How can a strata manager help your strata committee?
Strata managers are trained professionals with thorough knowledge and expertise required to ensure proper and timely compliance with the legal, meeting, record keeping, accounting & financial, insurance and safety requirements relevant to a strata property. By engaging a strata manager, you have additional assurance that they will act objectively and ethically without favour or bias.
An owners corporation may engage a licensed strata manager (also known as a body corporate manager or owners corporation manager) to help them manage their strata property.
They can choose the responsibilities of their appointed strata managing agent when negotiating the contract with them (excluding any owners corporation’s obligations that cannot be delegated). For instance, an owners corporation may wish to handle their financial affairs but have meetings arranged by the strata manager.Below are seven main duties and responsibilities of a strata manager, and a step-by-step guide on how to change your existing strata manager to a new one:
- Record keeping
- Financial management
- Insurance management
- Meeting management
- Maintenance management
- Compliance management
- General guidance and counsel
- Step-by-step process for changing strata managers
Using a professional strata manager means getting the benefit of record-keeping systems and processes.
A strata manager will maintain all records required by legislation including:
- Written and electronic correspondence
- Proxy forms, voting papers
- Notices and minutes
- Compliance certification
- Accounting records and financial statements
- Copies of all contracts entered into by the owners corporation
- Registered strata plan and any relevant management statement, by-laws or building rules
- Maintain the strata roll, the access control register, and facilitate the inspection of records of the owners corporation and retrieve records from the archives when required.
Strata managers have the experience, contacts, and know the history of the strata property to be able to help an owners corporation forecast budgets and allocate funds accordingly.
The financial duties and responsibilities of a strata manager include:
- Establishing trust accounts
- Bank reconciliations
- Issuing reminder and final levy notices
- Managing the debt collection of unpaid levies
- Arranging audits, preparing GST & BAS statements
- Budgets and levy contributions
- Financial reporting
- Providing relevant stakeholders such as owners or prospective buyers with financial information
- Keeping you updated about legislative changes and deadlines when fees need to be paid to ensure your property remains compliant.
Having the right amount of insurance cover is pivotal for any strata property.
A strata manager will arrange quotations for insurances required under legislation, assess whether other insurances such as worker’s compensation or additional insurance cover is necessary, pay insurance premiums, prepare and lodge routing insurance claims, liaise with loss adjusters, and maintain insurance records.
Meetings of a strata property require a great deal of coordination and management. Some certain legislative requirements and protocols need to take place.
A strata manager can help guide meeting requirements such as preparation of agendas, meeting notices, and recording minutes. They can also ensure meetings are compliant with relevant legislated protocols, co-ordinate pre-meeting voting, facilitate nominations of the committee, act as chairperson, and action resolutions of the owners corporation or strata committee.
One of the many benefits in enlisting a strata manager’s help is access to their database of licensed and insured tradespersons.
They will ensure tradesmen and other contractors are licensed and certified and meet the necessary work, health and safety requirements, before issuing work orders for the repair and maintenance of common property on the instruction of the strata committee or owners corporation.
One of the biggest responsibilities of an owners corporation is ensuring a strata property is compliant with relevant legislative and safety requirements.
Failure to comply can lead to heavy penalties and serious consequences such as loss of life. A strata manager can help with annual fire safety inspections, periodical maintenance and testing of fire apparatus, providing certificates of fire compliance to the local council and relevant state fire department, arranging annual inspections and compliance certificates for air-conditioning towers & cooling systems and lifts, ensure maintenance logs are maintained and that all tradies are Work Place Health & Safety and WorkCover compliant.
General guidance and counsel
A strata manager has a wider industry perspective as well as local expertise. They provide owners corporations with legislation updates and local government changes or initiatives such as savings on energy and water usage.
Changing strata managers
The most common complaints from owners regarding their strata manager is that they don’t respond to communication, are hard to get hold of during emergencies, or ineffective in solving strata issues. If you’re not getting the support you want from your current strata manager, maybe it’s time for a change, however, termination of a strata manager can be a big decision so be sure to analyse the issues at hand before considering a change.
Sometimes, you can fix the problem just by highlighting the issue and opening discuss expectations of turnaround times. If it’s a personality clash, it might be a good idea to talk to the agency and request that a different strata manager is assigned to the strata property.
As like any contract with a fixed end date, you can choose to renew their contract at the end of the contract period or switch your strata managing agency.
Here’s our step-by-step process for changing strata managers:
1. Check your agency agreement
A contract can only be terminated before its expiration date if the strata management company has breached its terms. Most contracts allow a period for the strata manager to mend the breach before the termination procedure can be started. You must follow the terms of the agreement correctly, otherwise the owners corporation might find itself the subject of a lawsuit.
2. Analysis of the issues
Analyse what went wrong with the outgoing strata manager so as not to repeat the same mistakes with the new manager. Keep track of recurring problem areas within the property that may require extra attention from your strata manager and outline what additional support you may need from them in your request for tender.
3. Shortlist other options
Research other agencies and obtain a proposal and pricing from your shortlist of agencies. Check to see whether the new agencies have provided a good explanation of their processes, staff training, customer service charter, and references from similar-sized buildings under their management. Consider their industry accreditation, value-added services being provided alongside core management and discuss other customisable solutions that may suit your property.
4. Call a meeting of the owners corporation
You will need the agreement the owner corporation by way of ordinary resolution to change strata managers. Usually, this is done at an AGM. If you are changing strata management companies at the expiration of a contract, the timing will coincide with the AGM anyway. If you are terminating due to breach, and the AGM is a long way away, you may choose to call a special general meeting.
5. Sign the paperwork
Once the owners corporation has passed the motions to terminate the original contract and appoint a new manager, you can sign the contract with the new strata management company. You should also provide formal notice to the current strata manager.
6. Ensure a smooth handover
Once the outgoing strata manager has been formally advised of the process and who the incoming strata manager is, they will start the handover. This means handing over all important records and documents, including a roll of owners and all the financials. It would be wise for a nominated member of the strata committee to ensure that this is done properly. Ask the incoming strata manager for a list of records they need.