Rock Solid Ethics Essential To Group Living Management

Strata companies are created automatically on registration of the strata/strata-survey plan when titles are issued. Subsequently, councils are elected by lot owners to protect their properties and to ensure the smooth running and operation of facilities and common areas. Most councils, especially in very large building complexes, delegate their duties to strata managers who have the organisational and administrative skills needed to be effective in this role.

Personal Attributes High on Recruiters’ Lists

In any occupation there is both a legal and moral requirement for an incumbent to act in the best interests of the role and the employer. Strata managers are no exception, and for this reason, recruiting the right people to look after our clients is a vital part of our role as a strata management company.

WA Strata Management has a structured recruitment process that enables us to have absolute confidence that our staff will do the right thing by the councils we support. This is a demanding role, and the people we choose must have a range of crucial skills and personal attributes to be selected.

Honesty and Integrity as Important as Skills and Knowledge

They must have a thorough and up-to-date knowledge of the legislation governing strata schemes, and especially of the specific duties that are assigned to a specialist strata manager. With much of the role being administrative, they must also have business experience with a strong focus on effective communication skills. While we emphasise these skills in making our staffing choices, we also look for evidence of integrity, honesty and reliability in candidates.

Strata Managers Must be Honest

The strata manager role is sometimes one of conflicting priorities, and we need people who can make sound business decisions based on merit. Those decisions involve considerable amounts of money when negotiating service contracts, securing quotes for repairs or getting the best value for money when renewing insurances and other contracts.

There can be no suggestion, for example, of a strata manager receiving rewards from a supplier or contractor in exchange for favourable treatment. Agreed financial procedures must be followed for receipting and accounting for money received on behalf of the council.

Honesty also Includes Ethical Conduct

The question of honesty is not confined to monetary concerns. They also cannot become involved in any request by an individual lot owner that runs contrary to the management agreement. While they can use diplomacy to smooth any ruffled feathers, they must be scrupulous in their efforts to act only under the instructions given by the council.

This is a very challenging role but one that can also be very satisfying. We employ only the most suitable people to keep faith with our responsibilities to our clients.

Large Apartment Buildings Function Better Under Professional Management

Living in a strata scheme is the type of accommodation arrangement that is becoming increasingly attractive to Australians, especially younger people who are busy with careers and other pursuits. However, the key to enjoying unit or apartment living is occupying a building complex that is well-managed, with clear rules for the use of common areas.

Group Living Creates Many Benefits for Residents

There are a great many positives attached to these types of properties, both from a lifestyle point of view for residents and also as part of an investment portfolio. Residents experience a heightened sense of security being surrounded by other people and they can enjoy the facilities without having to physically do any of the work. Investors enjoy the financial returns while leaving all the administration to someone else.

Professional Expertise Needed for Smoothly Run Schemes

The key to unlocking all the great things about strata living, as already mentioned, is first-class management. Properties that are not well-managed are rife with issues that create disharmony. They are prone to disputes between residents that can only be resolved with outside mediation. The council or body corporate may be in conflict and financial decision-making is poor.

This is never the situation when WA Strata Management is engaged by client councils to assist them with the running of their facilities. Each building complex has its own unique set of challenges so managing such a facility is not a “one-size-fits-all” proposition. When we help clients develop their strata scheme management plan, we design it to suit that particular building and that particular council.

Inexperience and Lack of Knowledge Causes Major Problems

Some councils, typically in situations where many of the members are on-site residents, try to cut costs by running their scheme themselves, without the benefit of professional and independent expertise. Others use inexperienced managers just starting out in the industry. Either way, lack of knowledge of the relevant legislation leads to problems in keeping proper financial and administration records. We are often called in to these situations to sort out the problems and put in place professional people who know how to run an apartment complex.

Accurate Record Keeping and Reporting Best Left to Professionals

A properly functioning strata scheme has administration systems that keep accurate financial records, and provide reports on expenditure and income as and when required to council meetings and the relevant authorities. In the case of our staff, they are trained to know the legislative requirements, including changes that affect their operations.

The benefits of professional management far outweigh the associated costs. The lot owners are still in control as the people they engage can only exercise the responsibilities that have been delegated to them by the council. This allows the lot owners the freedom to enjoy their properties, without any of the associated day-to-day operational problems and responsibilities.

Buying Strata? Don’T Be Afraid To Ask Questions

It is often said that the best way to get the right answer is to ask the right question, and while this may seem to be self-evident, it is not as quite that simple. Asking the right questions requires the questioner to have a reasonable level of knowledge about the subject matter. When the subject is strata laws, and the questioner is a potential buyer looking at an apartment or unit, it helps to have someone who knows what questions to ask.

There is Much Purchasers Need to Know when Buying an Apartment

This is usually the sales representative who is taking the buyer through the property. In the same way that a buyer would want to know about an easement affecting a free-standing house they were inspecting, so too should an apartment buyer know how the building is managed and how that may affect their decision to buy.

We often see buyers inspecting units in some of the buildings under our management, and hope they are asking questions of their sales representative. Our company, WA Strata Management, provides qualified strata management professionals who perform a range of services for individual building Councils. Most building complexes these days are too large and complex to be run by the unit owners themselves, so they engage our services.

Seller Required by Law to Provide Certain Information

There are many issues that buyers should be aware of before they purchase into a strata scheme. Thankfully, the seller is required by law to disclose certain things before any contracts are signed. They must provide a copy of the strata plan highlighting issues affecting the lot being purchased, the unit entitlements and a copy of any bylaws that deviate from the standard bylaws.

Unregistered Plans Require Even More Disclosures

If the plan has not yet been registered, the buyer must receive additional information. Details of pending service agreements and their costs, the proposed budget covering the first twelve months and the estimated proposed levies payable by the purchaser are essential pieces of information for someone about to make a huge purchase.

Failure to Disclose Can Void a Contract of Sale

Details of any leases, licences, exclusive use or privileges that have been granted over common property must also be released to a potential purchaser. These are important because they could affect the way in which the common property is used. What is equally important is that if these disclosures are not made by the seller in a specified timeframe, the purchaser can legally void the contract.

Ask Lots of Questions or Buyer Beware

This is just the beginning of the education for someone who has no knowledge of strata law but wants to buy an apartment. There are many more issues that need to be explored before signing contracts, so our advice to a purchaser is to access the information available and ask many more questions.

Strata Management Service – Increases Property Values

Since the beginning of human civilisation, property ownership has always offered safety and security. Whether the dwelling was as humble as a mud hut or something larger inhabited by the wealthy, a place to live was essential to survival. It provided storage for possessions, a safe place to sleep and eat, away from predators and somewhere to raise a family.

While our dwellings have become much more complex and sophisticated over the centuries, the attitude of owners about their property has not changed. These days, they also want the property to increase in value over time, and this requires ongoing attention and action to protect it.

Group Living Allows for Cost Sharing of Essential Expenses

In group living situations, such as those managed by WA Strata Management, the responsibility for the cost of this protection is shared by all owners. When we manage a strata scheme we ensure that essentials such as insurance, security and maintenance have been budgeted for, but for those people living in a complex where the Council is self-managing, owners should check if this is happening to protect their investment.

Insurance a Priority to Protect Owners’ Investments

State legislation sets out the requirements for insuring a multi-occupier scheme. The strata company (or body corporate) must take out building insurance for all buildings on the land to their replacement value, and also public liability insurance for the common areas (unless there is a valid exemption). They must also take out any other applicable insurance, such as workers compensation, as required by law. Contents insurance is the responsibility of the individual lot owners.

Security Another Essential

Security is another area where the body corporate has a responsibility to lot owners. The provision of security barriers, fences, entrance and exit gates, secure vehicle accommodation, alarm systems and such is expected in a multi-unit complex. These provide additional protection and could include fire safetyequipment as required by law.

Regular Building Maintenance a Must

Every building requires regular maintenance if it is to remain in peak condition, and this is also a body corporate responsibility. Maintenance includes any fixtures and fittings attached to the common property. When funds are not set aside for maintenance, facilities like pools, outdoor areas, lawns and gardens soon become dirty and untidy. Structural issues like leaking roofs need attention immediately if the integrity of the building is to be protected.

A multi-owner building is no different from a freehold home and any steps that an owner would take to protect a free-standing property should be taken for a unit or apartment. The complexities associated with managing multi-owner properties, including the financial responsibilities of handling large amounts of owner contributions, are best left to professional management companies such as ours.

Want To Keep A Pet In Shared Accommodation? Read On!

In Australia in 2016, more people than ever before are living close together in apartment buildings, units and duplexes. Having neighbours in close proximity is great for security and cost sharing, but it can be difficult if some of them are uncaring about how their actions impact on others. Building bylaws seek to control these behaviours including the keeping of pets in group-living situations. Some buildings will allow them, but many will not.

Doing Things the Right Way

Our strata managers have seen this from both sides. WA Strata Management has many years of experience at managing these situations, so we can offer advice for pet owners wishing to secure permission from strata councils to keep pets. The old saying that there is a right way and a wrong way to go about everything is very applicable to what can become an emotional issue.

Seek Permission Before Signing Anything

The right way is to seek permission to keep pets before signing any lease or contract of sale. Do this in writing and keep records in case of a dispute. Give all the details about the pet so a council can make an informed decision. Describe the pet including its size, age, appearance and temperament. Its temperament will be the main issue, as we find this to be the source of many complaints.

Provide Evidence of Responsible Pet Ownership

Mention indicators of responsible pet ownership such as certificates for vaccination, de-sexing and micro-chipping, as well as pet registration from local authorities. If you have previously kept your pet in rental properties, especially group schemes, get references from those locations and include them in the application.

Is Owner Behaviour an Issue? You Bet!

Now let’s talk about your behaviour. We have seen many situations where the pet is not the problem, but the owner. If your pet soils the common areas, pick up after it and clean up the residue. Get prompt professional attention for a flea problem. Don’t wait for the little blighters to infest adjacent areas. Keep your pet and their bedding clean and odour free, and if you leave food and water bowls outside on a balcony, wash them every day to keep away flies and cockroaches.

How Does the Pet Feel About Group Living?

Understand there are some animals that, for their psychological well-being, should not be confined. Keeping a hyperactive breed of dog in an apartment will always be a problem. Often, size is not the issue, as a greyhound, for example, will lie quietly all day provided it is regularly walked. It is more a question, as we mentioned earlier, of temperament.

While dogs and cats are still the most popular pets we keep here in Australia, people looking for easy-care pets are also choosing fish, birds and increasingly, reptiles. It really is a matter of caring about the comfort of your neighbours as much as you care for your pets.

Confusion Reigns – Every State Does Its Own Thing

Strata schemes are common throughout Australia and although the concept of group title is universal, the legislation underpinning its operation differs in each state. The development of strata law began as an ad hoc response to growing urbanisation; initially; it was managed through existing legislation, an approach that was not particularly effective. The first specific legislation occurred in Victoria and it was called the Transfer of Land (Stratum Estates) Act 1960.

Different States, Different Laws, Different Terminology

Although WA Strata Management operates in Western Australia, we are interested in the history of our industry, not only here but throughout the country. Because the laws for registering and managing group living arrangements are not uniform, this has created confusion over the years. This is especially true for people who move interstate to live in group accommodation, or apply to work for companies such as ours, and hope to use their existing knowledge.

Even the terminology differs from state to state. For example, the group entity itself is known as the Body Corporate in Queensland, Victoria and Tasmania. In New South Wales and the ACT it is called the Owners Corporation. South Australia uses the name Strata Corporation, the Northern Territory calls it the Management Corporation, and we use the term Strata Company. The word “by-laws” is the only term every state has in common.

Each State has its Own Approach

It is the same with the different pieces of legislation. Each state names them differently and in many cases, the individual laws that govern leasehold properties are different from those governing freehold properties. Queensland’s approach was unique as, rather than having multiple laws, they enacted an overarching Act under which sat a number of regulations. These were specific to different situations to give the flexibility to suit multiple needs. Tasmania has kept it simple with just one Act.

If the legislation enacted by the various states is different, then the actual processes for the registration and management of group living arrangements must also differ from state to state. There will be some similarities, but there will also be significant differences.

Explaining to an owner new to Western Australia that we don’t do things exactly as they did in Queensland or Victoria or Tasmania can be a little tricky for organisations like ours. It often falls to our staff with their industry knowledge and training to smooth the waters and acquaint people with the law as it is applied here.

Are Nationally Uniform Laws Possible?

There has been some discussion between the states over the years about making the laws uniform throughout the country. This was achieved recently with occupation health and safety laws. However, whether this is possible in our industry remains to be seen. The New South Wales government is reforming their laws with draft bills released for comment in mid-2015.

Whatever the outcome, we can assure our clients that WA Strata Management will always be up-to-date with legislation so their property and interests are in good hands.

Stress Less: Ways Of Managing Finance And Maintenance Of A Strata Company

Depending on the size of the Strata Company that you are looking after you may find that you will need to employ some new management techniques to keep up with the workload, or delegate out to a relevant party. When Strata Schemes become too complex often it may prove to be the best idea to find a good strata manager who can take over and handle the day to day running of the business. A great strata manager such as WA Strata Management will tailor a management program specifically to your business to ensure that you are getting the best for your company.

Find a Good Strata Manager

If you decide that the task of managing your Strata company yourself is going to prove to be too much for you to handle, then you are ahead of the person who keeps on pretending that they can do the job, while it all tumbles down around their ears. Acknowledging that you need help is the first step to getting on the right track. The second step is to find someone with a proven track record that you can trust with the job. A great strata management company such as WA Strata Management will be evident by their professionalism so pay attention to the details, as these are important indicators for the way they will manage your business.

Efficient Record Keeping

Another way of reducing the stress of Strata Management is through adequate record keeping, to ensure that everything you need is available to you when you need to access it. Paperwork is one area where many people encounter problems with their Strata Management and find themselves under stress that could have been avoided. Using an online file sharing program can help with keeping paperwork in one place especially if there is a large number of parties that will need to access the information.

Managing Meetings

Managing a strata company that has many different parties means that some may be able to make it to all meetings. Meetings will need to follow a clear plan of what they are aiming to achieve and will require excellent minute keeping, to ensure that everything is attended to, and that everyone is kept in the loop. One way of doing this is to video the meetings so that even owners who are overseas will be able to receive adequate information about what is happening with the company.

Operational Management Of Legal Entities

With the changing face of business and an uncertain business environment during recent years, there is an increased need for businesses to address operational management of legal entities. There is a focus on businesses needing to simplify compliance, reduce risks, improve transparency and find ways of saving costs and improving outcomes. Strata Management companies such as WA Strata Management have identified that an important factor in the supervision of legal entities is through simplifying processes of management of legal entities. Following a step by step process provides a framework for businesses to implement these new strategies and greatly improve operational administration of legal entities.

Review Existing Legal Entity Structure

Before any changes can be implemented it is important to get a clear idea about where the business is at in terms of its legal entity management. Reviewing the existing legal entity structure will provide a clear view of the whole picture, including where the business needs to go.

Isolate Areas for Immediate Success

As well as identifying areas for improvement, an important part of the process is to identify and isolate areas where there can be immediate successes and wins for the business. Once identified, these prospective successes need to be carried out immediately and made to happen accordingly.

Plan and Reorganise

The next step in the process is to create a plan for reorganisation of the running of legal entities, and make the appropriate changes where needed. WA Strata Management sees that having a clear plan is a crucial stage in ensuring success during the process as the reorganisation is underway to ensure success.

Manage Structure

The structure of the legal entity management organisation needs to be managed proactively and adjustments made according to what is needed as the process evolves. Over time, there may need to be changes made to the structure so there should to be a continual supervision of what is needed and adjustments made accordingly.

Define Processes for Ongoing Management

As a part of the operational management of legal entities, there needs to be clearly defined processes for ongoing entity management. These processes need to include the creation of legal entities and procedures for eliminating them as needed.

Revisit and Revise

In critical times during the process it is important to revisit and revise the operational management of legal entities, especially during critical times such as the acquisition or a divestment.

Want A Greater Say In How Your Property Is Run?

Whether you are a first home buyer or an experienced property investor with a substantial portfolio, the decision to purchase any type of real estate is an important one involving considerable sums of money. It seems logical then, that someone looking for a property would take great care to investigate all the various ways to go about choosing the ideal type and location.

Property Hunters Spoilt for Choice

Along with all the other decisions to be made, it is often at this point that house hunters realise just how fortunate they are to have such a huge range of options available to them. Not only are there many different styles and sizes of property, there are also options around how titles are held and, in the case of multiple-lot dwellings, how they are managed. Having all these choices presents home buyers with a great deal of control in these situations. There is something for every taste, so that settling for something unsuitable is not necessary.

Lot Owners in Multi-Lot Dwellings have Decision-Making Powers

Buying into a strata scheme has an additional layer of control as it offers owners input into important decisions through their unique position as members of the strata company. They attain this position automatically by buying a lot, or a unit in the complex. Owners have voting rights at regularly scheduled meetings and may also be voted by other owners to serve on the proprietors’ committee or as it is also known, the owners’ council.

Some owners in small schemes choose to manage the administration themselves. However, it is becoming increasingly common, especially in large schemes, for the owners’ council to appoint a professional company to look after the management of the complex on their behalf. WA Strata Management is one such company, and with years of experience and a fully trained, professional team of strata managers at your service, we can handle all the details of daily management.

Burden of Administration can be delegated

We have up-to-date knowledge of the relevant legislation, ensuring that the scheme is operating within the bounds of the law at all times. Our strata managers handle all administrative tasks such as preparing financial reports, circulating meeting notices and minutes of council meetings, and lodging the required returns with the regulating bodies on time. Using our knowledge and expertise we remove the burden of regulation and administration so that lot owners and council members can enjoy the benefits of this style of ownership.

Generally, people buy into this lifestyle to reduce stress and enjoy extra leisure time free from the hassles of having to look after a large yard and garden. When you leave the administrative burden of this ownership style with WA Strata Management you can relax, knowing that our professional staff members are taking care of everything. Buying into a strata scheme is a great way to get an overly busy life back under control.

Benefits Of Having A Professional Strata Manager

The complexities of the Strata Titles Act 1975, and its technical language, can be challenging to understand and interpret, which poses an issue for owners of strata titled properties in knowing exactly what their required duties and powers are, in relation to the Act.

Due to many property owners having their own financial and emotional concerns with regard to their property, it is in their interests to employ a professional Strata Manager to provide impartial information, facts and advice. It is beneficial to bring in a professional from a strata management company such as WA Strata Management to ensure that your strata development is set up properly from the beginning.

Technical Knowledge

A professional Strata Manager has gained many years of experience working with the technical details required for the successful operation and management of a strata managed property. The application of this knowledge will save you time and money, making the task of staying on top of the paperwork and details worth it for having as smooth an experience as possible.

Impartial/Objective Advice

For many of us, when it comes to our money and property, we can become overly emotionally involved in the processes that might need to take place, and this may cause problems with the way that we do business and the decisions that we make. We may not know where to get the information that we need, and what the best outcomes are for what we are trying to achieve. Having a professional strata manager looking after things for you will mean that you have access to impartial, objective information to allow you to make the right decisions for your future.

Central Communication/Outsourcing

Engaging the services of an experienced Professional Strata Manager for your strata property ensures that the most qualified person for the job is looking after your interests. This means that they will be able to outsource to the appropriate parties and they will provide a centralised communication contact person to assist with a smooth process.

Risk Management

A professional Strata Manager such as someone from WA Strata Management, will bring the experience of working through risk management situations, which can be a very good thing to have if things do not go to plan. In the event that something goes wrong with your strata property portfolio, and you already have a Strata Manager on your ‘team’, you will have greater peace of mind than if you had to do it on your own.