The top 10 most common strata myths
Keep reading to learn the truth behind these common myths and incorrect assumptions
Ever read something about strata living online and wondered whether the information is true or just a myth? To give you a helping hand, we’ve put together a list of the most common myths about strata and separated fact from fiction.
Disclaimer: While we use the term strata throughout this article to simplify this information, this term is generally referred to as body corporate in Queensland and owners corporation in Victoria.Be honest, have you fallen victim to one (or more) of the strata myths? Have a read of all 10 most common strata myths to get the facts and dispel any misconceptions:
- Myth: Strata is just another word for strata management
- Myth: Strata managers decide how a property is run
- Myth: My levies go to my strata manager
- Myth: My strata manager is responsible for carrying out repairs and maintenance
- Myth: You can choose not to be involved in the owners corporation
- Myth: You save money with self-managed strata
- Myth: Smoking is banned in strata communities
- Myth: No pets are allowed in strata buildings
- Myth: By-laws cannot be changed
- Myth: Proxy voting is not allowed in general meetings
Myth: Strata is just another word for strata management
Fact: The word “strata” refers to a specific type of land title that allows a large property to be divided into smaller properties called lots or units. The lot owners take shared ownership of the whole space, including the common areas like stairs, foyers and gardens.
Strata management is when the owners contract the property to a management provider such as Body Corporate Services (BCS) to manage the administration and financials on behalf of the owners corporation.
Strata managers decide how a property is run
Fact: The lot owners run a strata property via a committee elected by the owners. This committee is then responsible for the day-to-day administrative tasks and record-keeping. The owners collectively decide whether to contract a strata provider to support the committee.
If a strata manager has been appointed, the committee may decide to delegate administrative and financial functions to them. They can also assist with the coordination of repairs and maintenance and help facilitate tasks, but they’re not the key decision-maker. Only the strata committee and owners corporation can make decisions.
My levies go to my strata manager
Fact: Many people think that strata levies are paid to the strata manager, but that’s not the case. The levies paid by owners go directly to the owners corporation’s trust fund within the administration or capital works account. Your strata manager is considered a service provider, and their service charges are paid from this account.
My strata manager is responsible for carrying out repairs and maintenance
Fact: While a strata manager is not directly responsible for carrying out repairs and maintenance, they can arrange tradies to carry out the work on your behalf. However, they will only do so with the authority and approval of the strata committee.
You can choose not to be involved in the owners corporation
Fact: By owning a lot or unit in a strata property, you are automatically part of the owners’ corporation in NSW and Victoria, and body corporate in Queensland. By being actively involved, you may be able to influence how your property is run and how the levies are spent. This is important, as how the building is maintained can impact the value of the property in the long term.
Myth: You save money with self-managed strata
Fact: While some strata properties are self-managed successfully by their committee, many are not. Owners come and go, making it hard to maintain consistency. Although you won’t pay strata management fees, being self-managed may expose you to risk, which could be more expensive in the long run.
Myth: Smoking is banned
Fact: Most states do not have a blanket ban on smoking on balconies. However, smoke tends to create a nuisance, and potential health risks, for neighbouring apartments. This is why some properties have by-laws banning smoking in certain areas – including balconies. It’s worth checking what the rules are for your property.
Myth: No pets are allowed in strata buildings
Fact: In NSW, it is now illegal to have blanket bans on pets in strata buildings. A pet application is still required to ensure the pet is fit for the space. It cannot be unreasonably refused, and it’s now harder to deny an owner or resident the right to keep a pet at home.
In Queensland and Victoria, you must generally request permission from your body corporate or owners corporation before bringing home a pet.
Myth: By-laws and building rules cannot be changed
Fact: Strata by-laws and building rules are mutually agreed rules for living in a strata property. The owners corporation sets them to encourage harmony and clarify what is permitted and what is not.
If they’re unhelpful, incomplete or outdated, they can be changed. You can change the by-laws or building rules by filing a motion at your Annual General Meeting (AGM) and seeking approval through a majority vote. We recommend getting in touch with a strata solicitor or your strata manager before you do this to clarify how the process works.
Myth: Proxy voting is not allowed in general meetings
Fact: A proxy is a person who represents a voter at a general meeting. As a property owner of a strata property, you can choose a representative to attend and vote at meetings as your proxy, for example, a family member or another committee member. Click here to read more about what you should know regarding proxy voting.
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