COVID-19: minimise your financial stress
Proactive financial management can make a big difference to how you manage your strata property. Here are a few options to help you through these uncertain times if you find yourselves in financial hardship.
The best option – or combination of options, for your strata property will vary depending on your circumstance. Your strata manager is equipped to assist you.
1. Build a cashflow forecast
The committee may not be able to control revenue, but you can revise expenditure and defer non-essential and discretionary spending. A cashflow forecast should be prepared to assess cashflow and any impact from the current environment. We have developed a tool to enable your strata manager to assist you with this.
Consideration can also be given for the use of funds in investment accounts. Most banks are offering a removal of break costs for accessing funds from term deposits. The 31-day notice period is still required to access funds so early thought should be given to this.
2. Reconsider or redetermine future levies
The owners corporation can revisit the current budget under which the levies were determined at the last AGM. Items of proposed expenditure could be re-considered on the criteria of whether they are essential and/or are a legal requirement. A general meeting could then be held to reset the levies in accordance with a revised budget.
3. Transfer and use of money between funds
New South Wales
The legislation allows for money in your capital works fund that’s typically used for things such as painting, to be used towards expenditure normally paid for from the administrative fund.
A committee can transfer or loan money between the administrative and capital works funds to meet upcoming expenditure of administrative or capitals works related items. There are some requirements around the determination of repayment within 90 days which must be considered when the funds are loaned from one account to the other.
The legislation provides that monies in your maintenance fund for painting and replacement capital items etc. can be used for recurrent expenditure normally paid from the administrative fund – where the appropriate special resolution has been passed by the owners corporation.
4. Options for insurance premium payments
Many properties pay their insurance premiums for a year in one large sum. To provide greater cashflow, your strata manager can talk to your broker or insurance company about payment of your premium in lesser instalments. Most insurers do not charge an additional cost for such an arrangement.
Premium funding can also be explored through your insurance broker as another means to address cashflow. Our insurance partner, BCB, has enabled more flexible premium funding arrangements to spread the annual insurance premium into monthly payments. They are also waiving the usual commission and fees for arranging funding. This must be approved at a general meeting.
5. Consider a strata loan
New South Wales and Queensland
The committee may wish to evaluate external liquidity options via a strata loan to assist with meeting its expenditure requirements through this period, whether it be for capital works items or to supplement or replace levy contributions to make the scheme more financially resilient and to provide flexibility.
For capital expenditure where you have designated funding within a capital fund, you can choose to retain those funds for general administrative expenditure and use a loan facility to help with expenditure that may have been otherwise met by levies.
Additionally, there may be the ability via financial institutions or financial intermediaries to establish a loan facility to supplement or replace a quarterly levy and to make the scheme more financially resilient. These facilities may fund up to 12 months budgetary requirements and provide some level of flexibility. We can assist with further information and options on suitable products available from our financial partners.
6. Defer capital or major works where necessary
The committee can seek to defer non-essential major works to alleviate financial pressure on owners. The committee must however continue to observe their obligations to repair and maintain common property, as well as observe any contractual obligations already in place.
7. How you can help your owners
Consider payment plans
To ensure easy access to financial support, we have developed an online payment plan to guide those who are suffering financial hardship through this time. Please visit the “For owners” menu tab on the website of your branch and click on “Payment plan for levies and fees”. In addition, our managers are here to support you and are available for a conversation.
Consider removing or waiving interest on late levies
Legislation sets out the default rate of 10% interest on late levies. However, the interest can be removed or waived by the owners corporation either generally or in a particular case.
Note: The funds belong to the owners corporation. The managing agent cannot make decisions regarding the removal of interest, acceptance of payment plans, and any amendments to budgeted contributions. These items require resolution of the committee.
We’re here to help you
Our strata managers are here to help you and your committee during these stressful times. By being proactive and having honest conversations, together we can ensure your investment and home is protected and well cared for.
Note: We are not in the position to provide health, legal or financial advice and urge you to keep up to-date with the communication provided by the Australian Government. If you require additional financial assistance, we recommend visiting the Department of Social Services webpage to see if you are eligible for COVID-19 financial relief.