Tag Archives: strata management

When there is not a Lot in Common

When you buy into a strata building you are, in fact, purchasing a ‘lot.’ Think of your lot as your own, small component of the larger strata plan. Typically, a lot will comprise an apartment or commercial suite and, where applicable, parking spaces and/or an outdoor area of some description.

Everything outside your lot is Common property. From your external walls to the hallway outside your front door to the courtyard and driveway, the Common areas are those that all residents and occupants have equal access to. And when you think of strata services, they typically apply to the Common areas as opposed to individual lots.

In general, owners are solely responsible for the upkeep and maintenance of their own individual lots. In the case of new buildings – where building or appliance warranties are often concerned – strata management companies may deal with individual lot owners, but by and large owners are responsible for their own individual lots. When it comes to dealing with major strata management matters, your Owners Corporation will represent you.

The Owners Corporation is the body that owners are automatically admitted to upon purchasing a lot in a strata plan. Being an owner entitles you to a share in the Owners Corporation and, therefore, a say in everything from determining your preferred provider of strata management services to who gets to use the visitor parking.

The Owners Corporation – or Body Corporate as it is more commonly known – has five key areas of responsibility.

  1. Strata Plan Insurance
  2. Maintenance of the Building and Common property
  3. Financing the Strata Plan
  4. Maintenance of the Strata By-laws
  5. Record keeping

And, therefore, it is perfectly correct that when people think of strata management they tend to think of who it is that provides for the care of the Common areas. The strata manager appoints the cleaners responsible for maintaining your courtyards and hallways. And the strata manager is the one who arranges repairs to Common property. Importantly, the strata manager also arranges insurance for the building. However, owners should note that the strata insurance does not cover their individual lot and that home and contents insurance is highly recommended.

An established provider of strata services in Sydney, Wollongong and Newcastle, Netstrata has been managing strata plans for over 18 years.

Is your Owners Corporation hounding you unfairly?

Australia boasts the highest incidence of pet ownership in the world. Pets may be found in over two thirds of Australian homes. And with one in five Australians living in a strata scheme of one form or another, the issue of pets and strata plans is not one that is going away any time soon.

Now, what rights you, as an owner or a tenant, have vis-à-vis your pet depends entirely on the strata plan in effect at your place of residence.

Strata managers have a few options when it comes to deciding what By-laws will govern a strata plan. They can either draw up their own or rely on the pre-existing Schedule 1 By-laws (for schemes registered prior to 1 July 1997) or the Model By-laws (for schemes registered on or after 1 July 1997.) It should be noted here that the Owners Corporation has the authority to amend the Schedule 1 and Model By-laws.

As far as pet ownership goes, in general the approval of the Owners Corporation cannot be unreasonably withheld. As for the particular By-laws, Schedule 1 is clear: A resident or tenant needs the prior written consent of the Owners Corporation. The Model By-laws are slightly more complicated and give strata managers three options for dealing with the issue of pet ownership. Approval for pet occupancy may be granted in a manner consistent with the provisions of the Schedule 1 By-laws; approval may be granted providing certain conditions are met, such as the resident’s undertaking to carry the pet across common areas, or the resident’s request may be denied.

If you intend to rent in a strata plan, you will typically require two separate approvals. The onus is on the renter to obtain approval from the leasing agent and the Owners Corporation prior to occupancy.

In the event that the Owners Corporation denies a reasonable request, residents have a few avenues in which to pursue resolution. The first port of call should be an informal discussion with a representative of the Owners Corporation. Failing that, a resident may seek to take the matter to mediation, adjudication or the Consumer, Trader and Tenancy Tribunal.

One thing that residents should bear in mind is that a strata manager is, in general, not in a position to affect outcomes in these areas. Although strata management does involve deciding the By-laws that will apply to a particular strata plan, the authority to amend those By-laws is vested in the Owners Corporation.

For more information regarding Pets and Strata Management please refer to this document produced by the Law Society of New South Wales.

The Strata Managers Role in Owners Corporation Finances

One of the basic responsibilities of an owners corporation is to raise and manage fees and to Keep track of its finances. A strata manager has an important role in assisting the owners corporation to budget for their expenses, levy contributions, collecting levies, spending the funds in an authorised way and accounting to the general meeting each year on finances.

  1. Budgeting correctly for contributions to the administrative and sinking funds;
  2. Accurately levying contributions to the administrative fund and sinking fund;
  3. Collecting unpaid levies efficiently;
  4. Expending funds only on authorised expenses; and
  5. Preparing financial statements.

Thank you TEYS Lawyers for this Training Note

Netstrata appointed to 60-68 City Road

Netstrata are proud to announce that they have recently won the tender for the strata management of 60-68 City Road, Chippendale located opposite Sydney University.

The scheme is about to commence major capital works and Netstrata looks forward to working with the committee to ensure that the works are undertaken as effectively as possible. The scheme will be managed by Mr Stephen Ong being involved with the strata management industry for many years and also being a building engineer.

Contact us  today for other strata management opportunities in Sydney.

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Selling a strata or community property

Sydney from above
Sydney the Place to Be

Selling?  10 Tips you’ve never heard of to improve your Sale!

At one point or another, most owners of a Strata or Community Title Property will consider selling their home or investment. Your sales agent will generally run you through the DO’s and DON’Ts of preparing the property for the market, however there are many other small, but significant steps you can take through the effective use of your scheme’s records that can be extremely beneficial in achieving a quick and efficient sale, as well as achieving the best possible price for your property, particularly in a tough and competitive market.

1.    Contract Information

You can obtain much of the pertinent information that your solicitor or conveyancer will need to prepare your sales contract by utilizing the WEBlink services at our website www.netstrata.com.au. Here you will be able to obtain;

  • A copy of the Insurance Certificate for your scheme
  • A copy of the Insurance Valuation for your scheme
  • A copy of the Strata/Community Plan for your scheme
  • A copy of the current By-laws for your scheme

These documents will provide useful and important information your solicitor can include in your contract that will assist the inquiries of prospective purchasers.  They should also save you a few $$$ in the costs of preparing your sales contract!

2.    Size Matters!

Your Strata or Community Plan will provide the accurate sizes of your lot. And for strata owners this will include the internal areas, balconies, courtyards, and garage/parking areas for inclusion in sales brochures to prospective purchases.

3.    Features

Be sure to share all the useful features of your scheme to your sales agent, particularly items that will boost the saleability of your lot. Useful ‘strata’ and ‘community’ questions to answer include;

  • Is the scheme Pay TV/Digital TV ready?
  • Is high speed broadband internet available?
  • Is there a Gym, Pool, Spa, Sauna at the scheme?
  • What are the common security features?
  • What are the local conveniences, e.g. bus/rail stops, shops, schools, child minding facilities, etc

4.    The By-laws

The By-laws that are in place for a scheme can have a significant impact on the lifestyle choices for residents and a purchaser’s willingness to buy.  Important questions to inform your sales agent include;

  • Are pets allowed at the scheme? And if so what type?
  • Can air-conditioning units be installed?
  • Are there exclusive use By-laws in place for your lot?
  • What is the scheme’s attitude to alterations, additions and improvements?

5.    Maintenance Costs

All prudent purchases will want to know not only the current the running costs of the property, such as your current levies, council rates and water rates, however what the expected future running costs of the property will be. If your scheme has undertaken improvements to the common property such as a major renovation or implementing an energy audit, installation of solar panels or rainwater tanks, be sure to inform your agent of the proposed benefits to the scheme.

6.    The Schemes Records

The information you provide during the marketing process will attract purchasers to your property, however those that are serious will want to undertake a complete inspection of the records of the scheme.  These reports are usually prepared by professional searchers who know where to look for the detailed information relating to your lot, so unfortunately there’s no place to hide.

These searches can often make or break a sale, particularly if your scheme has had a history of defects or disputes. If your scheme has a few skeletons in the closet, don’t worry. By forewarning your sales agent or solicitor of any potential problems you can provide them with the significant information that is necessary to address any concerns.

7.    RP Data Reports

Setting the correct price is imperative during the marketing process.  Too high and you’ll scare off many prospects, too low could cost you thousands. The RP Data reports provided via WEBlink will provide the recent sales results for strata and community title properties in your area and often your scheme.  These are the best indicators of the current state of the market and provide you with further independent advice of the appropriate price to list your property for sale or auction.

8.    Sales / Auction Signs

No doubt your sales agent will want to erect a sign on the common property advertising your lot for sale. Here it’s important to ascertain your scheme’s attitude towards the erection of signs on common property because permission will be required. If your agent unwittingly erects a sign without permission, you may be up for the costs of not only installing the sign, but having it removed and repairing the damage to common property.

9.    Knowledge is Power!

NSW Fair Trading produces a range of useful and informative guides to assist prospective purchases. These include; ‘Buying into a Strata or Community Scheme’ and ‘Strata and Community Title Living’. These guides are offered free from Fair Trading, so have your sales agent obtain a few copies for distribution to prospective purchasers. See our useful links page.

10.  The Netstrata Difference

Whilst we are experts in Strata Management in Sydney, we’ll never pretend to be sales agents, however if you ever need any assistance with obtaining the important information to assist you during your sales and marketing process or if you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact our office.

Forbes Richest Man & Netstrata

Netstrata’s Business Development Manager Jeremy Stone attended a luncheon at Doltone House Pyrmont today to hear some insightful comments on the world economy from the world’s richest man Carlos Slim Helu who is in Sydney for the 2010 Forbes Global CEO Conference. Jeremy Stone said “it was amazing to see how down to earth Carlos was happily posing for photos and donning his Akubra hat which was his gift for his attendance”.

Carlos

Ronald McDonald House Charities

Netstrata is proud to be involved with the Ronald McDonald House Charities with our strata managers and support team making a monthly donation to this fantastic cause. Netstrata received a thank you letter today from Malcolm Coutts CEO of Ronald McDonald House Charities Australia along with the Annual Report for the last financial year. Netstrata’s contribution assisted in providing accommodation for over 6000 families last year whilst their seriously ill children were receiving treatment in hospital.

Netstrata is proud to be part of the RMHC Family, for anybody wishing to find out more about the charity please visit their website at www.rmhc.org.au.

Continual professional development

The strata management team at Netstrata undertook an extensive training program last Friday in their Sydney Offices where they were joined by the Institute of Strata Title Managements Richard Holloway.

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As strata management is a dynamic sector continually being effected by legislative changes and different rulings it is paramount to stay up to date with the changes and how it effects our client schemes. During the course we looked at Court Cases making a difference to the sector, debt recovery, building defects and works to owners lots. The floor was also opened to some general question and answers which enabled some positive discussions. All in all a fantastic course and very beneficial.