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What to look for when Hiring a Strata Manager

A Strata Manager is another title for a strata managing agent who has responsibilities within a strata scheme that they are engaged to manage. From ensuring Owners Corporation procedures and by-laws are in line with the law, to organising the regular garden upkeep and strata maintenance within a building, Strata Managers are responsible for coordinating all major and minor matters regarding common property and administering the government legislation in a strata scheme.

The election of a Strata Manager in Sydney is voted on at a General Meeting of the Owners Corporation, and a Strata Manager is appointed via a majority vote at the General Meeting. Each Strata Manager in Sydney must hold a Strata Manager’s Licence, which is administered by NSW Fair Trading. Each Strata Management Company arrangement and agreement is slightly different, however it is to be determined and agreed between each Strata Scheme and the Strata Manager on which functions the Owners Corporation will perform and which functions the Strata Manager will carry out on behalf of the Owners Corporation.

At the Strata Collective, we believe the following list should be asked of the tendering Strata Manager:

  • What buildings do you manage that are similar to ours and how long have you managed them?
  • What improvements have you introduced to these buildings?
  • What is the level of accounting we can expect?
  • What is the turnaround time on email responses?
  • How many buildings and lots does my strata manager have?
  • Does your building provide training or education to Strata Committee members?
  • Can the Strata Committee speak to senior management if we have an issue?
  • What is the fee structure and is the fee structure fixed or variable?

An important question to ask is: how can we choose the best Strata Manager for us and how can I get the best out of my strata management relationship? A vital element of a smooth operation between the Owners Corporation and the strata manager is good communication. At times, disagreements over the management of a building can come down to a lack of communication and the instructions given to the Owners Corporation to the Strata Manager. As a majority of your Strata Manager’s role is around administration (collecting levies, paying bills, issuing notices), clear communication is key.

The next step in understanding what to expect from your Strata Manager is to clearly read and understand the contractual obligations outlined in the Strata Management Agreement, as the duties of the Strata Manager are listed within the document. It is important to note that along with your building, your Strata Manager has other buildings in their portfolio that they are responsible for managing at the same time as your strata. Despite this, there are some non-negotiables which a Strata Manager should inform the Owners Corporation of regularly. These include details of financial transactions and works performed which should be regularly supplied to the Owners Corporation.

As an owner, the expectations you may have of your Strata Manager will differ to the expectations of a Strata Committee member. The usual requirements of owners relate to their apartment and responses for requests for strata pets, keys or swipe requests, strata renovation works and questions about the strata levies.  As a Strata Committee member, the following can be requested through your Strata Manager: budgets, financial statements, manuals, service provider contracts, by-law samples and any other projects that the strata scheme is working on.

Alternatively, what you shouldn’t expect from your Strata Manager includes delegating their powers, authorities, duties or functions to others, making a decision on a restricted matter (for e.g. an issue that needs a special or unanimous resolution) or making a decision regarding levies. A Strata Manager also cannot go beyond their contracted duties. If the Owners Corporation wishes to extend or alter the Strata Manager’s duties they must do so through a change to the Strata Management contract, which will need to be updated and approved by an ordinary resolution at a General Meeting.

If you require improved service or performance from your Strata Manager, then communication is key again. Service or performance issues should be exactly identified and what needs to be changed should be clear and agreed by both parties. Often, expectations don’t meet reality and some Owners Corporations can expect more service than they are paying for. Differing standards of expectation can at times be overcome through clear communication, agreed KPIs and an open dialogue. Spending time in setting up good terms of contract before signing an agreement can prevent future issues.

Asking questions as opposed to demanding a result is a helpful approach to dealing with your Strata Manager. The issue may be a misunderstanding, the resolution to an item may not be within their power, the manager may be on holiday or they could have been instructed by the Strata Committee to hold off on a particular issue. However, if you do feel as though there are legitimate grounds for concerns then you can escalate your issue to your Strata Committee, the Strata Manager’s supervisor or NSW Fair Trading. 

 This information is intended to provide a general summary only and should not be relied upon as a substitute for legal advice