2. Health and safety
While there are many benefits to community living, this doesn’t mean owners and residents are immune from risks, especially regarding health and safety. Thankfully, such risks can be managed quite easily by an organised and informed committee with the help of an experienced strata manager.
Owners corporations, and body corporates are responsible for maintaining safe common areas for all residents, visitors and workers alike. Also, the Work Health and Safety Act (or Occupational Health and Safety Act in Victoria) may come into play if a worker — such as a cleaner, gardener or building manager — is injured on the property.
In this light, a property’s committee needs to prioritise annual risk assessments of all common property areas and minimise any arising risks.
Things you may check include:
- If previously identified trip hazards are removed or fixed.
- If signage advising owners and residents of potential hazards is up to date.
- If shared amenities such as pools and gyms are regularly maintained.
- If incidents on the property are reported, logged and filed appropriately.
- If common property repairs have been carried out according to legislated guidelines.
- If those who perform services on the property can carry out their work safely.
Completing these annual tasks may help your owners corporation and strata committee avoid dealing with health and safety incidents in the long run. Having the entire strata committee complete public liability and health and safety training may also be beneficial.
Suppose this seems overwhelming, or your strata committee needs guidance on what exactly needs to be done. In that case, you may find services such as PICA Group’s Community Health & Safety service helpful. This service provides access to expert consultants and best practice procedures, keeps committees up-to-date about relevant legislations, helps committees report, file and log incidents, and more.
3. Capital works plan, sinking fund forecast or maintenance plan
A capital works plan, also known as a sinking fund forecast or maintenance plan, is a 10-year action plan for maintaining your strata property. This includes everything from the paint and flooring in common property areas to fire safety equipment and shared facilities. This plan is essential to help a property’s strata committee to plan maintenance and repair work over time. Most importantly, the plan will help your owners corporation, body corporate or strata committee plan the funds required for repairs and maintenance. It also may provide an indication of whether a special levy would be required to replenish the capital works, sinking or maintenance funds in the future.
Much can change in a year — trees may deteriorate, unexpected cracks may form, and shared facilities might show signs of general wear and tear. It’s a good idea to add a yearly a review of your capital works plan, sinking fund or maintenance plan to the list of checks and tasks an owners corporation, body corporate or strata committee should complete.
Perhaps your committee can complete a walk-through of the entire property as part of a committee meeting to proactively seek out areas that need repair or maintenance. This may also be an excellent opportunity to go through repairs and maintenance tasks completed during the previous 12 months to see if further work is needed. A facilities management provider, such as Building Facilities Management Services (BFMS) located in NSW, may also help your committee prepare or update a capital works or maintenance plan.
Organising strata insurance is among the most critical tasks a strata committee will work on during each 12-month period. As we all know, things tend to go wrong when we least expect it. This is why it’s essential to have an adequate strata insurance policy like CommunitySure to cover a strata property’s buildings, common property and common area contents. Your strata insurance should have a liability cover component, which is mandatory in Australia.
Like personal insurance policies such as private healthcare and car insurance, researching your options and obtaining new quotes every year is wise. That way, you can see if your policy is competitive, covers all necessary areas, and provides good value for money.
When you’re researching insurance options, take the time to consider any specific factors that may affect your strata property. For example, if your property is in a fire or flood-prone area, it may be best to research insurance providers who specialise in this. Similarly, if your strata property features non-compliant cladding, you may need to disclose this fact upfront.
5. Annual Budget
An annual budget is a document that lists all foreseeable expenses a strata property will need to account for within a 12-month period, and it is among the most important of all the checks and tasks a strata committee should complete. Generally, the strata scheme budget is also used to set the levies payable for owners for the year or period ahead. The owners corporation, body corporate or strata committee will work with the strata management provider to determine the best timing to review the end-of-year accounts and prepare the budget to meet the required timelines across each state.
An experienced strata management provider may be able to help finalise your annual budget by guiding you on what needs to be included. We recommend completing this task before your strata property’s Annual General Meeting (AGM) notice is sent out to be included in the documentation and approved at the AGM.
Remember to consider your updated capital works plan, sinking fund forecast or maintenance plan when finalising your budget! You should also make sure to include the following:
- Regular maintenance costs (e.g. gardener’s fees, cleaner’s fees)
- Safety inspection costs (e.g. fire safety inspector’s fees)
- Special repairs and maintenance work scheduled for the next 12-month period
- Common property bills (e.g. electricity, gas, water, sewerage, rubbish collection)
The finalised budget will help the owners corporation determine whether strata levies can be maintained at the current rate or should be raised.
6. Annual General Meeting (AGM)
Each owners corporation must have one AGM each year. All lot owners can attend this meeting and vote on matters that arise.
Each property’s strata committee secretary should organise this meeting and provide all lot owners with a meeting agenda, a list of motions, and any other necessary details well before the AGM and in line with the required timelines in each state’s strata legislation.
Preparing your strata property’s fire safety checks, health and safety plan, capital work plan, insurance research, and annual budget before the AGM is ideal, as each item can be put to the entire owners corporation for review and approval.
While this list of checks and tasks a strata committee should complete only details the most critical jobs, checking off each item every 12 months may help your strata committee stay on top of essential responsibilities and remain compliant for your term.
Having set up the very first strata scheme in Australia in 1948, we’ve come a long way in our knowledge and experience across various 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. If you would like a consultation to review your by-laws, our Kemps Petersons Legal team can assist. Or to find out more about the services we offer, click here for a free strata assessment.