Can renters contact a strata company directly? | Rental rants | Flat Chat Forum: Your Questions Answered




A A A

You must be registered and logged in to reply to posts or post new topics. Click on "How to Use This Forum" for simple instructions on how to get on board. NB: Please do not use your real name or email address as your screen name - if you do it will be changed to something less insecure.

Avatar

Please consider registering
Guest

Search

— Forum Scope —




— Match —





— Forum Options —





Minimum search word length is 3 characters - maximum search word length is 84 characters

Register Lost password?
sp_Feed sp_PrintTopic sp_TopicIcon
Can renters contact a strata company directly?
Avatar
Question
FlatChatter
Members
Forum Posts: 4
Member Since:
04/09/2017
sp_UserOfflineSmall Offline
1
04/09/2017 - 2:13 pm
sp_Permalink sp_Print

I was just told by my strata company that as i am renting, i cannot contact them directly and have to do it through an agent. The issue is that my agent claims that strata is not responding to her and the strata company's response is simply that the agent has to keep following up with them.

If i could talk to strata directly about a repair issue, that would make things a lot simpler. I dont even know how or if my agent is contacting strata.

Avatar
Lady Penelope
StrataGuru
Members

Full Members
Forum Posts: 424
Member Since:
13/02/2016
sp_UserOnlineSmall Online
2
04/09/2017 - 4:15 pm
sp_Permalink sp_Print

I am guessing that if you are wanting to contact the Strata Manager that you have issues with the common property rather than issues within your rental property.

If that is the case then why don't you draft the email about the repairs and sent it to the Agent. Include the name and email address of the Strata Manager. Ask your Agent to forward it on to the Strata Manager immediately and ask that the Agent CC you into the email conversation? That way you will know that the email has been sent by the Agent to the Strata Manager.

If you are doing all of the 'hard work' for the Agent then there is no excuse for them not to act.

Avatar
scotlandx
StrataGuru
Members

Full Members

Moderators
Forum Posts: 701
Member Since:
02/02/2012
sp_UserOfflineSmall Offline
3
04/09/2017 - 4:16 pm
sp_Permalink sp_Print

There is nothing magic about the managing agent contacting the strata manager, equally there is nothing stopping you contacting the strata manager.  However - the strata manager needs some comfort that whatever it is you are asking for is within parameters.  In our strata the strata manager often liaises with the tenants directly because as you say it is just easier, but that is usually after a request from the managing agent.

Your tenancy agreement may say something about how repairs are progressed, and this may encompass you making a request to the managing agent.

If the strata manager isn't responding, that is a whole other issue.  Perhaps you need to ask your managing agent to contact the owner of the property to tell them that failure to carry out repairs may be a breach of the lease, and the strata manager is causing the problem?

Avatar
BONNIE L
Flat(chat)Mate
Members
Forum Posts: 45
Member Since:
19/10/2016
sp_UserOfflineSmall Offline
4
04/09/2017 - 4:21 pm
sp_Permalink sp_Print

Perhaps it depends on the issue. I'm no expert; if you have online access, and the issue is not urgent, perhaps set up respectful correspondence, copying in the agent and strata. It it is urgent, I would act  - phone and email copying in everyone - according to the level of urgency.   

Avatar
Question
FlatChatter
Members
Forum Posts: 4
Member Since:
04/09/2017
sp_UserOfflineSmall Offline
5
04/09/2017 - 4:24 pm
sp_Permalink sp_Print sp_EditHistory

The issue is that the mailbox has a lock that is jammed open, the agent said on august 11 that she would contact strata regarding the repair, but then kept refusing to contact them a second time because "it's entirely up to strata, I cannot push them". She only agreed to contact them again after I told her that my debit card was stolen out of the mail box and hundreds of dollars of fradulent transactions was charged to my card.

She shows no sign of telling me who the strata manager is or who the company is...I had to check the notice board, and the strata manager isn't listed there, only the company is. The strata manager's contact details or identity are not listed anywhere in the building that I can find.

The receptionist at the strata company did tell me who the manager is, but immediately said she wasn't supposed to and that I cannot contact him directly. I have written to the strata company's email address regarding the mailbox, but have not received a reply. I could try contacting the strata manager directly, but I suspect he will tell me the same thing, that I cannot contact him directly. I am fairly certain the agent will not agree to CC me in emails either.

I have requested that the agent call directly if she cannot get a response via email, but she has not replied yet. So my question is whether renters can contact the strata company/manager directly, and if yes, is there something official that i can show to prove it?

Avatar
Austman
Victoria
Flat(chat)Mate
Members
Forum Posts: 304
Member Since:
22/01/2014
sp_UserOfflineSmall Offline
6
04/09/2017 - 4:26 pm
sp_Permalink sp_Print sp_EditHistory

If the matter is about a common property repair, I can't see anything wrong with any occupier contacting the OC directly.  All occupiers have rights under the Strata Acts.

For tenants in NSW some information on how to do that is here (it's a bit out of date):

https://www.tenants.org.au/factsheet-13-strata-scheme-tenants

A Strata Manager might be a bit reluctant to organise repairs without getting committee approval, but IMO they shouldn't simply reject the request because it's from a tenant.

As an OC chair, I'm always happy to deal directly with tenants about issues in our building.

Avatar
Lady Penelope
StrataGuru
Members

Full Members
Forum Posts: 424
Member Since:
13/02/2016
sp_UserOnlineSmall Online
7
04/09/2017 - 5:32 pm
sp_Permalink sp_Print sp_EditHistory

Being that you have had your credit card stolen as a result of the faulty lock on your common property letter box and you have notified your Agent but have not received any response then you might consider having the letter box lock repaired at your expense and then forwarding the Bill to the Owner via the Agent.

The Owner has let the property with a letter box therefore the letter box should be secure and functional. The owner is obliged to pay you within 14 days.

The Owner can then take this matter to the Strata Manager and the Owner’s Corporation to claim their money back. It could possibly be a small amount of money to have a locksmith fix the lock.

The fact that the security of your property has been put at risk may categorise the issue as an Urgent Repair.

Take photos before and after and ensure that you have kept all of the correspondence, records of phone calls etc.

The following is an extract from https://tenants.org.au/factsheet-06-repairs-and-maintenance

"Urgent repairs

Urgent repairs means any work needed to repair any of the following:

  • a failure or breakdown of the gas, electricity or water supply
  • a failure or breakdown of any essential service for hot water, cooking, heating, cooling or laundering
  • any fault or damage that makes the premises unsafe or insecure
  • serious damage from a natural disaster.

Getting urgent repairs done

Tell the landlord/agent – in writing if possible – about what needs fixing. Follow up any conversations with a letter. Keep a copy of the letter and a record of any conversations as evidence that you told the landlord/agent.

If there is no electricity or water it may be up to the service provider to fix the problem (if it is outside the boundary of the premises). See also Factsheet 23: Utilities.

If the landlord/agent cannot be contacted or is unwilling to do the urgent repairs, you can arrange for them to be done.

If the landlord/agent cannot be contacted or is unwilling to do any urgent repairs, or if they are taking too long to do them, you can arrange for the repairs to be done. Do not pay any more than $1,000 or you may not get your money back – the landlord is only required to pay you for any reasonable costs up to $1,000. They are obliged to pay within 14 days of your notice.

You must be able to show that:

  • the problem was not your fault
  • you made a ‘reasonable’ attempt to contact the landlord/agent
  • you gave the landlord/agent a ‘reasonable’ chance to do the repairs
  • the repairs were carried out by a repair person named in your tenancy agreement (if possible) or by a licensed or qualified tradesperson.

You must give the landlord/agent written notice about the repairs, costs and copies of receipts. The landlord must pay you for any reasonable costs up to $1,000 within 14 days of your notice.

If the landlord does not pay, apply to the Tribunal within 3 months from the end of that 14 days for an order that they do so.

If you cannot afford to pay for urgent repairs, apply to the Tribunal for an urgent hearing for the repairs to be done. You can also apply for a rent reduction until the repairs are done. See ‘Applying to the Tribunal’ below."

A sample form letter is here:

https://tenants.org.au/sample/urgent-repairs

Avatar
Question
FlatChatter
Members
Forum Posts: 4
Member Since:
04/09/2017
sp_UserOfflineSmall Offline
8
04/09/2017 - 5:42 pm
sp_Permalink sp_Print

Lady Penelope said
Being that you have had your credit card stolen as a result of the faulty lock on your common property letter box and you have notified your Agent but have not received any response then you might consider having the letter box lock repaired at your expense and then forwarding the Bill to the Owner via the Agent.

The Owner has let the property with a letter box therefore the letter box should be secure and functional. The owner is obliged to pay you within 14 days.

The Owner can then take this matter to the Strata Manager and the Owner’s Corporation to claim their money back. It could possibly be a small amount of money to have a locksmith fix the lock.

The fact that the security of your property has been put at risk may categorise the issue as an Urgent Repair.

Take photos before and after and ensure that you have kept all of the correspondence, records of phone calls etc.

The following is an extract from https://tenants.org.au/factsheet-06-repairs-and-maintenance

"Urgent repairs

Urgent repairs means any work needed to repair any of the following:

    • a failure or breakdown of the gas, electricity or water supply
    • a failure or breakdown of any essential service for hot water, cooking, heating, cooling or laundering
    • any fault or damage that makes the premises unsafe or insecure
    • serious damage from a natural disaster.

Getting urgent repairs done

Tell the landlord/agent – in writing if possible – about what needs fixing. Follow up any conversations with a letter. Keep a copy of the letter and a record of any conversations as evidence that you told the landlord/agent.

If there is no electricity or water it may be up to the service provider to fix the problem (if it is outside the boundary of the premises). See also Factsheet 23: Utilities.

If the landlord/agent cannot be contacted or is unwilling to do the urgent repairs, you can arrange for them to be done.

If the landlord/agent cannot be contacted or is unwilling to do any urgent repairs, or if they are taking too long to do them, you can arrange for the repairs to be done. Do not pay any more than $1,000 or you may not get your money back – the landlord is only required to pay you for any reasonable costs up to $1,000. They are obliged to pay within 14 days of your notice.

You must be able to show that:

    • the problem was not your fault
    • you made a ‘reasonable’ attempt to contact the landlord/agent
    • you gave the landlord/agent a ‘reasonable’ chance to do the repairs
    • the repairs were carried out by a repair person named in your tenancy agreement (if possible) or by a licensed or qualified tradesperson.

You must give the landlord/agent written notice about the repairs, costs and copies of receipts. The landlord must pay you for any reasonable costs up to $1,000 within 14 days of your notice.

If the landlord does not pay, apply to the Tribunal within 3 months from the end of that 14 days for an order that they do so.

If you cannot afford to pay for urgent repairs, apply to the Tribunal for an urgent hearing for the repairs to be done. You can also apply for a rent reduction until the repairs are done. See ‘Applying to the Tribunal’ below."

A sample form letter is here:

https://tenants.org.au/sample/urgent-repairs  

The problem with this plan is that I have no idea who the owner is (and the agent obviously will not tell me) and the agent can simply refuse to forward the bill to the owner because she already notified strata, and if i decide to get it repaired at my own expense, that's my problem.

Applying to the tribunal would cost more money, time, and my previous experience with the tribunal was very negative...the judge at the time refused to hear my side of the case and kept pressuring me to sign some documents without reading them, while my landlord was sitting there trying not to laugh because he didn't even need to defend himself.

Avatar
Austman
Victoria
Flat(chat)Mate
Members
Forum Posts: 304
Member Since:
22/01/2014
sp_UserOfflineSmall Offline
9
04/09/2017 - 5:54 pm
sp_Permalink sp_Print sp_EditHistory

The problem here is that letter boxes are common property.  I've not yet seen an apartment letter box that's part of lot property on a strata plan.

And owners/occupiers are not supposed to repair common property - at least not without the OC's permission. And the OC/Strata Manager won't even talk to the OP.

Still, I agree it seems a relatively simple thing to just get the lock fixed by a locksmith and worry about the OC/LL's reaction later.  If the OP is willing to do that.

But the question of the thread is still valid though.   That's about being able to contact the OC/Strata Manager.  And there will be other situations that are not so simply "solved".

Avatar
Lady Penelope
StrataGuru
Members

Full Members
Forum Posts: 424
Member Since:
13/02/2016
sp_UserOnlineSmall Online
10
04/09/2017 - 6:14 pm
sp_Permalink sp_Print sp_EditHistory

I needed an urgent repair of a lock on my front door on one  Sunday afternoon earlier this year. Front door and lock are common property. I called the locksmith who arrived and undertook the repair immediately. I paid for the repair then sought compensation for the repair. I had no problems getting compensated for the repairs by the OC even though all the repairs were to common property. 

Question - You don't need to know who the owner is to send them a repair Bill if the repair is deemed to be urgent. You just need to send the Bill to the Agent who will forward it to the owner. The owner must pay you within 14 days.

It is a tricky situation but if you want the lock fixed quickly then this may be what you need to do. Let the Owner sort the matter out with the Strata Manager and the Owners Corporation. This will avoid you having to deal with the Strata Manager.

If you have had a credit card stolen from your letterbox then the person who stole it knows that you will be issued another one soon. If your letterbox remains unlocked and unsecured then all they have to do, sadly, is come by and steal the new one when it arrives.

Avatar
Lady Penelope
StrataGuru
Members

Full Members
Forum Posts: 424
Member Since:
13/02/2016
sp_UserOnlineSmall Online
11
04/09/2017 - 6:46 pm
sp_Permalink sp_Print

Question - A Tenancy advocacy group may also be able to assist you.

https://tenants.org.au/?gclid=EAIaIQobChMIgMTD4JGL1gIVzQYqCh09qgbaEAAYAiAAEgJlCPD_BwE

Avatar
JimmyT
Admin
Forum Posts: 4496
Member Since:
06/01/2014
sp_UserOfflineSmall Offline
12
04/09/2017 - 6:47 pm
sp_Permalink sp_Print

Question said
... the agent said on august 11 that she would contact strata regarding the repair, but then kept refusing to contact them a second time because "it's entirely up to strata, I cannot push them". 

That is a dereliction of duty, by any measure.  If the agent won't push them, who will?

I think I would escalate this by saying to the agent that you have no choice but to pay for the repairs yourself and that you will then charge them for the repairs.

Under Section 106 (5) of the Act, the landlord can demand compensation from the owners corp for the repairs that they (the OC) should have done.

I would try not to get stuck in the vortex between an incompetent agent, a lazy strata manager and an uninterested strata committee.  Get it done, send them a bill and charge them through Fair Trading if they refuse to pay it.

But first, read this fact sheet from the Tenants Union website and in particular the comments on emergency repairs and security. 

Avatar
Austman
Victoria
Flat(chat)Mate
Members
Forum Posts: 304
Member Since:
22/01/2014
sp_UserOfflineSmall Offline
13
04/09/2017 - 7:03 pm
sp_Permalink sp_Print

AFAIK while urgent repairs are certainly part of RTAs - allowing a tenant to do the repair to the LL's property - I can't seem to see where they are part of OC Acts. 

I'm not sure a common property letter box lock would be classed as "urgent" anyway.

In all my stratas, there is an after hours number to call for emergencies.  And they arrange any genuine urgent/emergency repairs.

I sure hope they would accept a call from a tenant!

IMO this situation is both the Strata Manager and the LL's agent behaving badly.

Avatar
Lady Penelope
StrataGuru
Members

Full Members
Forum Posts: 424
Member Since:
13/02/2016
sp_UserOnlineSmall Online
14
04/09/2017 - 8:12 pm
sp_Permalink sp_Print

Rule 32 of the Rules of Conduct for Real estate agents and Property managers states:

http://www.fairtrading.nsw.gov.....nduct.page

"32. Maintenance or repairs of rental property

An agent managing a rental property must promptly respond to and, subject to the principal’s instructions, attend to all requests by a tenant for maintenance of, or repairs to, the property.

If the principal has instructed that a repair not be carried out, the agent must inform the principal if the principal’s failure to carry out the repair would constitute a breach of any tenancy agreement in force in relation to the property."

The RTA 2010 states at Section 70:

 Locks and other security devices

(1)  A landlord must provide and maintain the locks or other security devices necessary to ensure that the residential premises are reasonably secure.

This section would include foyer locks, garage locks, door locks, window locks, storage cage locks and any other locks connected to the Lot such as letter box locks.

Even though the locks are technically the responsibility of the OC the obligation for their repair under the RTA lies with the landlord i.e. the Owner.

Section 62 defines "residential premises"  as "everything provided with the premises (whether under the residential tenancy agreement or not) for use by the tenant."

A letter box is used by the Tenant. 

Section 62 defines "urgent repairs" as  "any work needed to repair any one or more of the following:

(k)  any fault or damage that causes the residential premises to be unsafe or insecure"

Section 64   Urgent repairs to residential premises states: 

(1)  A landlord must, not later than 14 days after being given a written notice from the tenant, reimburse the tenant for the reasonable costs of making urgent repairs to the residential premises.

(2)  A landlord is required to reimburse the costs only if:

(a)  the state of disrepair did not result from a breach of the residential tenancy agreement by the tenant, and

(b)  the tenant gave the landlord or the landlord’s agent notice of the state of disrepair or made a reasonable attempt to do so, and

(c)  the tenant gave the landlord or landlord’s agent a reasonable opportunity to make the repairs, if notice was given, and

(d)  the tenant has made a reasonable attempt to arrange for a licensed or otherwise properly qualified person nominated in the residential tenancy agreement to carry out the repairs, if such a person is so nominated, and

(e)  the repairs were carried out, if appropriate, by licensed or otherwise properly qualified persons, and

(f)  as soon as practicable after the repairs were carried out, the tenant gave the landlord or landlord’s agent, or made a reasonable attempt to give the landlord or landlord’s agent, a written notice setting out details of the repairs and the costs of the repairs, together with the receipts or copies of receipts for costs paid by the tenant.

(3)  The maximum amount that a tenant is entitled to be reimbursed under this section is $1,000 or such other amount as may be prescribed by the regulations.

(4)  Nothing in this section prevents a tenant, with the consent of the landlord, from making repairs to the residential premises and being reimbursed for the costs of those repairs.

(5)  This section is a term of every residential tenancy agreement.

It is for these reasons that the Tenant should have the authority to undertake the repair of the letterbox lock and go through the Agent rather than the Strata Manager to seek compensation.

Avatar
scotlandx
StrataGuru
Members

Full Members

Moderators
Forum Posts: 701
Member Since:
02/02/2012
sp_UserOfflineSmall Offline
15
04/09/2017 - 11:35 pm
sp_Permalink sp_Print

The agent and strata manager are clearly dropkicks, so get the letterbox fixed, demand reimbursement in writing, and if it were me I would be calling the Department of Fair Trading.  And tell your bank to send things like cards to a branch for you to collect.

Avatar
Question
FlatChatter
Members
Forum Posts: 4
Member Since:
04/09/2017
sp_UserOfflineSmall Offline
16
05/09/2017 - 11:25 am
sp_Permalink sp_Print

The strata manager just got the locksmith to replace the lock...was surprisingly fast. I have a feeling the agent either didn't contact him previously, or he missed her email. There's a slight snag in that the locksmith only gave us two keys when there are five people in the apartment, but that should be much easier to resolve.

Avatar
Austman
Victoria
Flat(chat)Mate
Members
Forum Posts: 304
Member Since:
22/01/2014
sp_UserOfflineSmall Offline
17
05/09/2017 - 3:38 pm
sp_Permalink sp_Print

Lady Penelope said

 

It is for these reasons that the Tenant should have the authority to undertake the repair of the letterbox lock and go through the Agent rather than the Strata Manager to seek compensation.  

In apartment buildings it's not even property that belongs to the lot. It's a common property facility maintained by the OC. It's the same with building foyer locks and any other common building facilities.  Not even a lot owner has the authority to repair those themselves.  So while the lot owner has the responsibility to get them fixed for their tenant under the RTA, those repairs have to be done through the actual owner - the OC.

A letter box lock might not be so important, I agree.  But foyer locks and the like are a different matter.

I've been though the situation several times with tenants "repairing" common property locks themselves.   It has ended up causing issues for everyone - the OC, the lot owner, the owner's agent and the tenant or the next tenant.

A letter box lock might not matter so much - although some OCs use a master keyed system for letter boxes.  But I'd draw the line at allowing a tenant or even a lot owner to make other unapproved common property repairs.

Forum Timezone: Australia/Sydney

Most Users Ever Online: 518

Currently Online: dingo, Lady Penelope
29 Guest(s)

Currently Browsing this Page:
1 Guest(s)

Top Posters:

kiwipaul: 613

struggler: 459

Austman: 304

Billen Ben: 232

Millie: 203

Kangaroo: 168

considerate band fair: 167

Cosmo: 166

FlatChatFan: 147

daphne diaphanous: 137

Newest Members:

Tim349VicPl

Mariner

aylwardgame

reddant

danih

slicendice

Maun Warrior

Rayjen

Swaye1956

nitin964

Forum Stats:

Groups: 4

Forums: 46

Topics: 4279

Posts: 20222

 

Member Stats:

Guest Posters: 241

Members: 4871

Moderators: 4

Admins: 1

Administrators: JimmyT

Moderators: Whale, Sir Humphrey, scotlandx, Lady Penelope