How to change your strata manager, body corporate or owners corporation
If you’re a lot owner in a strata property such as an apartment complex, your interests will be represented either by strata management (NSW), body corporate management (QLD), or owners corporation management (VIC), depending on which state your strata property is located in.
Although there are some minor differences in responsibilities, all three types of management are typically responsible for:
- Managing and maintaining the common property areas of a strata property
- Drafting, updating, amending, and enforcing the by-laws or building rules
- Organising and running strata committee meetings, including an Annual General Meeting (AGM) once a year
- Ensuring that the strata property remains compliant with all state government rules and regulations
- Managing the strata property’s insurances, finances and funds
- Keeping proper strata records such as minutes of meetings, budget costs and an up to date register of lot owners (the strata roll)
- Mediating and resolving any disputes between strata residents as and when they arise
- Issuing notices and collecting strata levies and fees from lot owners
- Appointing a strata committee.
Here we look at how having such management in place can greatly assist in the smooth running of a strata property. We also look at how to go about changing your current strata management provider, if you find it’s not living up to your expectations.
How do strata, body corporate and owners corporation managers help?
A strata committee, body corporate or owners corporation may choose to appoint a manager for all sorts of reasons. They may find that they don’t have the collective time, resources or expertise needed to carry out the complex duties of strata management.
Or, as many communities are doing these days, they may wish to switch from company title to the benefits of strata title; a process that requires expert strata management guidance and advice.
Or they may just want the peace of mind that comes from knowing that their investment is in the hands of experts, who will ensure it remains compliant and continues to grow in value into the future.
Whatever the reason, a good management team can provide as many or as few services as the strata committee and owners corporation requires, including:
Using the latest record-keeping systems and processes for efficient recording, storage, and retrieval of strata documents, including correspondence, forms, notices, minutes, certificates, accounts, contracts, by-laws, and the strata roll.
Organising meetings (including Annual General Meetings), preparing agendas and notices, chairing meetings, recording minutes, ensuring compliance, coordinating voting, and facilitating committee nominations.
Arranging and assisting with annual inspections, maintenance, testing and certification of fire safety equipment, lifts, air-conditioning and cooling systems, maintaining maintenance logs, and ensuring all tradespeople are fully compliant.
Taking care of the various financial duties, such as establishing trust accounts, bank reconciliations, issuing levy notices, debt recovery, audits, preparing tax statements, financial reporting, and compliance monitoring.
Providing access to a database of licensed and insured tradespersons and contractors and issuing work orders on the owners’ request for common property maintenance and repairs.
Informing lot owners of legislation updates and government initiatives and providing guidance on by-laws, mediation rules and legal processes where necessary.
Arranging insurance quotations, paying premiums, preparing insurance claims, and maintaining insurance records.
Reasons to consider switching strata managers
If your current strata manager appears to be struggling with key tasks such as those listed here, it may be time to look at replacing them. Some of the most obvious signs that they may not be up to the job can include:
Late or non-existent meetings
Organising regular strata committee and owners corporation meetings helps to ensure that ongoing strata management needs and tasks are being actively managed. An Annual General Meeting is also required under strata legislation to examine the financial position of the property. If meetings aren’t occurring when they should, this could indicate incompetence or that your property is not a high priority for your strata manager
Strata fees and levies in arrears
Late or unpaid strata fees can have a direct effect on your strata property’s financial health, A high proportion of fees in arrears may be a sign that your strata manager doesn’t have an efficient collection process in place.
Common property maintenance issues
Unaddressed or outstanding maintenance and repair jobs can be accidents (and lawsuits) waiting to happen. If your strata manager is not taking a proactive maintenance approach and dealing with issues in a timely manner, this can be an indication that they are out of their depth.
If you’re having difficulty getting straight answers or accurate financial information from your strata manager, it can be a sign of a lack of resources, out of date technology or that you aren’t a high priority for their finance department.
If your property is missing key deadlines or being penalised for not abiding by strata laws, this could be a sign that your manager is not up to date with the latest strata legislation.
Other signs that your current management company may not have your best interests at heart could include a failure to return your calls promptly, a revolving door of managers or the appointment of juniors to look after your property.
What are the essential skills to look for when hiring a new strata manager?
If you’ve spoken to your fellow strata committee member or owners and agreed that a change is needed, it’s time to consider what qualities you want in your new strata manager.
Firstly, you need to determine what the priorities are for your property (i.e. maintenance, by-laws, levy collection etc.) and then look for a strata management team that specialises in these areas.
Compare strata proposals from a selection of applicants to determine whether what they are offering in terms of included vs additional services represents good value for money.
Then narrow your selection down even further to those managers with qualities such as above-average legislative expertise, modern efficient systems, easy online access to services and responsive, well trained, and motivated staff.
Other important qualities to consider include:
Whether they have the manpower and resources to ensure you receive individualised attention
Whether they are well thought of by their current and previous customers
Whether they are locally based and can provide a timely response to your needs.
What’s included in a standard strata management, body corporate or owners corporation agreement?
Once you’ve shortlisted a handful of preferred managers, you should then ask them to draw up a service agreement for you that covers the terms and conditions of their services. Known as a standard strata management, body corporate or owners corporation agreement, this document typically contains the following sections:
Schedule A – terms and conditions, associated services fees, payment method and review percentage
Schedule B – fees for agreed services
Schedule C – additional fees for services in Schedule F (a set fee or hourly rate)
Schedule D – the percentage that fees will increase each year
Schedule E – disbursement charges such as phone calls, stationery etc. (either a fixed or variable fee)
Schedule F – services included in the agreed fee
Schedule G – additional services incurring a charge in addition to the agreed fee.
The service agreement also covers points such as the manager’s duty of disclosure of associates and commissions, indemnities, transfer, termination, and complaints handling procedure.
How to exit a strata management agreement
If you’re happy with the strata management service agreement provided by your chosen strata manager, then it’s time to set the wheels in motion to make the switch happen. Switching is as easy as following these three simple steps:
- Firstly, you’ll need to share the terms of the agreement with the owners corporation and call for a vote, either at the Annual General Meeting or by calling an Extraordinary General Meeting (EGM)
- If there’s a majority vote in favour of switching to the new management team, you can then go ahead and sign the contract with them
- Finally, you can give notice by providing a copy of the meeting’s minutes to the old and new strata managers, and your new strata manager will then take care of the changeover process on your behalf.
The added advantages of choosing PICA Group
You won’t want to be switching managers again any time soon and have hopefully chosen a new strata manager who offers a vastly superior service to that of your previous one.
At PICA Group, for example, you’ll benefit from the expertise and resources of Australia’s leading property service provider offering:
- Flexible services tailored to your individual property
- Local service with timely response
- Best practice procedures aimed at improving value, sustainability, and community harmony
- Transparent costing and upfront fees.
As part of our strata management package, PICA Group can offer a comprehensive range of services.
Here’s a taste of the benefits we can offer to you and your strata property
Proactive preventative maintenance of strata buildings and common areas
Legal advice and assistance, including by-law drafting, amendments, and updates
Full-service building audits to ensure ongoing compliance
Tools, resources and advice on energy and cost savings and enhancing community livability.
If you choose PICA Group as your strata management team, you’ll also enjoy a range of additional benefits including:
Community Health & Safety – fulfil your duty of care and protect yourself from liability with our 24/7 assistance and resources for reporting and managing hazards, injuries and incidents that occur on your common property.
CommunityHub – an online platform that provides you with round the clock access to all of your property information, including administration, ongoing repair work, levy details, invoices, financial statements and more.
CommunitySure – competitive strata insurance that’s specifically tailored to your property, available exclusively to PICA Group customers and backed by QBE and CHU, Australia’s largest strata insurer.
PICA Group privilege – a range of competitive discounts and exclusive deals for PICA Group customers on a variety of products and services including by-law and building rule drafting and insurance cover.
Ready to switch strata managers and want some expert advice?
If you’ve already spoken with your current strata manager and they don’t seem capable or willing to improve their level of service, then changing strata managers is probably the best decision you could make.
Rather than adding to your stress and concerns, a good strata manager should be relieving the burdens of your strata committee and providing daily support through expert help and guidance.
So, if you’re unhappy with your current manager’s performance and are looking to switch, we can help you at PICA Group.
We offer the expertise and resources of a nationwide network combined with the passion and commitment of a local team focused solely on improving your property’s value and community living experience.
To find out how we can help you switch, just fill in the form on this page and one of our strata professionals will contact you shortly.