Strata living has become increasingly popular worldwide due to its shared amenities, maintenance benefits, and sense of community. However, understanding the financial aspect of strata living is crucial for both long-term residents and those new to the community.
In this article, we'll take an in depth look at the various components that make up strata levies and how they impact your living experience. The breakdown of strata fees can vary depending on the strata corporation's needs, the property's size and complexity, and the location. Property owners usually receive regular financial statements that detail how strata fees are allocated and spent.
Strata Levies and its Components
Strata levies are regular payments made by owners of strata titled properties. These contributions ensure the continued maintenance of your strata property, efficiently managing its ongoing needs alongside future investments.
Strata levies play a vital role in supporting both the capital works fund and the administration fund of the property. The capital works fund is allocated for substantial property improvements and structural upkeep, while the administration fund covers the routine expenses.
Understanding the basic components of strata levies is essential for anyone living in a strata titled property. Below, we will provide an overview of the components that make up strata levies.
The strata administrative fund plays a crucial role in the effective management and day to day operations of a strata titled property.
Fees allocated and paid from the strata administrative fund includes a wide range of costs, including strata and building management fees, cleaning, legal services, accounting services, insurance premiums and maintenance and repairs of the building.
Maintenance and Repairs
Routine maintenance and repairs of common areas and shared facilities is where a significant portion of your strata levies go. These funds are utilised for essential upkeep such as landscaping, maintaining the cleanliness of communal spaces, attending to minor wear and tear issues and maintenance and upkeep of amenities, such as pools, gyms, and recreational facilities. This allocation ensures that the property's communal spaces remain in good condition and continue to provide a pleasant environment for all residents.
Funds may also cover utilities for common areas such as water, sewer, and garbage collection. However, owners typically handle their own utilities for their individual units.
Strata levies also contribute to your buildings insurance. This insurance primarily covers the common property and shared areas within a strata titled property, including the building's structure, hallways, elevators, and any communal facilities like swimming pools or gyms as well as liability protection in case someone is injured on the common property and decides to make a legal claim. While strata insurance covers shared spaces, individual unit owners are usually responsible for insuring their personal units and belongings separately.
Some buildings may have a building manager for overseeing the day-to-day operations and ensuring the smooth functioning of the property. These fees contribute to the costs associated with hiring a building manager. The building manager's responsibilities often include coordinating maintenance and repairs, managing contracts with service providers, addressing residents' concerns, and ensuring compliance with strata regulation.
Capital works fund
Levies are also allocated to a capital works fund, which is set aside for major repairs and upgrades to the property. This fund ensures that there are sufficient funds available for significant projects, such as roof replacements, structural repairs, updating common areas and upgrades such as installing energy efficient systems or renovating amenities.
Investing in upgrades and improvements not only enhances the overall appearance and functionality of the property but also increases its value. By contributing to the capital works fund through strata levies, unit owners collectively invest in the long-term well-being of the property.
How Strata Levies are Determined and Calculated
Strata fees are determined and calculated based on various factors. The strata manager and strata committee are responsible for creating a budget that outlines the expected expenses for the upcoming year. This budget takes into account the anticipated maintenance costs, upgrades, and amenities, as well as any contingency funds or special works that may be necessary.
Once the budget is approved by the owners, the strata fees are calculated based on the unit entitlement of each owner. Unit entitlement is determined by the size and location of the unit within the strata property. Owners with larger units or units in more desirable locations typically have a higher unit entitlement and therefore pay higher strata fees. The units of entitlement are determined by a registered valuer at the time of creation of the Strata Scheme (effective from 30 September 2016).
Tips for Managing Strata Levies
Managing strata fees effectively is crucial for the financial health of the strata community. Here are some tips to help you keep your strata fees manageable:
- Review the budget: Take the time to review the budget and understand how the strata fees are being allocated. If you have any concerns or questions, bring them up with the strata committee or strata manager.
- Participate in decision-making: Attend strata meetings, particularly the Annual General Meeting (AGM) and actively participate in the decision-making process. This can ensure that your voice is heard and that the strata fees are being used in the best interest of the community.
- Save for capital works: Consider setting aside some funds for potential capital works. Having a savings plan in place can help alleviate the financial burden of unexpected expenses. Most of our buildings have a professional consultant assist with ensuring that a Capital Works Fund Plan is completed for the next 10 years (see further articles on completing a Capital Works Fund Plan).
- Conserve resources: Be mindful of your energy and water usage. By conserving resources, you can help reduce
the overall operating costs of the strata property, which may have a positive impact on strata fees.
Conclusion and Importance of Understanding Strata Levies
Strata fees play a vital role in the maintenance and enhancement of your strata property. By understanding the various components of strata levies, you can gain insight into where your money goes and ensure that it is being allocated effectively.
From routine maintenance tasks to upgrades and improvements, strata levies contribute to the overall upkeep and value of your property. They also fund the creation and maintenance of amenities that enhance your living experience.
By managing strata fees effectively and participating in the decision-making process, you can ensure that your strata levies are being used wisely and that your property remains a valuable investment.
So, the next time you receive your strata fee statement, remember that it's not just an additional expense, but an investment in the long-term success and enjoyment of your property.