Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

(Disclaimer: The information provided in this website is a general guide only and not intended as a substitute for proper legal advice. Seek professional legal advice before taking any action. The company BCS Strata Management disclaims all responsibility and all liability for any expenses, losses, damages and costs which might be incurred as a result of the information provided by the company on this website.)

Some of the frequently asked questions and answers about strata schemes are listed below. Click on the question to read more.

FAQs on General Strata and Strata Schemes

FAQs on Common Property

FAQs on Owners Corporation and by-laws

FAQs on Executive Committee

FAQs on Meetings

FAQs on Meeting procedures

FAQs on Strata Manager

FAQs on Maintenance and Renovations

FAQs on Levies

FAQs on Disputes

 

FAQs on General Strata and Strata Schemes

What is a strata scheme?

A strata scheme is a system of multiple ownership of a building or collection of buildings. Each owner owns a portion (called a 'lot'), which is usually an apartment or townhouse, but every owner shares ownership of any common property (e.g. foyers, driveways, gardens) if it is indicated on the title.

The multiple ownerships are combined in a legal entity called the owners corporation.

The owners corporation is responsible for the good management of the strata scheme. All owners can vote on management decisions at an Annual General Meeting (AGM), but decisions are usually made on behalf of the owners corporation by an executive committee of owners who are elected at the AGM.

Some strata schemes also manage the day-to-day financial, maintenance, and other administrative duties themselves, but given these are complex, most choose to use the services of a professional strata manager.

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If I buy into a strata scheme building do I automatically become part of the owners corporation?

You cannot buy into a strata scheme without buying into the owners corporation. The two elements of your property rights are separate but not separable.

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What exactly do I own in a strata scheme?
Generally speaking all you own in a unit is the air space and its contents, including internal walls and fixtures. Everything else – outside walls and the roof, hallways, stairs, foyers, lifts, gardens, carparks etc etc — is collectively owned by all of the owners in equal shares as tenants in common.

How much say do I have in a strata scheme?
Your interest and voting rights (at general meetings of the owners corporation), which are known as lot entitlements, will be spelt out either in the original strata plan for the building or, in some states, by a formula based on market value. These should be spelt out in your purchase documentation and you should take the time to understand them.

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What costs are involved in owning a strata apartment and how are the costs set? Does everybody pay the same amount?
Strata owners are levied by the owners corporation to cover many of the expenses faced by all home owners, such as council charges, insurance, cleaning, general maintenance and utilities such as power and water. It should also include an amount to be saved for long-term expenses as the building ages, such as painting, tiling, plumbing, carpet, plant and equipment, etc for the Sinking Fund. The amount is usually calculated in proportion to an owners lot entitlement as it relates to the total number of lot entitlements in the strata scheme.

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If I buy into a strata scheme building what are my obligations, apart from costs? What are my rights?
You must pay your levies and comply with the scheme’s by-laws, which can cover everything from renovations to pets. You have the right to contribute to your community's decision making, to stand for a position on your committee and generally be heard. As an owner, you also have a share of an unlimited liability for anything that goes wrong, which is why strata insurance is compulsory in every state and territory.

How do I get a Section 109 Certificate?
If you are an owner, or you have an owner’s, mortgagee’s or covenant chargee’s written permission, you may write to the owners corporation and ask for a Certificate under Section 109 NSW. The Treasurer of the owners corporation must give the certificate under owners corporation seal. The certificate must be on the set form used in the Strata Scheme Management Regulation 2010 – Schedule 8. There is a fee payable. A Section 109 Certificate will give information about the strata scheme including:

  1. the names and addresses of the executive committee members, the strata manager and caretaker (if applicable)
  2. the levies to be paid by the owners
  3. any outstanding levies
  4. the address where the records and financial statements can be viewed, and any special by-laws made by the owners corporation in the past two years.

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Will I need to attend regular meetings? What happens if I do not live in the property, or live close by, or live in another state or country?
It's in everyone's interests to be actively involved in your strata scheme. If you can't attend a general meeting of the owners corporation in person, you can appoint a proxy to vote in your place.

If there is something I want addressed, can I call for a meeting, regardless of whether the strata scheme is due for one?
First talk to your strata manager or committee members. The scheme’s governing legislation will include specific provisions on calling meetings but it’s not something to be done lightly as it can inconvenience your neighbours. If it’s not urgent, wait for the next annual general meeting (AGM).

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In what sort of instances will I need to seek permission or approval from the owners corporation?
This depends upon your relevant state or territory legislation. Generally speaking, you will need the approval of the owners corporation when you intend to make significant structural alterations to your lot, or any alterations to any part of the common property. You will also need the approval of the owners corporation if you plan on engaging activity that contravenes your scheme’s by-laws — for example, the keeping of a pet may be prohibited. You should consult your by-laws to determine whether approval is necessary.

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Does majority rule or does each and every member of the strata scheme need to agree to any proposals?
It depends on the type of decision and the legislation in your state or territory – routine matters are usually delegated to committees and/or a professional strata manager. Levies and annual budgets are usually approved by general meetings and spending outside those budgets may also require a general meeting. Major decisions such as changing by-laws can require a three-quarters majority of owners, depending on state/territory legislation.

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What happens if I have a disagreement with the owners corporation? What can I do?
If you are unhappy with the way the rules are being applied you can talk to a committee member, raise it at a general meeting or contact for advice the government authority responsible for regulating strata issues in your state or territory. See Useful Links page here.

What is strata regulations and laws for New South Wales?
NSW have enacted laws and regulations with a wide variety of terminology, definitions and detailed rules under the Strata Schemes Management Act 1996. NSW Fair Trading administers the Strata Schemes Management Act 1996, which sets out a framework for the management of strata schemes by their owners and establishes a dispute resolution process. Download Fair Trading's Strata living booklet (PDF size: 505kb)

See Legislation Links here.

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What is a strata report and how important is it to organise one before committing to a purchase?
In a nutshell, strata reports provide details of the collective aspects of your prospective purchase. This should include information on levies, by-laws and lot entitlements, details of funds held for short and long term maintenance and minutes of meetings which might point to future costs. It is vital that you familiarise yourself with these before committing to any purchase to avoid nasty surprises later on.

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FAQs on Common Property

The major difference between owning a house and owning a unit or apartment (known as a ‘lot’) in a strata scheme, is that the external walls, the floor and roof do not usually belong to the lot owner. These areas are usually common property and generally the responsibility of the owners corporation.

Who is responsible for pruning trees on the property?

If the trees are common property, it is the owners corporation’s responsibility. If the trees are part of your lot – you are responsible, as the owner.

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I want to use the garden area outside my unit just for myself, can I do this?

If it is part of your lot, yes. If it is common property, you will need to get the permission of the owners corporation. This usually requires an exclusive use by-law to be passed by special resolution (75% of members of the owners corporation have to vote for it) at a general meeting.

Can I do anything I like to my backyard?

If your backyard is part of your lot, you can do anything as long as it doesn’t breach by-laws, for example, you must not damage common property or create disturbing noise.

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I want to park in a section of the driveway that’s common property. Can I get permission to do this?

You need to send a written request to the secretary or strata manager. Permission should then be voted on at a general or executive committee meeting.


I want to carry out renovations. What should I do?
 Legislation for renovations differs in every state. However, there are some basic principals you should adhere to so that your renovation does not run into any problems with the owners corporation, and your community. They are: know the laws, understand what is yours and what is common property, and seek permission. Naturally all renovations must comply with building regulations. If your renovation involves major demolition and wall rearrangements, a structural integrity assessment of your building may also be required. You should familiarise yourself with the relevant strata legislation for your state or territory, your plan of subdivision, and also contract your local council’s planning department to determine their approval requirements.

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Can I do my own repairs to common property?

Only if you have the permission of the owners corporation. If common property needs repair or maintenance, the owners corporation should undertake that work, not an individual owner.

Who is responsible for looking after the wheelie bins?

The owners (or residents) are responsible for putting their own bins out, bringing them in, and keeping them clean. The owners corporation usually owns the bins.

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Do I have to insure the contents of my strata unit?

While there is no obligation to do so, it is highly recommended that you take out adequate insurance on the contents of your unit. The insurance that the owners corporation organises covers the structure of the building and any fixtures inside lots (for example, sinks, baths, shower trays).

However other contents such as your furniture, electrical appliances, curtains and carpets would not be covered. Owners can suffer major loss if their personal property is not insured in the event of a fire or through water damage. In addition, contents insurance usually covers your paint finishes on walls and ceilings.

Will Home and Contents insurance cover items lost or stolen on common property?
Only the home owner's home and contents insurer can accept or deny such a claim. An owners corporation has the option to take out cover for property that belongs only to the owners corporation, i.e. not the personal possessions of each of its owners. If a claim was made against the owners corporation in such circumstances, the owners corporation would not directly be in a position to deny or accept a claim, but rather would refer the claim on to their insurers for consideration.

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FAQs on Owners Corporation and by-laws

The owners corporation is made up of all the owners in the strata scheme. By-laws are rules made or changed to meet the needs of all owners and to assist with the running of the strata scheme.

What if I do not want to be part of the owner’s corporation. Can I manage my unit myself?

All owners are always members of the owners corporation. They have voting rights and obligations to pay levies and comply with by-laws. Owners cannot ‘resign’ from the owners corporation. However you are free to manage your unit as you see fit. You can enter into a contract with a managing agent or caretaker to manage your unit, if you wish.

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Can I keep an animal in my unit?
Permission must first be obtained from the Owners Corporation before keeping an animal in your unit.  It will depend on the by-laws for your scheme as well as the type and size of the animal. NSW strata communities are governed by the Strata Schemes Management Act 1996.  The Act includes a model by-law regarding the keeping of animals as follows:

Schedule 1 – By-laws "16  Keeping of animals

  1. Subject to section 49 (4), an owner or occupier of a lot must not, without the approval in writing of the owners corporation, keep any animal on the lot or the common property.
  2. The owners corporation must not unreasonably withhold its approval of the keeping of an animal on a lot or the common property."

This model by-law means that a resident must have permission in writing from their owners corporation to keep an animal, and the owners corporation can’t unreasonably refuse permission. An owners corporation can choose to adopt this model by-law or they can create their own by-law.

This means that in NSW by-laws can vary widely – from accepting pets without the need for approval through to not permitting pets at all. If your by-law allows for pets with the approval of the owners corporation, then you should make a written request to the owners corporation and include any information to support your request, such as a description of the pet and a description of how the pet will be responsibly managed.

NSW strata by-laws are subject to section 49(4) of the Strata Titles Act which states that by-laws cannot prohibit or prevent the keeping or use of a guide or hearing dog on a lot or common property.

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PROPOSED NSW LEGISLATION CHANGES

NSW strata legislation is currently under review with new strata laws expected to be introduced in 2014. The NSW Fair Trading Minister has confirmed that changes to state legislation will include default by-laws altered so that pets will be allowed, subject to 'reasonable' approvals and conditions set by Executive Committees. The new legislation won't be retrospective, so if an existing strata scheme has a by-law that bans pets the legislative change won’t affect it; equally, if an existing strata scheme wishes to allow pets it will still need to vote such a by-law in. If a new strata scheme wishes to ban pets (with the exception of guide or hearing dogs) it will still be able to by introducing such a by-law. A 75 percent vote of owners is required to introduce or change a by-law.

Someone is making a lot of noise and its disturbing my sleep. How do I get them to stop?

The best approach is to try to resolve the problem yourself, so talk to the person first. If that doesn’t work or, if you feel intimidated, you have two choices. You can ask the owners corporation to issue them with a Notice to Comply with a By-Law, then seek a fine if they keep breaching. Or you can apply for mediation through Fair Trading to have a mediator assist you to discuss the issue with them.

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Is it a legal requirement to have a noticeboard?

Only if it is required in your by-laws. If the owners corporation does not have a noticeboard it must send all meeting and other notices to each owner directly.

My neighbour’s boyfriend is parking his car in the visitors’ parking space every night, taking up the space. Is he really a visitor?

That is a matter for the owners corporation to decide at a meeting.

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Our by-laws don’t deal with things I think are important. What can I do?

You can draft your own by-law and put it on the agenda for the next general meeting. It requires a special resolution – 75% or more to vote in favour. Once it is passed, the by-law must be registered with the Land & Property Management Authority, then it is an enforceable by-law that must be obeyed. You may want to get assistance from your managing agent or a solicitor.

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FAQs on Executive Committee

What is an executive committee?
The administration of an owners corporation may be undertaken on behalf of all the lot owners by a committee. This consists of a group of owners elected at each Annual General Meeting who represent all the lot owners of the strata scheme, and is charged with making decisions on all matters which confront the owners corporation. These include the control, maintenance and repair of the common property. The committee also has the responsibility of enforcing the by-laws, and has the ability to make new ones. Depending on the state or territory, the committee is called an executive committee, managing committee, committee of management, the committee, or council.

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What responsibilities do the members of the executive have?
General duties of the executive committee members include:

  • Attending all the committee meetings. These meetings are called as required and are usually quarterly.
  • Reading the meeting notices prior to attending the
  • Attending to various jobs (e.g. obtaining quotes for painting or gardening)

As representatives of all owners corporation, not just themselves, committee members must be selfless in the way they go about their duties. They must take a long-term view to ensure their management decisions have the most beneficial long-term impact on the owners corporation. They must also disqualify themselves from voting on any issue where they have a direct pecuniary financial interest. Generally, committee members are not entitled to payments for their services nor to reimburse their expenses unless such a payment is approved by ordinary resolution at a general meeting.

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Must a strata scheme have a committee?
Yes, except in South Australia and Tasmania where it is optional, and in Victoria where it is optional if there are 12 lots or less.

How do I join the owners committee?
By attending the Annual General Meeting where you can be voted in. All owners corporation committees must hold an annual meeting which is open to all lot owners.

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Can I choose not to be part of the committee?
Positions on the committee are obtained through election at the Annual Meeting of lot owners. You don't have to nominate yourself for a position. You also don’t have to attend the meeting. However, given you are a part owner, it is in your best interests to participate as much as possible.

I live in a strata apartment/townhouse.  How do find out who manages it so I can contact them?
A strata scheme may be either managed by a professional strata manager or self managed.

  • If managed by a strata manager — they implement the decisions of the owners corporation, which consists of all the lot owners. The decisions are usually made on their behalf by a committee (a group of elected owners, or their proxies). However, some small strata schemes may not have a committee. In such cases, decisions are typically made by all owners, with one or more elected owners performing the duties of Chairperson, Treasurer and Secretary.
  • If self-managed — this is usually through a committee of elected owners, working on behalf of the owners corporation. However, as previously mentioned, some small strata schemes may not have a committee, with the management decisions typically made by all owners, with one or more elected owners performing the administrative duties.

If the strata scheme is managed by a strata manager (who may be either a self-employed person, or someone who works for a strata management company), their name, their company and contact details will be on the minutes of the committee meetings. If you are a lot owner you must be sent these, and a copy of the minutes will be also attached to Contract of Sale of your lot. If you have any issues with your strata scheme the strata manager should be your first point of contact.

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How do I find out who the members of the management committee are, and who the Chairperson and Treasurer are?
Their names will be in the committee meeting minutes.

How do I contact the owners corporation directly?
All owners corporations are required to keep a letterbox and/or a sign displaying their current contact details.

How do I obtain the phone number/email address/postal address of members of the committee?
Due to privacy laws you only have the legal right to obtain the postal address of lot owners, which you can request from the strata manager, or if the scheme is self-managed, the committee.

Records of the committee (which include the postal addresses of lot owners) must be made available for inspection by lot owners. If the strata scheme is managed by a strata manager, the committee (not the lot owner) may be charged a supervisory fee by the strata manager for arranging this. That’s because they need to supervise the viewing to ensure privacy laws aren’t breached in terms of allowing you to view the email addresses and phone numbers of other lot owners without their permission.

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I don’t know what’s going on with the management of our block. How do I get more information?
Read the minutes of the committee meetings. You can also ask questions of the strata manager if there is one.

What if we need to remove committee members?
Lot owners can remove a committee, or committee member, by ordinary resolution at a general meeting. The executive committee member can resign, otherwise that person’s position can be terminated by a special resolution (where 75% vote in favour) at a general meeting.

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FAQs on Meetings

The Strata Schemes Management Act 1996 sets out how meetings are called, who can attend and vote, how they are to be run and how decisions are made.

I am an owner – what meetings do I have to go to?

While it is not compulsory for any lot owner to attend owners corporation meetings, a strata scheme operates better if those concerned take an interest in its affairs. There would usually be several meetings of the owners corporation a year, however the annual meeting, when levies are set for the coming year and the executive committee is elected, is the only meeting required to be held by law. It is helpful if people are willing to make themselves available for election to the executive committee.

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I am a tenant – do I have to go to any meetings?

Tenants are not required to attend meetings and do not have voting rights. An owner could choose to give their tenant a proxy vote on the owner’s behalf.

How do I get to have a say in the meetings?

In order to speak and vote at meetings you need to be an owner. Your name needs to be on the Strata Roll and you also need to be up to date with payment of levies.

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We discussed repairs to the garages at the last meeting and I thought we had made a decision, but then I got the minutes and it had been left out. What should I do?

Tell the secretary or your strata manager. The minutes should then be amended. If they are not, the matter should be raised at the next meeting. If it remains unresolved, you can apply for mediation through Fair Trading to settle the matter.

How many meetings should we have a year?

Each year the owners corporation must have one annual general meeting and also one executive committee meeting to appoint office bearers. Other meetings can be held as the need arises.

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What can we do about people who refuse to attend meetings?

Encourage owners to get involved in the management of their scheme. However there is no requirement for them to attend and they can choose to stay uninvolved if they wish.

Is there a deadline for providing minutes?

General meeting minutes must be sent out with the notice of the next general meeting if not issued sooner. Executive committee minutes must be placed on the noticeboard, or sent to all owners if there is no noticeboard, within 7 days.

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FAQs on Meeting procedures

When can I use a proxy to have my say?

A proxy is where you authorise someone else to vote on your behalf when you are unable or choose not to attend a meeting.

Download the prescribed proxy form here.

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Are there any circumstances when I cannot ask someone to act as a proxy for me?

You will not be able to use a proxy if your name is not on the strata roll or if your levies are not paid in full.

We spend half the meeting talking about a matter that was not even on the agenda and then people voted on it. Is this OK?

Only matters on the agenda can be voted on and resolved. Matters not on the agenda may be discussed, but would need to be put on the agenda for the next meeting for the matter to be voted on.

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I asked the secretary to put an issue about parking on the agenda of the general meeting but it was not included. What should I do?

Seek to raise it at the meeting and ask again to put the motion on the agenda for the next meeting. Alternatively lodge an application for mediation through Fair Trading to resolve the matter.

What is the difference between a special resolution and a unanimous resolution?

Both are votes required for certain motions at general meetings (not at executive committee meetings). A special resolution is where there must be at least 75% of owners in favour of the motion, based on unit entitlement. A unanimous resolution is where everyone votes for the motion.

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Does the chairperson have the deciding (casting) vote at any meetings?

No, there are no deciding votes at general meetings (includes AGM) or executive committee meetings.

Do we need a quorum to hold a meeting?

Yes. A quorum for a general meeting is 25% of people entitled to vote or owners who hold 25% or more of unit entitlement. A quorum for an executive committee meeting is at least 50% of the executive committee members.

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FAQs on Strata Manager

What does a strata manager do?
Strata managers are engaged by the strata scheme's owners corporation committee to manage the day-to-day affairs of the scheme. Strata schemes are becoming larger and more complex. Strata managers provide services and advice on:

  •  Financial management
  • Insurance
  • Clerical and administrative support and follow up
  • Ad hoc maintenance and contract support
  • Ensure requirements of the relevant legislation are met
  • Advise on the legal requirements concerning the operation of the strata scheme.

The role varies depending on the size and type of property and involves people management, requires someone who is organised and is able to handle difficult clients from time-to-time.

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How do I choose a professional strata manager?

SCA is currently introducing an accreditation program where members in each state will be able to gain a certain level of accreditation according to the training and experience they have in the sector. This will make it easier for strata schemes to determine if their strata manager has the appropriate qualifications and experience to manage their property.

By choosing an SCA accredited strata manager strata schemes are also choosing someone who adheres to a code of ethics and undertakes regular training.

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What is the benefit of having a professional strata manager, rather than self-managing the owners corporation?
The legislation governing owners corporations and the compliance requirements are quite complex. Self-managed owners corporations are expected to perform the role of a property manager, with the expertise of a lawyer, valuer, insurance broker and accountant on tap.

In addition, owners corporations are well advised to make short and long term plans for ongoing, periodic, routine and urgent maintenance management. For owners who may have other jobs, getting to grips with all this can be daunting. That’s why many owners corporations are moving away from self management and turning to professional strata managers to assist with finances, insurance, administration, meetings and maintenance functions. Occasionally they are appointed to solve intractable problems, including those involving relationship breakdowns between lot owners.

Strata managers like BCS are experts and knowledgable in the administration of all aspects of owners corporations. They work to ensure owners corporations are compliant with their legal responsibilities, enhance community living and strive to protect owner assets.

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How do I evaluate a strata manager's performance?
Ask whether your strata manager is providing a proactive service delivery. Are they professional? Do they act in a timely manner? Do they provide the level of care you expected? If the answers are yes and if your strata manager is also SCA accredited, then you have likely found the right person for your scheme.

I’m not happy with our strata manager. What do I do?
If you’re not on the committee, you can voice your concern at the Annual Meeting, or do so in writing to the Chairperson of the committee. However, your first step should be to talk to the strata manager themselves to explain your concerns, which may arise out of a simple misunderstanding.

If you’re a member of the committee, you can also discuss the matter with your fellow members and establish a consensus of opinion regarding the performance of the strata manager. You can also examine the terms of their contract. It may be that the committee agrees that there has been underperformance, and sets new performance benchmarks.

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FAQs on Maintenance and Renovations

Where does the money for repairs and maintenance of common property come from? 

Levies must be raised to do repairs. A motion is put to a general meeting to raise levies to cover the cost of the work. The amount that needs to be paid by each owner is based on their unit entitlement.

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What if the damage was accidental rather than caused by negligence? Is there a difference in who has responsibility to fix it? 

The owners corporation must repair common property and an owner must repair their lot – it does not make a difference how the damage occurred (whether accidental or negligent). If someone else damages your property, then like any damages claim, you may take legal action to recover the cost of repairs from that person.

Some of my possessions were in the garage and they have been damaged. Who is responsible? 

The owner or occupier is responsible for things inside their lot. They may be able to claim on their contents insurance policy.

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Something in our block needs attending to. How do I arrange it?
If your strata scheme is managed by a strata manager, contact them. However, it’s very important to understand that a strata manager only acts on behalf of the committee, and will need to first seek their approval for any action that may need to be performed. If it is a major issue, it will need to be placed as an agenda item for a forthcoming meeting of the committee, before any action can be taken. Occasionally, if the issue is urgent, the committee may agree to a special meeting.

If you are renting, contact the office of the real estate agent from whom you are renting, or your landlord if renting directly.

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My bathroom tap is leaking. Can I charge the owners corporation for it?
Generally speaking, no. The taps are internal of the apartment and not in or relating to the benefit of more than one lot or the common property, so it is unlikely that the bathroom tap of a lot would be classified as common property. The obligation of the owners corporation extends only to repairs and maintenance of the common property; and the chattels, fixtures, fittings and services related to the common property or its enjoyment.

If you are renting, contact the office of the real estate agent from whom you are renting, or your landlord if renting directly.

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The people above me pulled up their carpet without permission of the owners corporation and put down a floating floor which is very noisy, what can I do?

Under the model by–laws that apply to most schemes, owners do not require permission to remove the carpet in their lot airspace. However the model by–laws require them to notify the owners corporation before proceeding. If a noise problem results, you can talk to them about it or ask the owners corporation to serve them with a Notice to Comply with a By–Law. If the unit is tenanted, you can usually take action against the owner seeking to have the floor carpeted or covered to reduce noise.

What right has an owners corporation have to enter a lot owner's property to undertake maintenance?

An owners corporation does not have a right to enter onto a lot owners property to carry out any activities without the lot owners permission. To do otherwise may constitute a trespass. Permission should therefore be sought from each lot owner.

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Can the owners corporation force me to remove a shed/glasshouse from my balcony?

This is one of the powers provided to an owners corporation to assist maintain control of an owners corporation in an attempt to maintain the value of the property and enjoyment of the property for the benefit of all owners. If the shed/glasshouse is adversely affecting the outward appearance of a lot or is an occupational health and safety hazard in its position on the balcony, then the owners corporation does have the right to request its removal. In general if in doubt, simply ask the question prior to purchasing and installing anything on your balcony, it could save you unnecessary expense. Remember too, to consult your owners corporations rules which can also provide guidance in many similar situations.

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FAQs on Levies

The owners corporation has sent me an invoice. Do I have to pay it?
 Definitely. You must pay it by the due date. You cannot object to a levy by not paying it. Penalties apply for non-payment. Read more about levies.

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The owners corporation keeps putting up the levies. What can I do? 

Levies are decided at general meetings and must be discussed and accepted by a vote of the owners. You can vote against the increase or put up a motion for a different levy amount if you wish. A strata manager may put a motion for an increase in levies on the meeting agenda but cannot impose levies.

Levies are normally only increased if there is a need to do new works or there are additional expenses. Ask why the increase is being made if you are not sure. If you are concerned about rising costs you could try to negotiate paying in instalments. If you think the levies are really too high, you can lodge an application for mediation with Fair Trading to try to resolve the matter.

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I did not get a levy notice so I have not paid anything for ages. Is this a problem? 

Your levies must be paid whether or not you receive a notice. Unpaid levies mean you will not be able to vote at meetings. Make sure your current address is on the strata roll so you can receive notices of both levies and meetings. You can pay your levies any time up until a meeting starts, in order to be financial and therefore eligible to vote.

Do unpaid strata levies incur penalty interest?
Yes. The penalty interest rate varies between states and territories but is generally comparable to what you would be charged for non-payment of council rates. Any costs in recovering a debt are also entirely payable by the debtor. For specifics please refer to the Legislation for your state or territory. For example, in New South Wales owners corporation can impose a charge of 10% simple interest for levies not paid within 1 month of their due date. The owners corporation can also take debt recovery action through the local court. In Victoria the Owners Corporations Act 2006, Section 29, allows an owners corporation to charge interest on any amount payable by a lot owner that remains outstanding after the due date for payment, up to the maximum rate of interest payable under the Penalty Interest Rates Act 1983.

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FAQs on Disputes

How can we avoid disputes in strata communities?
Strata schemes are communities. Disputes occasionally occur because of divergent owner views, complex rules that apply, the substantial property and monetary interests that exist and the close living arrangements in medium and high-density living. So finding ways to resolve disputes is important to preserve harmony and co-operation.

The top five reasons for disputes are:

  • Use of common property
  • Parking
  • Noise
  • Breaking of by-laws
  • Lot renovations

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What can we do to solve them?
In most states conciliation or mediation is required in strata disputes. A few states require the scheme to undertake an internal dispute resolution process in some circumstances. All states provide for disputes in strata schemes to be handled by specified tribunals or courts. Some states have very sophisticated specialist dispute processes and venues, but a number have limitations on whether or not damages can be ordered and whether or not costs orders can be made.


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What are some tips for successful strata living?

  • Be aware: know the strata rules for your state, and your scheme’s by-laws so you’re fully informed of your rights and your responsibilities.
  • Be involved: take an active interest in what goes on in your scheme. Attend owners committee meetings where decisions are made, and make your vote count. Use your proxy if you can’t attend. Ensure that insurance is adequate, and that the sinking fund matches the long term maintenance planned for the next few years.
  • If you don’t like it, change it: if you believe the by-laws for your strata scheme aren’t working, change them. You do this by putting a motion with the new by-law to a general meeting, getting over 75 per cent to vote for it.
  • Budget for levies: each quarter it’s likely you’ll need to pay levies to fund your share of the annual running costs of the owners corporation and maintenance. Occasionally, additional special levies may need to be imposed to fund unexpected or especially expensive maintenance, or for other reasons. So ensure you make allowance for these in your personal budgeting.
  • Protect your investment: maintain common property. If it’s getting run down, put up a motion at a meeting for specific works to be done.
  • Be respectful: seek approval before altering common property. It doesn’t matter that it’s your courtyard, if it’s common property, it’s owned by everyone.
  • Be empathetic: understand that your neighbour may be on the other side of your living room or bedroom wall, so be mindful of others. Noise is annoying – as is taking up visitor parking with your vehicles.
  • Talk first: talk to your neighbours if there’s a problem. They may not realise their actions are causing a nuisance.
  • Don’t let it fester: pursue by-law breaches. If talking has not resolved a by-law breach, contact your owners committee or strata manager to issue a Notice to Comply with a by-law. You may also want to apply for mediation.
  • Be flexible: there may be times you need to give a little more leeway to accommodate different personalities.

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(Disclaimer: The information provided in this website is a general guide only and not intended as a substitute for proper legal advice. Seek professional legal advice before taking any action. The company BCS Strata Management disclaims all responsibility and all liability for any expenses, losses, damages and costs which might be incurred as a result of the information provided by the company on this website.)