Owners corporation versus a strata committee

Here are the main differences between an owners corporation and a strata committee, as well as their responsibilities: 

  1. Owners corporation (or body corporate)
  2. Strata committee

What is an owners corporation (or body corporate)?

An owners corporation also known as a body corporate is made up of all lot owners in a strata property.

Collectively the owners corporation is responsible to carry out tasks required under relevant laws including the maintenance of common property, infrastructure, and shared amenities. If you buy into a strata title property, as a lot owner you automatically become a member of the owners corporation. You cannot ‘opt out’ from the obligations that go hand in hand with being an owner.

The key responsibilities of the owners corporation include:

  • Overseeing and managing maintenance and repairs of common property
  • Managing the finances and funds
  • Issuing fee notices to owners
  • Keeping of books and preparing financial statements of accounts
  • Managing the building compliance and insurance requirements for the common property
  • Keeping records and accounts of all strata property matters
  • Appointing a strata committee
  • Ensuring the by-laws or building rules are in line with the state law and all owners and residents are given a copy so they’re aware of their rights, responsibilities and limitations.

What is a strata committee?

A strata committee represents the interests of the collective of owners (the owners corporation) and carry out certain decisions on their behalf.

Partnering with the strata and/or building manager, they work together as a team to ensure the smooth running of a strata property.

The committee’s goals and activities must be aligned with the requirements of the owners corporation, as well as the state and federal laws.

The strata committee is generally the first point of contact for individual owners if they have a strata related matter they wish to discuss. Individual owners should also bring common property maintenance matters to the attention of the strata committee so the appropriate process can be followed to carry out repairs and maintenance.

A strata committee’s key responsibilities include:

  • Overseeing the day-to-day management and maintenance of common property
  • Making certain decisions, within their powers, on behalf of the owners corporation
  • Reviewing owner requests such as pet applications, flooring applications
  • Attending to by-law (or rule) breaches
  • Appointing the office bearers to carry out specific tasks as outlined by the law
  • Running meetings, organising agendas and minutes, and sharing reports
  • Coordinating functions with the strata manager and building manager
  • Reviewing financial information and approving invoices.

Common decisions of a strata committee:

  • What work gets done to the common property and when
  • Additional agenda items for discussion at general meetings
  • What common property improvements should be proposed for the next meeting
  • Proposed new by-laws or building rules
  • Changes to, or repeals to existing by-laws and building rules
  • If a renovation to a lot that requires approval, and gets the owners corporation consent and any restrictions that goes along with the consent
  • If an owner’s Development Application has the owners corporation seal of approval
  • To act on a by-law or building rule breach such as a noisy parties or parking violations
  • The degree to which common property is kept clean i.e. number of cleans per week, degree of landscaping per month
  • If an apartment renovation is approved with appropriate sound-proof flooring
  • If a resident’s pet application is allowed.

Getting the most out of your strata committee

To ensure a strata committee provides a timely response to owners, they should adopt a process which sets out the governance for their decision-making process:

  • Outline a timeframe in which the committee acknowledges an application has been received
  • If the application has been submitted without enough information to decide, the committee should have a process and timeframe in place for the request of more information
  • Make it known that the application may be refused if the applicant does not provide the necessary information within a reasonable time
  • Set a deadline for when a final decision is to be made
  • Provide a process for appeals if applicants wish to appeal a decision.