No Pets May Not Mean No Pets

Accurate Body Corporate services are a must in this day and age. WA Strata Management are specialists in this field. We understand the ins and outs of the bylaws and conditions that revolve around living in a community style environment.

Some apartment style living bylaws may have originally nominated a no pet rule. This rule is important for people who really want to live in a pet free zone and they are entitled to choose to live this way.

Whilst it is a good standard rule it may be able to be adjusted if proper application is made.

The reason for this is that statistics show that a large percentage (60+ %) of us have a pet of some kind. This is because they are great companions. The powers that be are coming to understand this and make it easier for people who wish to have pets.

Having an animal for a companion can reduce stress, lower blood pressure, reduce loneliness, and even increase activity if you have a dog you walk regularly. Walking a dog is also a great way to meet people.

So what do you do if you want to live in an apartment that does not allow pets as part of the body corporate rules? You complete a Pet Application Form.

Pet Application Form

Due to the large number of people possessing pets the Strata Community Australia (SCA) and Petcare Information and Advisory Service (PIAS) have created a Pet Application Form designed to screen furry and feathered applicants.

It seems rather funny to complete an application for yourself and then to complete an application for your pet but when you read through the form you can see why it is so important.

Ensuring your pet is properly vaccinated, micro chipped and registered with the local authority are essential to living in this style of living and is pretty standard in any tenancy.

What is really important is the agreement itself. It highlights to a pet owner the responsibilities they must adhere to. Completing this form means the pet owner understands and intends to abide by the rules.

These include such things as, but is not limited to:-

  • Ensuring pets do not unreasonably cause annoyance or disturbance
  • Maintain a high standard of sanitation and cleanliness
  • Maintain a preventive health regime
  • Are kept under control at times of using common property
  • Accept responsibility and liability for damage caused

So next time you see a place that advertises no pets. At least ask the question. You may be pleasantly surprised.

Make Fire Safety a Priority

House fires can have a devastating effect on the lives of those living on the property and to those closest to them if lives are lost. It is vitally important to stay on top of fire safety and related maintenance.

Where units and flats are concerned it is the responsibility of the body corporate to ensure common areas have well-equipped and working fire installations.

Body corporate first point of call

Reliable body corporate services will have such items installed and maintained by a qualified and experienced person who is licensed to implement the following:

  • Fire doors;
  • Exit signs;
  • Extinguishers and hydrants;
  • Emergency lighting;
  • Fire hose reels;
  • Smoke detectors; and
  • Evacuation signs and routes.

At WA Strata Management we don’t take such an important issue lightly and we make sure that maintenance is carried out on a yearly basis and any reported risks or damage that is reported will be investigated on top of this.

It is also our responsibility to ensure that evacuation plans, diagrams and signs are well displayed and easily visible in the common areas. Failure to do this is not complying with the Building Fire and Safety Regulation Act 2008.

Residents who believe there may be an issue with any of these items should contact us so we may have the problem rectified.

What else can residents do?

As residents and neighbours it’s ideal that everyone living in the scheme undertakes some responsibility in avoiding fire hazards and ensuring safety. Not leaving flammable material on the stairs or under buildings and reporting any tripping hazards in evacuation routes is a way to prevent hazards in common areas.

Familiarise yourself and other occupants with the fire procedure and layout of building in case of fire; don’t be complacent in thinking it won’t happen to you.

There are things residents can individually do in their homes too. Make sure that plugs and chords are in good condition and report any rats in the building as they can cause fires by chewing through chords. Clean the lint filter in your dryer often if you have one and check that smoke detectors and alarms are functioning with batteries fully charged.

Some of the major causes of fires in winter are portable heaters. Don’t forget to turn these off and don’t place near flammable items such as curtains, clothing or lounges. Check chords on electric blankets for any fraying before use.

Candles are ambient and romantic but don’t leave them unattended and don’t leave cooking unattended, especially if you have young children.

Ultimately fire safety is the responsibility of everyone and at WA Strata Management we make sure we do our part. If you want to report any fire safety issues in your building contact us today!

Minimise Dispute Issues in WA Strata Arrangements

If you are a first time occupier of a unit, apartment or even a commercial site you are probably all at sea with regard to the expectations and restraints of individuals who reside within the property.

If you have never lived or worked in this style of accommodation it would be wise to educate yourself with regard to these expectations so as to avoid conflict or possible legal proceedings that may incur a penalty.

Unlike the freedom you have when living in a house, there are certain obligations and behaviours that are expected in a shared environment.

The single biggest factor is the determining of common property. Most agreements will obviously incorporate any shared zones such as driveways, car parks, toilets, BBQ areas, gymnasiums, and pools. This is because everybody has an opportunity to enjoy these spaces.

Some of the grey areas regarding shared zones are things such as the guttering and storm water disposal. Who is responsible should the guttering need repair or not be channelling water in the correct manner?

This is why it is absolutely essential you make yourself aware of the by-laws that relate to your living environment. Making yourself aware will help you avoid or identify bad behaviour or habits.

Examples of By-Laws

A By-Law is a statutory contract. Infringements of this contract can lead to injunctions and claims for damages. For example:-

  • It would be inappropriate for the dumping of rubbish on shared zones to take place.
  • The making of excessive noise between certain hours can be prohibited.
  • Parking in areas not designated as parking can be prohibited.

As astute strata specialists we understand these by-laws can become quite complex and the interpretation of such wording as “reasonable steps” and “state of good repair” is open to the individual.

It is our goal to maintain efficient financial control and invest time with owners to provide the absolute support they crave

We strive to educate all residents and streamline all procedures to reduce any confusion that may arise and personally create an arrangement that offers peace of mind to all.

These arrangements are constantly reviewed to ascertain if they are still relevant and keeping up with the market demands.

WA Strata Management http://www.wastrata.com possess a combined 70-year wealth of knowledge in this business and as a member of the Strata Community Australia (SCA) we are able to keep up with these trends.

Investing the Easy Way

Whether it be for retirement or to safeguard against the loss of your regular income we all understand the importance of creating a nest egg for our future.

It does not matter which government possesses leadership at any given time; there is always the threat of more taxes, lower incomes and no pension.

What you can guarantee is that with each leadership change there is an adjustment in the way things are done.

If you are interested in building a real estate portfolio to ensure your future is safe, convenient strata management may be the answer you have been seeking says a spokesman from WA Strata Management http://www.wastrata.com.

You don’t need to live in Perth or its surrounding serviced areas of Bunbury, Busselton, Mandurah, Dunsborough, Margaret River, Augusta and beyond to take advantage of the expertise we have to offer.

Let us take the stress and worry out of your investment portfolio. Our skilled and experienced staff keep up to date moment by moment on current legislation requirements and bylaws whilst managing the intricacies of:-

  • Calculating contributions;
  • Managing trust accounts;
  • Maintaining all insurance issues;
  • Preparing accurate budgets;
  • Arranging maintenance of common property;
  • Attending and chairing appropriate meetings;
  • Arranging payment of all outgoings and fees;
  • Plus much, much more.

Easy Payment Options for You

We are all very busy and most of us choose not to waste time. To make things even easier we have a range of options for you to select from when making your payments.

You may choose to use Australia Post as your preferred method of payment as you can find a post office just about anywhere these days.

If you prefer to set and forget your payments you can take advantage of the online Services of DEFT Payment Systems, which allows you to register the bank account of your choice be it a savings account, Visa or MasterCard. DEFT Payment Systems will then look after the rest for you, leaving your time free to pursue a more fulfilling interest.

With a 24-hour account access with us you are able to check in whenever you have the time. You may be half way across the world when it is midnight here in Perth and be able to view and adjust your invoices and payments as you feel appropriate.

Give our friendly experienced staff a call now to discuss these great benefits and many more.

Tenants and Landlords Both Need to Be Truthful

Property managers could be forgiven for thinking that being lied to is part of their job description. Our own intuitive radar has been telling us that for some time but now, evidence has emerged that supports what we have always believed. Both tenants and landlords bend the truth to suit their ends, and the property managers are caught in the middle.

Good Decisions Rely on Factual Information

In strata situations, maintaining efficient body corporate management is difficult enough without parties to tenancy agreements being loose with the truth. Our body corporate managers, by the nature of their roles, are always juggling competing priorities and when these priorities become skewed because lies are being told, it makes their roles that much more difficult. When they are also acting as property managers for in absentia owners, they need to be confident that any decisions they make are based on fact.

A recent canvassing exercise has proven conclusively that half-truths, excuses and straight out lies are told to body corporate managers without shame or hesitation by both landlords and tenants. It is no surprise to us that the lies and excuses are almost identical from one agency to another.

Lies and Half Truths Almost Universal

How many times have managers been told that “the property was spotless when I left it” when they are staring at a mountain of garbage left in the kitchen of a unit? Do tenants think they have never heard “it was like that when I moved in”, despite the fact that the initial inspection did not identify a fist-sized hole in the bedroom wall? Why would they not just contact us and explain the accidental damage, then work with us to fix it?

If tenants treated these situations with honesty and all other aspects of their tenancy agreements were adhered to, we would most likely still give them a good reference, or assist them with new tenancies when they needed them. By taking the cheat’s way out, they leave us with a poor impression of them.

Even Landlords Make Excuses

Landlords can also bend the truth when it suits them. Every agent has heard the words “there were no maintenance problems when I lived there,” or “the garden was immaculate” when photos attached to the initial inspection report showed a very different story.

At WA Strata Management we do our best to provide a unique service to the body corporate that will ensure the smooth running of the facility and allow the occupants to live there in quiet enjoyment of their unit. Being upfront and honest about any issue is always the best way to ensure this happens with a minimum of fuss.

Significant Difference in Roles of Strata vs. Property Managers

If you are considering buying a unit or apartment in a strata complex and are new to the concept, you are at the start of a steep learning curve. To get the most out of this experience understand that there are quite a few things that are different when living in this environment. One of the most important is to accept that when you buy into this type of living arrangement, you are legally responsible for many things that are often outside your control.

Understanding of Different Roles Needed by Strata Owners

The way that most large complexes manage these responsibilities is to appoint a strata or building manager. Be aware that this is not the same role as that of a property manager. The differences are significant and understanding them is important. WA Strata Management is just one of a number of companies that provide astute strata services and our role is to work for all the owners as a group.

In contrast, a property manager works for one person, the owner of the property being tenanted. It is often the case in a large apartment building that there are many property managers doing inspections and visiting tenants as part of their responsibilities to look after various units on behalf of the owners. They may collect the rent, organise tenancies and look after all the associated paperwork.

Building Managers Work to Protect Owners’ Investments

However, they are not inspecting the common areas such as swimming pools, tennis courts, parking areas, gyms, spas, etc. This is the role we fulfil as building managers. A significant part of our responsibilities is to protect the investment of all the unit owners. We do that by preventing situations such as under insuring and making sure maintenance is done as and when it is required.

We organise cleaners for common areas, and arrange maintenance for the pool and other common equipment like exterior lighting. If this is not done, an injury to someone using the common areas becomes the responsibility of all the owners and they could be liable for thousands of dollars in compensation.

Owners Committee Issues Instruction to Us

One of our informal roles is to act as peacemaker when disagreements arise between the residents of the complex. We become the go-between and try to help solve the issues. We also make sure that the owners committee meets regularly to discuss the building management and to issue instructions to us on their behalf.

Being a property manager at the same time as our other duties would be a conflict of interest and it is something we never do. When owners understand this it makes our job much easier.

All Lot Owners Responsible for Common Property Maintenance

Living in close quarters and sharing costs and responsibilities sounds like a very community-minded approach to addressing the problems associated with urban sprawl. Group title living arrangements such as retirement villages or an apartment complex benefit the owners of individual lots in economies of scale. The costs of maintaining common areas are shared in proportion to lot ownership, and there is always someone handy to help out in emergency situations.

Recent University Study Results Show Lack of Understanding

If the reality matched the intention, this style of living would be idyllic. However, human behaviour being what it is, there is always a catch, and according to a recent university study, the catch is the blurred lines associated with responsibility. This study found that 51% of owners in strata titled developments had a dispute with neighbours and 39% had issues with the management concerning repairs as well as who should pay for them.

The obvious outcome of it all was that many owners did not understand firstly, what was common property and what was theirs, and secondly, what the law required in terms of their contribution to common property repairs and maintenance. Unfortunately, this is a situation we encounter regularly at WA Strata Management.

Our company provides management services to hundreds of group living schemes and one of our biggest issues is informing owners about their responsibilities for the maintenance of their properties. As a reliable strata management service provider it is our role to perform many of the duties of the Council, a body elected by the owners to manage the scheme on their behalf.

Boundaries of Common Property Set by Law

Even though all states have legislation setting out these responsibilities, there are always owners who will not accept that they must pay a share of the maintenance of common property. Exactly what is common property can vary slightly from state to state, but regardless, the laws are very clear on this issue. Whether the common boundaries are the outside, middle or inside of the walls, floors or ceilings are irrelevant in any disagreement because these can be determined by law.

Court Decisions Uphold Shared Costs for Maintenance of Common Property

It may seem unfair that ground floor owners must pay to maintain a lift they never use. This case was referenced in the report but the court found that as common property, they were responsible for its maintenance. In another case, the court found that rising damp in a ground floor unit was the responsibility of the body corporate. Again, this decision was based on what was designated as common property.

We recommend that people buying into group living schemes make sure they understand this before making this financial commitment. It would certainly make our job at WA Strata Management a lot easier.

Experience, Service and Skills – We Offer the Lot

The number of strata properties is increasing every year as people find this style of living more suited to a busy lifestyle than a free standing property that requires regular upkeep and yard maintenance. Owner/occupiers enjoy the security of living close to neighbours and investors who may live interstate or overseas know that their valuable investment is being looked after by the on-site staff.

Large Complexes Require Structure and Regulations

There are many residential complexes in existence now that have hundreds of units or apartments in multiple lot schemes. Anyone who has lived in one of these complexes knows that they are just like a small town, and as with any town where hundreds of people live closely with each other, there must be rules and regulations. Without this structure and level of control, issues can get out of hand and very quickly become volatile unless there is some form of authority.

We are a strata management company with years of experience at looking after the day-to-day running of grouped housing. Our team at WA Strata Management provide a quality service to our clients, the elected Councils that are responsible for carrying out the executive actions as required by law. We take a personal approach to looking after our clients, and we achieve this by working hard to build sound relationships with the Councils we serve.

Providing Exceptional Service to Our Clients is Our Mission

We believe that service is the key to our success, and we back up that belief with well-trained and knowledgeable staff members who know and understand the legislation and regulations surrounding strata schemes. This unique style of owning property is not new, but it creates its own challenges and one of these is the complexity of the ownership arrangements and the governing legislation. Our team members are experienced in all aspects of group titles governance, and this gives our clients the confidence to leave operational issues to us.

Efficient financial control is vital for the on-going success of any group scheme. When we start with a new client providing professional body corporate management, setting up financial systems based on proven accounting standards and practices is our first priority. We provide a comprehensive range of regular services that keep the complex operating at maximum efficiency. We also offer special services where needed as a value-added option. These include wage and tax related duties, issuing notices of meetings, attending meetings, preparing and circulating minutes, serving notices and collecting and banking contributions.

Our goal here at WA Strata Management is to look after the details so that the Council members and lot owners can enjoy the benefits of this increasingly popular style of living. We are happy to provide information on request and to meet with any Council interested in our services.

Strata Management Solutions

When designing a strata management solution it is important to employ a team of specialists with a proven programme. Convenient body corporate management is within your grasp with WA Strata Management.

Every strata scheme has its own requirements. The basics, however, do not change. There are many issues to consider when setting up a strata management system. Arranging emergency maintenance repairs and sourcing providers is a drop in the ocean when you also consider you will regularly need to:

  • Prepare annual general meeting agendas and issue the notices;
  • Attend and/or chair annual general meetings;
  • Take and circulate minutes of annual general meetings;
  • Maintain records and files for the strata company and its owners;
  • Create and deliver an efficient maintenance programme;
  • Liaise with government officials regarding authorisations and licences; and
  • Ensure all regulations and decisions adhere to the Strata Titles Act 1985 as amended and the Strata Titles General Regulations 1996.

The service WA Strata Management offers goes even deeper than this by delivering the above as well as also efficiently managing and preparing all financial records for the strata company.

Financial Record Administration of Strata Management

Managing a strata company is like managing a business and the efficient management and control of the financial records of that business are essential to its success.

Founded on current banking technology with full strata management functionality, the WA Strata Management accounting system features automatic routine billing and fast levy processing. Regular services include:

  • Accurate budget preparation;
  • Precise contribution and levy calculation and distributing and receipting of same;
  • Management of trust account;
  • Accessible financial record maintenance;
  • Preparing sub-meter accounts for basic services of water, electricity and gas; and
  • Collecting and banking contributions under 36(2) of the Strata Titles Act 1985 as amended.

Convenient Ways for Members to Pay

To ensure the financial structure of the strata runs efficiently and to encourage timely payment from its members, it is important to offer a range of convenient payment methods.

We all lead busy lives with different priorities. With shift work, children, study, travel time and personal commitments to factor in, such as regular exercise, obligations to your children’s school or volunteer choices it is not always convenient for a member to pay accounts in person.

For this reason, a range of secure payment options is available. Members can pay contributions and levies via:

  • DEFT payment systems on the internet or via the phone;
  • BPAY;
  • Post Billpay;
  • Credit Card, using Visa or Mastercard; and
  • Post.

Visit http://www.wastrata.com for more information.

Strata Laws Necessary for Comfort When Living at Close Quarters

Living under a strata title arrangement is a very different environment from living in a free-standing dwelling occupying an entire block of land. There is the convenience of having a manager to look after the common areas such as swimming pools, recreation areas, stairwells, driveways and gardens. However, there is also a requirement to abide by the state legislation covering strata companies and also the by-laws and rules established by the strata company.

These laws and rules are necessary to ensure that everyone who owns or occupies a dwelling in a strata company is treated fairly and equally. They also ensure that the financial affairs of the strata company are kept in order and that everyone knows what is expected of them in terms of behaviour and permissions.

All strata companies and their members must abide by state law, but they are able to set their own rules at the first meeting. These rules apply to every owner and tenant, and they must be provided to them within seven days of occupancy. As circumstances change, a strata company may wish to change or abolish altogether the original rules and establish new ones. This can be done but only with the agreement of 75% of the members.

Strata Company By-Laws and Rules Cover Common Issues

When people live together in large groups, the issues that arise are usually the same for every strata company. It is not surprising then, that most by-laws and rules set by strata companies are about issues like behaviour, noise, littering, damaging or obstructing common property, appearance of the units, children, pets, vehicles, storage of dangerous goods and general garbage disposal. It seems that no matter where or how humans live together, these cause the most friction.

These rules are usually supplied to every owner or tenant, and often displayed in the relevant common areas so there is no misunderstanding about what is expected. Of course, there is always someone who wants to challenge the status quo, and there are dispute resolution processes in most strata companies to prevent disputes from escalating beyond the control of the strata company.

Mediation the Only Solution if Dispute is with the Strata Company

Taking a dispute to the next strata company meeting is the process if the people involved have not been able to reach an amicable agreement on their own. This step must be a mutual decision between both parties, so that any resolution suggested by the strata company is accepted as final. If the dispute is with the strata company itself, then mediation is arranged to resolve it. In this process, an independent moderator assists the opposing parties to come to an agreement.

The key to ensuring that everyone living in strata arrangements understands what is expected of them is to provide clear, unambiguous information and instructions to every person, immediately they occupy the premises.