Is Your Building Struggling to Meet Increasing Client Expectations?

We are fortunate to be among those countries of the world with a high standard of living. We have excellent health, education and justice systems, a safe and stable environment in which to live, opportunities to work and improve ourselves and living conditions that are luxurious when compared with others. Our expectations of what is acceptable accommodation have risen with each successive generation, and we do not appreciate any lessening of those standards.

High Expectations in Accommodation Standards

This is not necessarily a problem in group living situations providing our expectations are met, but keeping up those standards can be difficult without the right management structures in place. A strata company managing a complex with multiple owners and tenants, for example, can quickly find that what they thought would be easy is actually hard work.

This is one of the main reasons why many building councils outsource their daily operations to companies like ours. WA Strata Management removes the burden of managing the building through the skills and experience of our professional strata staff.

Professional Management Offers Better Service than DIY

Along with a range of compliance, procedural and administrative tasks, our people have extensive contacts with tradespeople and contractors who provide services such as cleaning, pool maintenance, mowing and clean linen exchange. These and other services are essential in providing the standard of accommodation owners and tenants except in their living arrangements.

When a Council tries to look after these tasks themselves they are immediately at a disadvantage because they usually do not have access to contact details of competent and reliable service providers. Maintenance tasks must be performed to the highest standards every time, as a large building complex can very quickly look unkempt when the work is rushed or attention is not paid to the fine details.

Presentation and Attention to Detail Keeps Common Areas Inviting

Our professional strata managers know the level of service and standard of presentation expected by guests, owners and tenants. When outsourcing cleaning or maintenance work, they use service providers whose work they know and trust. They also check with building occupiers that the work has been done to their satisfaction.

This attention to detail is essential for the building and common areas to remain clean, tidy and ready for use by anyone authorised. Some complexes have tennis courts, swimming pools, indoor sports facilities and outdoor entertainment areas. These need to be kept clean and ready for use at any time. This is a huge task but one that in a professionally managed building is just expected as part of the overall accommodation standard.

These are standards that we fully support at WA Strata Management. This is what our clients expect, and it is precisely what we intend to deliver.

Multiple Payment Methods Encourage Prompt Payment of Invoices

With group living being one of the largest growing sectors of the housing market, apartment blocks catering to this demand are common. Now it is not unusual for several hundred people to be living together in what is almost a small town. This poses many challenges for those charged with the responsibility of keeping such a complex running smoothly.

Many strata councils find this too difficult without professional assistance, especially considering the large amounts of money involved. Unit owners pay levies to the councils to maintain the facilities and to accumulate funds for future capital spending. Receiving, securing and accounting for these funds requires reliable systems and sound knowledge of accounting.

Financial Management too Complex for Many Councils

This is just one of the reasons our services are in demand and our client base continues to grow. Our company, WA Strata Management, arranges the smooth running of every building complex under our care, making every aspect of the day-to-day operations carefree for the unit owners. This includes the financials, which are managed by our qualified staff and reported on to the councils on a regular basis.

Data Security a Major Component of our Financial System

A major aspect of providing this financial support is to make it as easy and as flexible as possible for payments to be made and recorded. We use the latest accounting software designed to handle the complex relationships that exist within the group living environment. This system uses the latest banking technology and it is regularly updated to ensure data security.

Flexible Payment Options on Offerzz

We offer multiple payment options, all accessible 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. These are already widely used within the Australian banking and payments systems so customers would be familiar with their use, as well as how to access them. This allows individuals to choose which option is best for their needs.

Online and Phone-In Options Available

Online payments are made using the reference number on the invoice that tracks the payment throughout the process. This ensures the payment is applied to the correct account and invoice. For those not comfortable using the internet, a phone-in option is also available. Customers can pre-register their bank account details, then make phone payments, again quoting the invoice reference number.

Credit Cards, BPay and Australia Post – Customer’s Choice

Both the online and phone-in options accept credit card payments. Customers can also arrange to use BPay by contacting their financial institution and organising for the funds to be transferred from a savings or cheque account. Australia Post’s bill payment service is another method and there is still the option to put a cheque or money order in the mail.

Information about all the payment options is available on our website. Our clients appreciate the flexibility and know their funds are in good hands with WA Strata Management managing their accounts.

Compliant Fire Procedures Protect Multi-Unit High Rise Dwellings

We see many examples in the media of the consequences of fires in homes and high-rise dwellings around the world. Many incidents end in tragic loss of life and those that don’t incur major financial cost and disruption to normal routines. In countries with little or no fire regulation this is not surprising, but here in Australia we can do better.

Fire Can Spread Quickly in Modern Dwellings

Our fire-fighting experts tell us that a small fire can engulf a room completely in two minutes and spread throughout the dwelling in less than five. Most modern furnishings are made from highly flammable synthetic materials. They also generate toxic smoke and fumes that are known to quickly overcome occupants.

This is why fire safety and the maintenance of fire equipment is always a top priority item in the group living schemes we manage. WA Strata Management employs experienced and highly trained professional strata company managers who are fully aware of the importance of this aspect of the Council’s responsibilities.

Regular Reviews of Fire Equipment Keep Maintenance a Top Priority

We are able to keep these responsibilities uppermost in mind in a few different ways. When we start working with a new Council, we may request a schedule of any equipment used to maintain the common areas. This would typically include fire equipment such as alarm systems, extinguishers, fire hose reels, smoke detectors and any other items required by the relevant legislation.

This type of review checks that all legal requirements have been met, that equipment has been tested and tagged as required and that any inferior equipment is identified as needing replacement. Depending on the size and complexity of the task, this check is often best outsourced to fire services experts. They are private operators whose business it is to know the technical details of the equipment and any changes to legislation that might require the purchase of new items.

Budget for Maintenance and Replacement of Fire Equipment

Another useful technique is the draft budget which the strata manager prepares for the Council to consider. Here we cost the maintenance of fire equipment for the common areas. When the budget is finalised and approved by the Council, the strata manager could then schedule the maintenance activities into the calendar as required.

Evacuation Procedures Save Lives

A critically important part of fire safety is to have a compliant evacuation program in place, especially in a high-rise, multi-unit complex. This requires specific actions and other legislative requirements that our management staff are familiar with. Their knowledge, in conjunction with private fire safety specialists, is invaluable to Councils that might otherwise struggle to handle their responsibilities in this area.

When fire safety is treated as a priority, the consequences in a multiple occupancy premises are far less dire than when the correct equipment and processes are in place.

Moving Into A New Building? Follow The Bylaws And You’ll Fit In

Moving into a new area is always exciting and an excellent opportunity to find great new places to shop, eat, work and socialise. If you are moving into a large group living complex, there are even more new things to discover as you check out the common areas to see what sort of facilities are available to you.

Don’t Know the Rules in Your New Living Situation?

However, the excitement is often tempered with that lost feeling some people experience in the early stages when they are trying to fit in but lack the confidence to put themselves “out there”. They want to be acknowledged but, at the same time, are keeping a low profile in case they make some faux pas, real or imagined, that will embarrass them.

We see it all the time in our business. At WA Strata Management, we provide professional management expertise to our clients, the strata councils that are responsible for the administration of their residential complexes. Our strata managers perform the daily operational tasks needed to keep large multiple living arrangements running smoothly.

Bad Habits and Behaviour will cause Friction with your Neighbours

One of the issues they find recurring in almost every location involves human behaviour, which we all know can be difficult to manage. They are often asked to assist with disputes between neighbours over excessive noise, misuse of common facilities, parking or storage areas and the like. Sometimes these are the result of a clash of personalities, but often they are inadvertently caused by new occupants unfamiliar with the premises.

Bylaws are Enacted to Help People Live in Close Proximity without Disputes

Most of these disagreements could be avoided if everyone, especially people new to the complex, understood the bylaws and followed any directives issued by the council as a result. There are different types of bylaws, some established by legislation at the time the strata plan is lodged. Others are passed as resolutions by the respective strata companies once they have been established.

There are “exclusive use” bylaws which, as the name suggests, allows individual lot owners exclusive use of parts of the common areas. These must be passed by resolution without dissent. Bylaws may be amended or repealed, also without dissent, and any new or repealed bylaw must be registered with the appropriate authorities.

Bylaws Differ from one Complex to Another – Find Out what Applies to You

Bylaws can be made regarding an extensive range of matters that will be similar for many group situations but will also be very specific to individual situations. For this reason alone, every building complex should make their bylaws readily available to all occupants. This allows occupants to understand their rights to personal space and their responsibilities when using common areas.

When occupants take note of the requirements of the bylaws and follow the rules, living in a group occupancy situation becomes the safe, secure and pleasant experience it is meant to be.

I Want to Run a Business from My Apartment – Problem?

The internet and smart phone technology has revolutionised our society, with changes happening quickly that have affected both our social and work lives. Many people now are self-employed, with much of that business being conducted from their own homes. For those who live in traditional detached housing, this is not such a problem, but how does it affect people in strata living situations?

A Home Business in Your Apartment?

There is no easy answer to this question. The operation of a home-based business is a state and local government matter and for this reason, the requirements differ widely throughout Australia. There will be state legislation and local government by-laws that regulate these businesses, regardless of whether the business is located in a house or in a group lot situation.

WA Strata Management is a company providing management services to a wide range of strata councils. Just as an exercise, we searched the WA Small Business Development Corporation website, nominated a type of home business and found that in the two local government areas we searched, home occupation approvals must be sought from the relevant local council.

Check All Your Facts Before Starting

Without actually contacting those councils, the web site made it clear that only the owners of a premises can operate a business from there, and along with other restrictions, this business must not involve a retail operation, display or hire of goods. There are also various OH&S Codes of Practice that may need to be addressed, and this was just the start of the search.

Know the Rules for Your Particular Situation

It would be safe to say, therefore, that every situation needs to be looked at individually. A freelance writer or computer programmer, for example, working in isolation in their apartments and submitting work via the internet would not be affecting anyone else in the building by their work activities.

A field sales manager, however, who has a team of say ten sales people under their direction and holds regular team meetings in their apartment could certainly cause problems with the neighbours, especially if these meetings were held at night. The mass influx of extra people would cause parking and noise issues, and it would not be long before this came to the attention of the Council.

A Brave New World – Challenges of the Future

Home businesses are proliferating and many successful business owners started their enterprises in their bedrooms, so it is hard to argue against the practice in general. This will be an ongoing issue into the future, much the same as those who use Airbnb to rent out their apartments to strangers when they go on holidays.

These, and others not yet evident, are the challenges confronting the strata living industry as more and more people choose this type of living. The future is changing and it may mean an end to set and forget Council by-laws, and many more vigorous exchanges of opinion in Council meetings.