;
Owner-occupiers may extend cover on their contents insurance to include items not covered by Strata Building Insurance. Most major mainstream insurers in NSW are aware of the delineation between strata building insurance and contents insurance for a strata property and are happy to extend home contents insurance to include the items listed above.
Non-resident or owner investors may take out ‘Landlords Insurance’ for a sufficient sum to cover the fittings of their lot. However all owners should undertake their own inquiries with their insurer or insurance broker to ensure their contents are adequately protected by their contents policy.
To obtain an obligation free quote, click the links below;
Aside from Building Insurance, an Owners Corporation may affect other insurances to provide cover and protection to owners. A comprehensive list of these insurances is outlined below.
Government Audit Costs
Cover for Professional Fees incurred by the insured in connection with a record-keeping audit by a Government authority. Cover is on a claims made basis and the insurer will respond to claims first made against the insured during the Period of Insurance and notified in writing to the insurer during that Period of Insurance.
Legal Defence Expenses
Covers legal expenses incurred by the insured in defending actions arising in connection with the conduct of their business affairs. Cover is on a claims made basis and the insurer will respond to claims first made against the insured during the Period of Insurance and notified in writing to the insurer during that Period of Insurance.
Loss of Market Value
Covers the difference between the market value of Lots immediately prior to and following the loss/damage occurring in the event that permission to rebuild is limited/restricted under an order or regulation.
Loss of Rent/Temporary Accommodation
Provides Lot owner-occupiers and Lot owner investors with a rental equivalent for their premises in the event their Lot is rendered uninhabitable following an insured event as set out in the insurer Policy.
Lot Owners Fixtures & Improvements
Covers the cost of replacing Lot Owners Fixtures and Improvements in their Lot/Unit incurred from time to time provided that the Building Sum Insured amount is exhausted. Replacement of such installations must be following Damage by any Event that is not otherwise excluded under the building section.
Lot Owners Wall Coverings
Cover of Paint and/or wallpaper (wall coverings) internally within a lot following an insured event as set out in the insurer Policy.
Cover up to the Sum Insured shown in the Schedule against Insured Damage which occurs during the Period of Insurance and requires repair or replacement to lifts, elevators, escalators and inclinators provided they are subject to a current comprehensive maintenance agreement and all other electrical, electronic and mechanical machinery, boilers and pressure vessels and similar plant that forms part of Your Insured Property or its services and provided that the Insured Item is within Your Situation and is in the ordinary course of working at the time the Insured Damage occurs.
Office Bearers Liability
Cover for any claim first made against an Office Bearer in respect of legal liability for any claim made against them. The amount payable in respect of all Claims under this section will not exceed the Limit of Liability shown on the Schedule and is inclusive of the claimant’s costs and expenses and the Defence Costs incurred by the insurer during the currency of any one Period of Insurance. Cover is on a claims made basis and the insurer will respond to claims first made against the insured during the Period of Insurance and notified in writing to the insurer during that Period of Insurance.
Pollution Defence Costs
Provides cover for defending any criminal or regulatory proceedings in respect of any actual or alleged pollution.
Provides cover in the event that your insured property has been damaged as a result of a declared terrorist attack by either the Government or the Insurance Council of Australia (ICA).
Public Liability (Compulsory)
Indemnity up to the Limit of Liability shown in the Schedule if You become legally responsible to pay compensation for Personal Injury or Property Damage resulting from an Occurrence in connection with the ownership of Your Common Area and Your Insured Property that happens during the Period of Insurance and covers the costs of defending a claim in connection with a claim under this Policy.
Voluntary Workers (Compulsory)
A Benefit paid to a Voluntary Worker, or that person’s estate, the event of such Voluntary Worker sustaining a bodily injury during the Period of Insurance whilst voluntarily engaged in work on Your behalf and caused solely and directly by violent, accidental, external and visible means and which, independently of any other cause results in one of the insured events as set out in the insurance policy.
Workers Compensation (Compulsory, if the Owners Corporation engages employees)
The Schedule will show if You are insured for worker’s compensation for employees in the state or territory where Your Insured Property is situated. When You are covered for worker’s compensation for employees cover is provided for all amounts You become legally liable to pay to Your employees under the worker’s compensation legislation in the state or territory in which Your Insured Property is situated.
Your Owners Corporation is obliged to effect several compulsory insurance policies to protect the interests of all lot owners, residents and other stakeholders that service your Owners Corporation. There are also several optional insurances that your Owners Corporation may affect to further protect the interests of owners.
Your Owners Corporations Insurance Broker plays an important role in the renewal cycle and ongoing insurance management for your scheme. Their services include;
Strata Insurance Services is a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Netstrata Group. Unlike other insurance brokers they are completely independent and do not receive commissions from insurers and underwriters, nor do they have any incentive to promote one insurance product over another. This independence means that your Owners Corporation can be assured that they are receiving the most comprehensive and competitive cover that is available in the market.
To further understand the services provided by your insurance as well as a guide to fees, charges and complexities of Strata Insurance, see the guide below.
The keeping of animals in strata schemes is an emotive issue and laws surrounding pets in strata schemes have changed several times over the last few years.
The 1996 Strata Act, provided owners with 3 options surrounding the keeping of animals under the Strata By-laws, they were;
Section 137B of the Strata Schemes Management Act 2015 was introduced in 2021. This section outlines that no by-law can have the force or effect to unreasonably prohibit the keeping of an animal on a lot.
Despite the introduction of Section 137B, many Owners Corporations have retained their original ‘Keeping of Animals’ By-laws that seek to prohibit the keeping of animals within strata schemes.
In October 2020, the NSW Court of Appeal handed down a landmark decision in Cooper v The Owners – Strata Plan No. 58068  NSWCA 250, which effectively held that a By-law seeking to prohibit the keeping of animals was harsh, unconscionable and oppressive.
Although the legislation and courts look favourably towards residents keeping animals within strata schemes, it is still important to consult with your managing agent or strata committee before undertaking the keeping of an animal within your lot, particularly regarding the size and type of animal that is intended to be kept. Not all pets are suitable for strata living and the type of pet you desire may still be in breach of the Strata By-laws.
If you are a tenant seeking permission to keep an animal within your lot, apply here. You will also require permission from your landlord.
Strata living has many advantages, however one of the challenges is living in close proximity to other residents, particularly as almost everyone will have different standards and tolerances to day to day aggravations such as noise, parking on common property, hanging washing on balconies and children playing on common property.
Unfortunately, not all by-laws are complied with at all times. Sometimes this non-compliance is trivial and of no consequence, at other times it can cause a serious inconvenience or loss of amenity to other residents or their visitors. On occasions, it can be the cause of unnecessary expense to the Owners Corporation.
COVID-19 has not only tested many people’s resilience levels, particularly when it comes to By-law complaints, but with more people regularly working from home following the pandemic we are generally spending more time at home, as such there is more opportunity for complaints to occur.Before lodging a By-law complaint, here are 5 items that you should consider;
Should you wish to lodge a By-law complaint you may do so by completing this form.
In most instances the answer will be yes – permission must be obtained from the Owners Corporation or Strata Committee prior to undertaking an alteration or addition to your Lot. Examples include installing an air conditioner, skylight, blind, pergola or awning.
For renovations such as upgrading a kitchen or bathroom or replacing floorboards, permission to complete the renovation maybe required, particularly if waterproofing membranes or structural elements of the building are being altered.
The type of permission required will largely depend on the size and type of alteration to be made. If the alteration is relatively simple, permission may simply be granted by your Strata Manager or Strata Committee. If more complicated, however, it may require a special By-law being passed by the Owners Corporation at a general meeting.
Most strata schemes are registered with a standard By-Law titled ‘Damage to Common Property’. This By-Law prevents an owner from damaging or defacing any structure that forms part of common property, unless prior written approval from the Owners Corporation is obtained. Under the terms of the Damage to Common property by-law, all owners are at liberty to undertake the installation of security screens or locking devices to protect their property, however it is important to check if there are any architectural limitations to security screen designs and that all locking devices adhere to the building code and fire regulations. A licensed locksmith will be able to advise of such regulations.
If you are thinking of undertaking an alteration, addition or renovation to your property, you can make an application here.
In most instances, yes you will be able to connect Pay TV to your property. However Foxtel are currently the only mainstream Pay TV service suppliers that provide their service to Strata Schemes. Optus Vision has not provided their service to multi-dwelling complexes for a number of years and it does not appear that they will be providing their service in the near future.
In order to have Foxtel connected, permission from the Owners Corporation will need to be obtained prior to undertaking the connection.
The type of connection to your property will vary depending on whether you reside in a townhouse/villa complex or unit complex and whether you are within a cable or satellite area. A cable connection can usually be facilitated quite easily and with little to no expense, as such the following critiques pertain to satellite subscriptions.
The cleaners and gardeners engaged by your Owners Corporation to service your strata scheme must follow a strict specification of duties when servicing your strata property.
This specification has been compiled to ensure your property is maintained to the highest possible standard, see below. This specification may be adjusted to suit the specific needs of your property.
The frequency of the services is determined by you and the other owners within your scheme. This will largely depend on the size, design & style of your property and the annual budget allowance for the same, however a weekly or fortnightly schedule is usually sufficient.
In the event the Owners Corporation are not satisfied by the performance being provided by the cleaning and gardening contractors, their services can usually be terminated at any time and alternative contractors engaged.
Yes, all owners are at liberty to gain access to the books and records of the Owners Corporation. At Netstrata we have invested in the necessary technologies to allow owners access to all the pertinent records of the Owners Corporation via our online portal. Here you will be able to gain access to:
To find out more about what is available at your online portal, or to access the online portal for your scheme, click the links below.
For a more thorough investigation of the books and records of your scheme owners are at liberty to conduct a ‘Strata Search’ pursuant to Section 182 of the Strata Schemes Management Act 2015. The request for such a search must be made in writing and be accompanied by the prescribed fee. The search is usually undertaken independently by a qualified inspector.
Your Strata Manager should always be the first point of contact if an emergency repair is required to the common areas of your strata or community association property, so appropriate tradespeople may be engaged to complete necessary maintenance works.
In the event the repairs are required on the weekends or after normal business hours, access to emergency tradespeople is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week by calling 1300 663 760.
Requesting an additional swipe tag, key or remote for your lot is easy. Simply complete the Access Device Application form. Your application will be processed in accordance with the By-laws and any security limitations that may apply to your scheme.
Tenants please note: You will require permission from your landlord or property manager before acquiring an additional swipe tag or key.
Depending on the size and services available at your scheme, it may be necessary to book access to Lifts or other common amenities to facilitate the transfer of your furniture either in or out of your property. This will allow your removalists easy access through the common property and will also allow the Owners Corporation to arrange the installation of lift blankets or other safety devices.
To book a moving in or moving out date, simply complete this form.
The Strata Schemes Management Act 2015 requires the notice of every Annual General Meeting of the Owners Corporation to be accompanied by a copy of the last financial statements. The notice of the Annual General Meeting must be supplied to all owners within the Scheme.
The Property and Stock Agents Act 2002 obligates all Strata Managing Agents to furnish the Owners Corporation with financial reports every 6 months.
At Netstrata all owners are able to access real time financial reports for both the Owners Corporation and your lot via your owner portal, on the portal you will be able to download;
You can access your owner portal here.
It is often said that prevention is better than cure and this sentiment is no more relevant then when it comes to building maintenance. Having planned scheduled maintenance will prolong the running life and efficiencies of appliances, reduce electricity costs, avoid costly and inconvenient breakdowns of vital plant and equipment and increase the overall living experience of residents at your property.
Legislation requires that certain appliances in your scheme be placed on a routine or scheduled maintenance program, these include;
However, there are many other appliances and apparatus in your scheme that would benefit from being placed on a preventative maintenance program, including;
Other maintenance programs for your scheme could include;
A Building Management Committee is an overarching administrative structure that is put into place to assist in the management of strata developments that have shared facilities across a number of different strata schemes. This usually occurs when a mixed-use type development contains one or a number of residential strata schemes, retail schemes and commercial schemes.
Shared facilities can include items such as:
The Building Management Committee is made up from representatives from each strata scheme and is responsible for the management and administration of the shared facilities. A Strata Management Statement (SMS) will be registered with the development that outlines how the BMC is to be managed and will provide a breakdown of the shared facilities as well as percentages of the contributions that each strata scheme or stratum lot owner will contribute to the expenses of maintaining and running the shared facilities.
For a comprehensive understanding of Building Management Committees, see our guide below.