The role of a strata manager and property managers are often confused with one another, but they perform very different and distinct duties.
If you’re thinking about buying off the plan, moving into or investing in a strata building it’s important to know the difference between the two roles.
The role of a property manager
A property manager typically works in a real estate agents’ office. They look after individual properties on an owner’s behalf, finding and vetting tenants, collecting the rent on time, and ensuring that the property is well maintained and repairs are carried out when required. They’re also responsible for the regular monitoring and inspections of the property to ensure that the tenants are not in violation of any of the terms of their rental agreement.
Property managers also act as a liaison between the tenant and the owner, so if the tenant wants to ask permission to make any changes to the property, they can let the property manager know, who would then pass on their request to the landlord. Conversely, the owner uses the property manager to convey updates to the tenants, such as a notification as to when tradespeople will need access to the property to carry out maintenance, or from what date they will be imposing a rent increase and what the new amount due will be.
The role of a strata manager
A strata manager is responsible for an entire building, ensuring that the building and its common areas are well maintained and compliant with current industry and insurance regulations. They also act as a point of contact to coordinate meetings for the buildings property owners to discuss matters, such as the appropriate use and management of common areas, parking issues, repairs, maintenance and so on.
Strata managers also deal with correspondence regarding the building, be it from existing tenants, owners or prospective buyers. They often assist in arranging quotes and hire tradespeople to carry out works on the building, submit insurance claims, and keep a record of all activities that are carried out in relation to the property so that all expenditure can be accounted for.
Why is there a difference in the roles?
One of the main reasons why a strata manager should not also perform the duty of property manager and vice versa is a conflict of interest.
Say, for example, a dispute arises between two property owners in a building which requires the intervention of the strata manager to resolve it. If that strata manager is also the property manager for one of the owners involved in the dispute, there is a clear conflict of interest, and the strata manager could be open to accusations of bias in favour of the owner that they are also acting as property manager for.
Strata managers also have several legal obligations when it comes to the management of a building. Some of these obligations, such as recommending costly repairs to the building, may go against the wishes of a landlord, who wants to keep their costs to a minimum, so there should be a clear separation of these roles so that conflicts such as these cannot arise.