5 things you may not know good strata managers do

Assumptions we make about a strata manager’s responsibilities aren’t always as accurate as we think. In this article, we take a look at five things you may not know that good strata managers do regularly

While many of us who live in a community living setting often make assumptions about what good strata managers do on a day-to day-basis — such as liaising with committee members and owners, sending out levy notices, organising tradespeople etc. — the reality is that their job entails a lot more than most of us realise.

To learn more about what good strata managers do for strata committees, owners and residents day in and day out, we spoke to Sachin Sharma. Sachin is an experienced strata manager at NSW Strata Management, who has been with the company for about seven years. He manages an extensive portfolio of around 1600 lots spread all over Sydney, from Parramatta to Neutral Bay and even the Inner West, so we can safely assume he knows a thing or two about strata management.

Keep reading to learn what you may not have known good strata managers do regularly.How much do you know about what good strata managers do on behalf of strata committees, owners and residents? Aside from communicating with committees and owners, and organising repairs and maintenance, good strata managers do the following:

  1. Take care of trust or bank accounts and managing cash flow on the strata committee’s behalf
  2. Maintain the strata roll
  3. Help resolve disputes among neighbours
  4. Work proactively in the best interests of strata property owners
  5. Enhance community living through education and additional resources

1. Take care of trust or bank accounts and managing cash flow on the strata committee’s behalf

While some owners think strata managers only send out strata levy notices and pay bills, this isn’t entirely true. Good strata managers do a whole lot more than that, as confirmed by Sachin.

“Good strata managers do a countless number of things relating to finances in the background. We occasionally come across owners who believe their levies are strata manager salaries, but only a very small portion of the levies go towards the management fee— sometimes as little as 45 cents per day. In New South Wales, most of the money from levies goes straight into a trust account,” Sachin explained.

A good strata manager will keep an eye on a strata scheme’s accounts to ensure cash flow is healthy enough to complete a strata scheme’s maintenance and repairs as needed. They will also advise the strata committee if budgets or levies need to be reviewed.

“We use the fund available to each strata scheme to manage and administer the property, arrange common property repairs, pay building insurance, arrange common area cleaning and gardening as requested by the committee, all while managing cash flow,” Sachin confirmed.

Maintain the strata roll

Keeping the strata roll up-to-date on behalf of a strata committee’s secretary is among the most important things good strata managers do regularly. This ensures strata-related communication is sent to the correct address, owners and residents can be contacted on the correct contact details if needed and owners do not miss out on important information such as levy notices and meeting notices.

While this may not seem like a time-consuming job at first glance, it’s important to remember that many strata residents are tenants who may only live at the property for a year or even less. When they leave, and new tenants move in, the strata roll must be updated once again.

“I receive regular communication from property managers about tenants moving in and out of strata properties – about 50 per month in general. Just today, I received three emails about this before 9 am, including one which has eight questions I will need to answer,” Sachin said.

Needless to say, liaising with property managers and keeping strata rolls up-to-date is among a strata manager’s most time-consuming jobs, especially when it comes to buildings with a high turnover of residents.

Help resolve disputes among neighbours

While most strata managers will help resolve disputes within strata properties, resolving disputes with neighbouring properties is another one of those tasks good strata managers do without complaint. Sachin shared that disputes about trees and falling leaves clogging drains and gutters are among the most common types of inter-property disputes he helps resolve.

“Committees and owners sometimes get in touch about leaves from a neighbouring property’s tree clogging their gutter or making a mess on their strata property,” Sachin said. “Luckily, as NSW Strata Management is part of the PICA Group family network, we may find that another PICA Group company manages the neighbouring property. If not, we spend a lot of time contacting the neighbouring property’s management agent to start the resolution process, as this information isn’t readily available anywhere. Once lines of communication are open, the process may involve asking the neighbouring property to trim trees and sending multiple emails and photos to get the ball rolling.”

Such issues can be quite complex to deal with, as negotiations will need to occur between two sets of committees and strata managers. All parties need to agree on a proposed resolution before any action is taken. “In New South Wales, if that committee refuses to cooperate, the matter could end up going all the way up to a Community Justice Centre. It then becomes a challenging and time-consuming exercise,” Sachin shared. “What many strata property owners don’t know is that we take part in such exercises regularly and spend hours and hours working behind the scenes for them, for what can be seen as a simple request.”  Good strata managers do remain involved in the entire process, right up to the reaching of a resolution.

Work proactively in the best interests of strata property owners

Working proactively to improve strata properties for the long term is something many good strata managers do without owners even realising.

“I am always working behind the scenes in the best interests of owners. In particular, I like to make sure the buildings I manage are prepared for severe weather events like storms,” Sachin explained. “On average, we have to attend to around 100 roof leaks after severe storms. That’s why we try to prepare before severe weather warnings come into place. I generally request that roofers complete regular roof, gutter and downpipe cleaning. I also ask cleaners to check all drains, especially if the building has open rooftop facilities, to make sure drains aren’t blocked. When you have about 100ml of rain within half an hour or so, drains will sometimes overflow and create leaks. That’s why I ask plumbers to jet blast pipes and cleaners to spend extra time cleaning out rooftop facilities, to ensure minimal damage to the buildings I manage during severe storms.

For Sachin, knowing how much damage a severe storm can cause if you’re unprepared comes from personal experience. “I live in an apartment building, so I understand that a roof leak is not a simple thing – it can damage the property and its contents and well as flooring, which can be expensive and time-consuming to fix. That’s why we try to be proactive whenever we can because we can’t control weather events.”

Enhance community living through education and additional resources

Though strata managers have set responsibilities, good strata managers do go out of their way to help and advise strata committees and owners with tasks that aren’t technically in their job description, to do their part in enhancing community living.

Sachin used the example of council rubbish bins when elaborating on how he does this when possible. Strata managers are only responsible for managing common property, which does not include organising the maintenance and replacement of bins as this is a local council responsibility that is accounted for in the regular council rates all owners pay. However, strata managers often receive calls from owners requesting help with replacing broken or missing council bins.

“If we have to the capacity to do so, we do go out of our scope of work do things like contact the local council to organise for replacement, to help owners. Strata managers also often contact councils on behalf of the owners, and arrange kerbside council cleanup pickups too.”

Good strata managers do also proactively pass additional resources such as guides and articles to committee members and owners, to improve their community living experience and make sure they are well-equipped with the knowledge they need to make strata decisions.Having set up the very first strata scheme in Australia back in 1948, we’ve come a long way in our knowledge and experience across a variety of property types. Whether you are new to strata management or an active committee member, we have developed an extensive library of resources to assist you. Click here to download our FREE Community Living guide on committee management. For a consultation to review your current by-laws with the Kemp Peterson team, click here. To find out more about the services we offer, click here for a free strata assessment.