What is a strata scheme?
A strata scheme is a building or collection of buildings in which individuals each own a small part (lot), but where there is also common property which every owner shares ownership of – such as driveways, external walls and swimming pools.
What is the role of the strata manager?
The strata manager carries out some or all of the functions, duties or powers of the owners corporation or body corporate in administering and maintaining a strata scheme or community title. These tasks include secretariat and administration, arranging insurance, organising maintenance works, maintaining financial records and bank accounts, advising on by-law and legal matters. In New South Wales the strata manager must be licensed under the Property, Stock and Business Agents Act 2002.
In addition, a strata manager can advise a developer on all aspects of their strata set-up, from planning through to completion, to ensure a compliant and harmonious development and community of owners.
What kind of properties do you manage and how long have you been in the business?
BCS has been in business for almost 40 years, and manage all property types, including residential, industrial, commercial, retail, mixed use, resort, retirement villages and master planned communities.
Does BCS offer website access for owners to see their accounts and minutes of meetings?
Yes – Community Hub is an online portal which allows registered owners to view full details of their building administration and finances, pay levies and update their details.
What kind of maintenance support does BCS offer?
BCS provides clients with a 24 hour a day maintenance service, utilising wherever possible screened and approved property service professionals who are fully certified and properly insured and listed on the Community Select register.
My building wants assistance with strata management – how do we get started?
Contact 1300 184 608 or email to firstname.lastname@example.org and one of our experienced staff will discuss your particular needs. They will then issue you with a quote for consideration by your committee. We are able to tailor our services specifically to each plan, and can accommodate properties and communities of every size.
Developers are encouraged to contact us on 1300 184 608 or email to email@example.com for quotations specific to the stage and size of their development.
What is a levy?
A levy is a contribution that all owners must pay (usually quarterly), which is pooled and covers the administrative expenses of maintaining and managing the strata or community title scheme, and also covers future works that may be required.
Can I have a pet in my apartment?
The keeping of animals is dictated by the by-laws applicable in each state and to each plan. Generally, an owner or occupier must not keep an animal unless written permission is obtained from the owners corporation or body corporate, who are obligated not to unreasonably refuse such a request.
I am thinking of changing my floor covering from carpet to vinyl. Is it a requirement that I get permission from the committee, even though I won’t be installing wooden floorboards?
Firstly, you need to check if your building has any specific by-laws regarding flooring and if they apply to the installation of vinyl.
If there are no specific by-laws in place, the relevant state legislation by-laws apply. In Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria these are based on the same rule – that all residents are entitled to peaceful enjoyment of their home.
In order to meet this requirement, all owners must make sure their floor is covered or treated to prevent disturbance by noise to other residents. In the relevant New South Wales by-law, flooring in the kitchen, laundry, toilet and bathroom is exempt from this rule.
Wooden floorboards and tiles generally require acoustic underlay below the boards to keep noise to acceptable levels. Vinyl may not require an underlay, but you should consult your buildings by-laws to be sure, and advise your body corporate or owners corporation in writing (via your committee) of your intention to change the flooring.
Be aware you will also need to arrange access for tradespeople and their materials, removal of the old flooring and lift use. The owners corporation will need be advised of any such disruptions to other residents. Remember, your strata manager is available to guide you through any floor replacement you may be considering.
The major difference between owning a house and owning a unit or apartment (known as a ‘lot’) in an owners corporation (OC) or body corporate, is that there are usually common property areas which generally are the responsibility of the OC or body corporate to maintain (ie. Pathways, corridors, roofs, etc.)
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 OC or body corporate.
Can I do my own repairs to common property?
Only if you have the permission of the OC or body corporate. If common property needs repair or maintenance, the OC or body corporate should undertake that work, not an individual owner.
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 OC or body corporate organise 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.
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. Use the prescribed Proxy Form, which will accompany the notice of meeting.
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 owners corporation (OC) or body corporate register 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 or for a postal ballot for the matter to be voted on.
What is a quorum?
The quorum provisions in Strata Schemes are different for General Meetings than for Executive Committee meetings.
General Meetings :
The quorum for a general meeting of a Strata Scheme (with more than 2 lots) in NSW is detailed in Clause 12 of Schedule 2 to the Act where it states that the quorum is at least 1/4 of the number of persons entitled to vote either being present in person or by way of proxy or at least 1/4 of the aggregate unit entitlement of those entitled to vote either being present in person or by way of proxy.
In the event that a quorum is not achieved, or at some point a meeting lapses for want of a quorum – after a period of a half-hour – the meeting stands adjourned for a period of at least 7 days. In this latter case, at the adjourned meeting if a quorum is not achieved within a period of half-hour of the time that was fixed for the commencement of the meeting, then the number of persons entitled to vote either being present in person or by way of proxy constitute the quorum for considering motions and business of the meeting.
The quorum for an Executive Committee meeting of a Strata Scheme in NSW is detailed in Clause 9 of Schedule 3 to the Act where it states that the quorum for an Executive Committee that consists of 2 or more members is at least one-half (50% or more present). It must be kept in mind that the number for the quorum is based upon the number determined at the last general meeting at which the size of the Executive Committee was set.
In the case where the Executive Committee consists of one person, the quorum is one.
Do you have a question about strata? Ask us here.
Want to know more about your levies? Download the BCS Smart Strata Levies fact sheet.