Image of apartment building representing property managers and strata managers, Vantage Strata Canberra

When you rent in a dwelling with multiple residents, it can be difficult to know who is responsible for what.

Apartment living can be convenient and affordable for people of all ages. If you are renting, however, it can sometimes be confusing to know who to reach out to if something goes wrong. 

There will be more than one person taking responsibility for you living in comfort and safety. They include:

  • Your landlord, who owns the apartment
  • Your property manager, who takes responsibility for collecting your rent and ensuring the apartment is well-maintained
  • The strata manager, who acts on behalf of the owners corporation and strata committee.

With so many different parties involved, the best point of contact isn’t always clear.

Landlord vs property manager

As mentioned, your landlord owns your apartment. They are the party your rent goes to. 

Some landlords choose to manage their own property and will collect rent from you directly. They will also take responsibility for inspections or repairs. However, most landlords tend to recruit a professional to help them. This is usually someone from a local real estate agency, who takes on the role of property manager. 

The real estate professional or investor who takes on the property manager role is responsible for: 

  • Collecting rent and bond money 
  • Taking care of repairs and upgrades inside your apartment (e.g. fix faulty blinds, replace carpets)
  • Ensuring appliances are operational
  • Ensuring fire alarms are operational
  • Sharing lease agreements
  • Rental inspections.

A property manager also liaises with the owners corporation, executive committee and strata manager for a multi-dwelling property complex on behalf of tenants and landlords.

As a tenant, your property manager is your first port of call for most issues. For example, if your neighbours are disturbing the peace at five in the morning, you would probably contact your property manager. They will forward your complaint to the executive committee on your behalf. 

Depending on the way your building operates, your property manager is likely to communicate changes and notices with you directly. So if there is a change to a bylaw or a full-building fire safety check scheduled, you will hear about it from this representative. 

In some instances, apartment or unit complexes have a resident portal which will send updates via email. 

Property manager vs strata manager

While a property manager is hired by a landlord, a strata manager is hired by the complex’s executive committee. This is the body of people who represent the property owners within the building. 

The strata manager takes responsibility for everything within the complex but outside the walls of your apartment. 

Your strata manager’s to-do list includes:

  • Ensuring the building where you live is safe and structurally compliant
  • Managing the budget for the maintenance of the building
  • Liaising with tradespeople including cleaners, gardeners
  • Organising repairs e.g. for communal garage doors or build-wide alarm systems
  • Running owners corporation meetings and taking minutes
  • Communicating updates and notices with tenants, landlords and owner-occupiers
  • Organising property upgrades including painting, new external doors or landscaping updates
  • Acting as a liaison when there is a dispute between owners or tenants
  • Working with the owners committee to review requests and enforce bylaws
  • Ensuring common areas like hallways, stairs and car parks are well maintained.

While as a tenant you would usually go directly to your property manager if you have a problem, you do have the right to approach the buildings’ strata manager. However, if you do this, it is a good idea to include your property manager as part of the conversation so they understand what’s going on. 

Tenants are permitted to attend owners corporation meetings along with the strata manager and property manager. You may wish to do this if an issue is of concern to you and you want to make sure it is raised. Unfortunately, however, you will not be permitted to vote on the proposed solution. 

If you have a good property manager and a good strata manager within your complex, they will work together to ensure you have a quality experience as a tenant.