What does a strata committee do?
The strata committee is responsible for overseeing that the legislative functions of the owners corporation are being executed. These record keeping, finances and insurance obligations. The committee’s actual functions depend on whether it is self-managed or if there is a strata manager engaged.
Scenario one: If a strata property is self-managed, the committee would need to carry out all tasks of the owners corporation such as issuing levy notices, arranging insurance quotes, preparing financial statements, and keeping records.
Scenario two: If a strata manager is engaged, the committee’s functions becomes less task-related to a management style of leadership to ensure their legal obligations are being fulfilled.If a strata property has enlisted the help of a professional strata manager, these will be 10 main roles and responsibilities of the committee:
- Repairs, replacement and maintenance of common property
- Manage by-laws and building rules
- Managing finances and funds
- Meeting management
- Record keeping
- Securing insurance
- Raising strata levies
- Capital works & building upgrades
- Communicating with owners and residents
- Being your point of contact
Repairs, replacement and maintenance of common property
One of the most important duties of a strata committee is to ensure that common property is properly maintained.
This involves communicating to the strata manager about works that need to be undertaken, ensuring all tradespeople working on common property are licensed and insured, ensuring that major works have been accounted for financially and scheduled in the appropriate timeframe before a safety issue occurs.
While the strata committee does their bit to manage common property, it is also the responsibility of all owners to support them by reporting damage and safety concerns.
Manage by-laws and building rules
The strata committee’s role in administering by-laws or building rules can be put into two categories: 1) breaches and 2) approvals.
Complaints about by-law or building rule breaches should be first directed to the strata committee who then decides whether to issue a Notice to Comply (known as a Contravention Notice in Queensland and a Breach Notice in Victoria) or another course of action.
The strata committee is also responsible for reviewing applications for approvals that are required from a by-law such as for a resident to keep a pet, or to make alterations to their property that affect common property such as air conditioning installation.
The strata committee does not have the power to pass new, or alter existing by-laws or building rules, but may propose a new by-law or an amendment to an existing one and include it as a motion for a general meeting for consideration of all owners.
Managing finances and funds
It is the responsibilities of an owners corporation to ensure their strata property is meeting its financial obligations, and while duties such as preparation of budgets, financial statements, and notifying owners about contributions is generally done by a strata manager, the owners corporation is still responsible for the actions of the manager.
This is where the treasurer’s role comes into play. It is their role to ensure the financial obligations of a strata property have been executed correctly, that there are adequate funds to cover expenditure, and that the financial records are made available to owners. The treasurer should review each invoice and check its accuracy before approving the payment.
The committee has a spending limit. Before they spend anything, they should ensure that money is formally included and available in the budget. If there aren’t enough funds, the committee can call a general meeting to change the budget or raise a special levy.
Meeting procedures are a key part of the committee’s role. This includes organising, conducting, recording and adjourning meetings as necessary.
The secretary informs owners of upcoming meetings in advance by putting up notices on the notice board, handing in the notices in person or delivering notices via email or post (with the assistance of the strata manager). The secretary is also responsible for preparing the minutes of the meeting, collating the action items, sharing reports and maintaining records.
If a strata property has delegated responsibilities to a professional strata manager, the storing of records is done by the strata manager on their electronic document management system.
The strata committee, however, plays a pivotal role to ensure record keeping is accurate. This includes; ensuring that agendas and minutes are correct and that the information required to be kept by legislation is passed onto the strata manager. Information includes; invoices, receipts and expenditure, correspondence received or sent to the owners corporation, meeting minutes, notices of meetings, proxies, defect or engineer’s reports, any notices or orders given to the owners corporation, and relevant insurance information. It is also the committee’s role to actively keep on top of the strata roll to make sure it is up to date.
6. Securing insurance
While the strata manager will arrange quotations from brokers for the required insurances for common property, it is the responsibility of the strata committee to nominate the sum insured, ensure it provides adequate coverage and decide if additional insurances are required.
Raising strata levies
If a professional strata manager has been engaged, they will develop a budget forecast for the owners corporation for consideration for the upcoming year. This budget determines the levies.
The strata committee should receive a draft budget for review prior to it going out to all owners in the meeting agenda. It is the committee’s role to review the proposed budget and ensure it is sufficient to cover operational and capital expenses.
Capital works & building upgrades
Part of the strata committee’s role is to review the capital works or maintenance plan and schedule in the required works ensuring there is enough budget allocated for the works to take place.
This may involve meeting with, and engaging the appropriate consultants to review the condition of the building and its assets, creating a scope of works, meeting with tradespeople, obtaining quotations, applying for necessary permits or Development Applications, informing residents of works, and ensuring the works carried out following work, health and safety standards.
Communicating with owners and residents
Good communication makes a huge difference to strata community living – there’s nothing like an open discussion to help turn things around. In meetings, your committee is responsible for encouraging conversations and promoting balanced discussions to lead to a consensus.
When there are disagreements, they’re responsible for mediating matters and building rapport so that owners are heard and fairly treated. The committee is responsible for making sure all owners are aware of the by-laws or building rules and abiding by them.
Being your point of contact
As representatives for the owners corporation, it is the strata committee’s role to be the point of contact for other owners and building residents. The strata committee should be able to answer strata-related questions regarding by-laws or building rules, finances, access to information, and be ready to mediate discussions between neighbours.