“Why do strata title dwelling owners, after putting all that money into their property, go off and pay someone else to run everything for them when they could just as easily do it themselves!” Well, if you have to ask that question you obviously don’t know that it isn’t at all easy to manage a strata title and you’ll soon see why.
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There are a number of benefits of living in a gated estate that makes them attractive to a wide demographic. Security is high on the list, having people in close proximity is a plus for extroverts, and the ability to share in the use of the communal facilities, without having to physically maintain them, is a major attraction. However, having the use of the communal facilities is not without its challenges, and disputes often arise unless there are clear and enforceable rules about access, behaviour and appropriateness of use. The other contentious issue that needs to be clearly explained is how the authority to manage these facilities is devolved.
As the home unit sector of the real property market continues to expand to meet the demand for small lot living, more and more residents are living under a strata management arrangement. This is defined as a situation where there are multiple units or apartments on a single block of land, each independently owned, but subject to legislative requirements to manage common areas on behalf of all owners. The obligations imposed by state legislation are there to protect the rights of every person in the complex and this includes tenants as well as owners.
The management of a strata company is not much different from the management of a business. They both need to operate within the parameters of legislation and they both require sound operating procedures and skilled staff to provide a service. Most importantly, they both need to keep detailed and accurate accounting records to control costs, report on the financial state of the company and lodge tax and corporate returns with government agencies. In this respect, a strata company is a business. Its structure is different so it is not subject to Australian Corporation’s laws, but it is a legal entity carrying on an enterprise and is subject to Australian tax laws.
Strata title arrangements are unique in the ownership of property and have been developed over time as a result of the demand for small lot housing. Duplexes, unit developments and apartment buildings have changed the way households live in Australia. Increasing numbers of people want to live in dwellings where they share common property and hand the responsibility for the daily operation and maintenance of their property to a strata manager.
People choose occupations for a variety of reasons, usually related to their level of interest in a particular vocational area and their aptitude for gaining the necessary skills. For many people, one of the overriding factors that steer them in a particular direction is the level of engagement they must have with the general public in a typical working day.
When people buy into or rent a unit under a strata title arrangement, it is a wise move to fully understand the concept and any restrictions it may place on lifestyle choices, before any contracts are signed. The very nature of strata title developments brings people in close proximity to each other in their living arrangements. It becomes very uncomfortable when situations arise that place harmonious neighbour relationships in jeopardy, especially if these situations result in legal action.
With the number of residential properties under strata title in Australia numbering the hundreds of thousands, you could be forgiven for thinking that by now, the general public would be well educated in the concept of strata title and the rules around it. However there are still many misconceptions and a general lack of knowledge about the rules and regulations that provide structure to the various activities involved in running a well-managed strata title scheme.
There should always be two sides to any agreement for it to be effective and fair to both parties. This is true regardless of whether it is a written agreement or a verbal one. In the world of strata management, a written contract or agreement is essential, given the complexity of the legislation and the differing roles involved in strata title management.
One of the most important lessons successful companies and businesses have learnt is to listen to their customers and provide the goods and services that are important to them. Regardless of what we think they want, it is only through open communication with our customers that we as a business actually know for certain what matters to them.