Strata legislation changes constantly. Find out how to ensure your executive committee is compliant with current laws.
Our growing population and the rising trend for urban living means strata properties are more prevalent than ever, particularly in Canberra where more and more people are choosing to live close to work and amenity.
While strata properties provide the convenience of lock-up-and-leave living, the benefits of feeling connected to a community and a more secure environment, having many different people living at close quarters means there must be rules in place.
To manage these rules, it is essential to have an owners corporation, an executive committee and well-organised strata management company. The role of the strata manager is to gather strata levies, set by-laws/rules, keep the property maintained and to manage funds, amongst other things.
One of the biggest challenges faced by executive committees and strata management companies is the fact legislation surrounding strata complexes and strata management is constantly changing.
ACT strata legislation
In Canberra and the ACT, the Unit Titles Management Act covers elements including the establishment and legal status of an owners corporation, its function and its codes of conduct.
Covering over 150 pages, the Act describes what the executive committee must, may and cannot do. This includes how to keep meeting minutes, how to make decisions and how to take legal action, should the need arise.
If you’re keen to be actively involved as an owners committee member, it will make sense to have a thorough understanding of the Management Act. However, the rules are not set in stone and are updated regularly.
For example, in August 2019, the ACT Government announced a strata reform package, part of which aimed to address the fee structure for ‘mixed-use’ buildings (complexes with both commercial and residential tenants).
The responsibilities of running a strata complex are extensive, especially if there are over a dozen apartments. As an executive committee member, unless you are retired and have a great deal of time on your hands, it can be difficult to stay across the finer points of strata management legislation.
For example, you may have by-laws/rules which prevent tenants from making minor moderations to their apartment. If these by-laws/rules contravene current legislation, the committee may find itself in hot water.
Constant updates to legislation can result in your executive committee being non-compliant, maybe even for years, without even realising this is the case.
To prevent an inadvertent breach of strata regulation, the best approach is to engage a proactive strata management company. Working closely with your executive committee, this business will take over responsibilities including issuing levy notices, recording and chairing meetings and acting as secretary and treasurer.
A well-organised and reliable strata management company will be divided into departments, delegating control of areas including communication, maintenance and administration. Your strata management company should also have a team member who takes full responsibility for ensuring your executive committee is compliant with each point of the Unit Titles Management Act. It is their job to stay up to date on strata legislation and to communicate changes to your committee.
Is your executive committee compliant?
If the answer to the above question is “I’m not sure”, it may be time to investigate a more proactive strata management company.
Ideally, your strata manager should be across legislation, should take action immediately to notify the executive committee of updates and should actively be working with the committee to ensure compliance.
Prevention is always better than cure so working closely with your strata management company to stay compliant is an excellent strategy to prevent expensive problems down the track.