Image of building representing Who is responsible for strata building tasks, Vantage Strata Canberra

There are some perks to strata living, especially when it comes to maintenance. Find out who does what at a larger strata complex.

“Honey, have you put the bins out?”

This question echoes around Australia every night. Often, the task is forgotten until the garbage truck is pulling up outside at 6am. 

For free-standing homes and small strata complexes, jobs like putting the bins out and weeding common garden areas fall to residents. If you’re in a larger complex, you are freed from this chore. 

But who is responsible for putting out the rubbish bins and other jobs around the complex? Take a look at standard practice for the Australian Capital Territory.

 

Maintaining common property

Many modern complexes provide access to pools, gyms, barbecue areas, gazebos, driveways and visitor parking. These features are for all residents to enjoy and are shared/common property, meaning nobody has more right to the space or facilities than anyone else. 

Letterboxes, garden areas, elevators and stairwells all count as common property. The term also includes structural features like outdoor lighting, the roof, pathways and things like security cameras or outside taps and car washing areas.

When it comes to the cleaning, repairing and upkeep of common property, specific companies or service providers are hired to do the work. For example, a waste removal company will come once or twice a week to collect the bins. Pool cleaners would visit regularly, as would gardeners. 

Luckily for owners and tenants, they don’t have to spend time pruning flowers and bushes. However, they have to pay for the pleasure of having someone do this for them. 

The Owners Corporation, which is made up of all lot owners, pays for building maintenance. The money is raised through what’s known as strata levies. A set quarterly amount is billed to each lot owner to cover expenses. 

When it comes to deciding which providers do the work, this is up to the Executive Committee. This group of up to nine elected members will consult with a professional strata management company to find the right providers to do the job at the right price. The Executive Committee also works with the strata manager to set a budget so each expense can be covered without the building sinking into debt.  

Strata levies are determined at the annual general meeting of the Owner’s Corporation. This allows everyone to take a look at maintenance expenses and have their say if necessary. 

 

Fixing common property

When you own a freestanding home, a broken window or fence may be left for years before someone gets to it. In a strata building, it is expected an issue like this would be repaired as quickly as possible. 

Again, it is not up to residents to pull out their buckets of paint or screwdrivers. In fact, this is a bad idea, partly for insurance reasons and partly because it doesn’t make sense for someone to do work on behalf of others.

Responsibility for organising repairs falls to the Owners Corporation, who collectively contribute their strata levies to pay for such jobs. However, generally it is the strata manager, on behalf of the Executive Committee, who will organise tradespeople to complete the repairs. 

If you don’t have a proactive Strata Manager or Executive Committee, repairs can take a long time. This is because the request has to come to the committee first for approval, then the strata manager has to organise the fix to be made. 

Ideally, repair requests will be managed through an online portal. This gives more people visibility of when requests are lodged and how long it takes to action them. 

It’s worth noting that if a matter is urgent, the Owners Corporation may authorise a tradesperson to go ahead with work to avoid further damage. If it is not, the matter may be referred to the insurer, who will determine the work required to rectify the problem.

Again, even if you can do so, as a lot owner you shouldn’t organise a repair job on common property on your own then try to reclaim the money. The Owners Corporation may have arrangements with specific tradespersons. Engaging another tradesperson may compromise arrangements with their tradesperson and insurers.

Within your building, there may be some confusion over who is responsible for making repairs and where. In some circumstances, things could actually be your responsibility as a lot owner. 

If you’re confused about repairs, maintenance or who is supposed to take out the rubbish, take a look through your strata agreement. If you can’t find any details, talk to the Executive Committee or reach out to the building’s Strata Manager. They should be able to provide you with the information you need. 

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