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
Roundup:  Is it time we certified committee members?
sp_BlogLinkWhite Read the original blog post
Avatar
JimmyT
Admin
Forum Posts: 5094
Member Since:
06/01/2014
sp_UserOfflineSmall Offline
1
03/04/2018 - 6:26 pm
sp_Permalink sp_Print

 

Photograph by John Donegan

In a post-broadcast chat with James Valentine the other day (you can hear the Podcast here), he raised the issue of qualifications for strata committee members.

James, who chaired a discussion at the recent strata managers’ owners day, reckoned a lot of strata problems would be solved if members of committees had to get some sort of training.

He’s not the first person to have raised this and it’s a very appealing thought – not to have to explain to a procession of people that there are rules and regulations and that “common sense” is often the least appropriate attribute to offer in the strata sphere.

In any case, the argument has always been that it’s hard enough to get unqualified people to stand for committees, without expecting them to turn up at evening classes and get a piece of paper with their name inscribed on it.

And it has to be said that the government (here in NSW, at least) has been veering away from anything that involves pumping money into strata for education or anything like it.

Strata Community Australia’s excellent online training programme for strata committee members expired when the strata laws changed in 2016.  It was an expensive operation and I am reliably informed that the state government is in no hurry to fund its replacement.

Also, according to representatives of Fair Trading and NCAT at the recent Owners Corporation Network Owners Day (aka Flat Chat Live) both organisations are overworked and underfunded, so don’t expect any help there.

Having said all that, the idea of properly certified strata committee members has massive appeal.

You don’t want to discourage people from volunteering but how about anyone who wants to stand for a second term on a strata committee would have to have completed a short course during their first term?

Or … anyone elected to an office like chair or secretary would need to complete a course?

Or … we employ professional committee members who are not strata managers but are properly trained in the basics of strata law AND mediation, and who are paid to attend strata committee meetings in that capacity?

Any of these would be better than a system where you are dependent on Fair Trading fact sheets, strata managers who may be brilliant but, occasionally, are considerably less so, and enthusiastic amateurs who either don’t know or don’t want to know.

Why? The latest batch of questions from the Forum are an insight into how a little knowledge could go a long, long way.

  • Downstairs owner has started Fair Trading proceedings on my timber floor – just when I put my property on the market. THAT’S HERE.
  • Strata manager has missed the deadline for installing child safety locks. THAT’S HERE.
  • Do I really need a by-law to renovate my bathroom? THAT’S HERE.
  • My floating floor was flooded by a neighbour’s garden hose. Whose insurance should cover the damage? THAT’S HERE.
  • Can a strata committee just vote to replace a strata manager? THAT’S HERE.

And, of course, by the time you’ve read these, there will be another batch of strata brainteasers on the Flat Chat Forum.

 

Avatar
Cosmo
NSW Regional
Flat(chat)Mate
Members
Forum Posts: 194
Member Since:
20/10/2011
sp_UserOfflineSmall Offline
2
04/04/2018 - 8:42 am
sp_Permalink sp_Print

Jimmy, I think you hit the nail on the head when you said ” the argument has always been that it’s hard enough to get unqualified people to stand for committees, without expecting them to turn up at evening classes and get a piece of paper with their name inscribed on it. “

Especially for small stratas it is not so much of formal qualifications as people not being transparent and following common sense and courtesy (not being so common these days).

Do we need a cutoff like the old definition of a small strata (it used to me from memory less than a 100 owners)?  I would say 50 would be better.  

Avatar
mortdale
Newbie
Members
Forum Posts: 1
Member Since:
26/02/2017
sp_UserOfflineSmall Offline
3
04/04/2018 - 11:05 am
sp_Permalink sp_Print

Being on an OC is thankless, stressful, tedious. I would think there are very few souls out there who would put their hands up if they didn’t feel that there was no other choice. Imposing training obligations on them would just drive even more away. House owners have just as much capacity to muck up the lives of others and no one’s talking about new knowledge obligations on them. Even unit owners can wreak havoc on a building block. Councillors on local govt Don’t have to have specific qualifications.

This system of “identify a problem, pass a new law” has already made strata living a bureaucratic nightmare. Take one example. Child safety locks. We had our common windows protected with heavy meshing. As such we didn’t need child safety locks on those windows but the cost of Certifying no necessity was four times the cost of inserting locks.

Avatar
Flame Tree
Flat(chat)Mate
Members
Forum Posts: 66
Member Since:
06/02/2018
sp_UserOfflineSmall Offline
4
04/04/2018 - 6:48 pm
sp_Permalink sp_Print sp_EditHistory

Training for some or all owners’ representatives should be mandatory in some form. Otherwise you get folks without a clue affecting your enjoyment and asset.

Tally up the total value of apartments in your complex and consider if you want any old, untrained volunteer to make decisions on your collective behalf.

Or, they can make decisions and give approvals that is actually against the Act, and if so, it’s you as owners who pay for any rectifications.

Or, you get a few old dears at the helm who mix a bit of fact with some self serving fiction that hoodwinks or intimidates newbies.

Or, you get folks onboard without the time in their schedule to give the job the time and respect it deserves.

Or, you get folks who don’t know their legal or moral obligations to the job.

I’ve heard a whisper that Queensland might be falling towards having professional managers oversee all the committee decision making and job executions. I can certainly see the value in that for quality, and taking the stress out of being on a committee in the first place.

Avatar
JimmyT
Admin
Forum Posts: 5094
Member Since:
06/01/2014
sp_UserOfflineSmall Offline
5
04/04/2018 - 6:55 pm
sp_Permalink sp_Print

Flame Tree said

I’ve heard a whisper that Queensland might be falling towards having professional managers oversee all the committee decision making and job executions. I can certainly see the value in that for quality, and taking the stress out of being on a committee in the first place.  

It’s a good idea … but isn’t that kind of what strata managers are supposed to do?

And who would choose the manager?  If it’s the committee, then some managers will toe the party line rather than risk losing their jobs.

And you would want rock-solid certification.  Not one single strata manager in NSW has ever been deregistered for incompetence.  Not one!

Strata in all the Eastern states should be its own government department with its own tribunal system – then we will sort the wheat from the chaff. 

Avatar
dech
Flat(chat)Mate
Members
Forum Posts: 76
Member Since:
15/08/2011
sp_UserOfflineSmall Offline
6
04/04/2018 - 7:31 pm
sp_Permalink sp_Print

    Around 18 years ago I supplied the glossy “Strata Living” booklet from the NSW govt.  to my then fellow E.C. members.  From memory it made either no mention or a vague reference of when a Special resolution is required or that the EC needed to have an agenda and minutes for all decisions.  They may well have made the effort to leaf through it and the remaining member subsequently thinks that it’s open slather apart from some rules on AGM’s, insurance etc.  The Strata Mgr. appears to have a similar level of knowledge (or a business model which says: Don’t bother or confuse committee members with all that stuff for the “grownups”; keep it simple; one or two individuals take power and do what they see fit and keep paying our fees).

   A requirement that Strata committee members sign a document stating that they have read and understand say a two A4 page guide in 14pt font, perhaps with a few points in bold would be a useful start.

Avatar
Lady Penelope
StrataGuru
Members

Moderators

Full Members
Forum Posts: 669
Member Since:
13/02/2016
sp_UserOfflineSmall Offline
7
04/04/2018 - 7:33 pm
sp_Permalink sp_Print sp_EditHistory

There is nothing in the latest Queensland Government BCCM publication “Common Ground” to indicate that QLD intends to change the way Body Corps are run or managed. In fact, the latest issue (Number 17) has an item about Committees and who is eligible to be on a Committee but nothing about any Committee overseers.

https://publications.qld.gov.au/dataset/bccm-common-ground-e-newsletter

With regard to training for committee members, the Qld government provides a comprehensive free on line training program for committee members (and any interested person):

https://www.qld.gov.au/law/housing-and-neighbours/body-corporate/legislation-and-bccm/services/training

Avatar
Cosmo
NSW Regional
Flat(chat)Mate
Members
Forum Posts: 194
Member Since:
20/10/2011
sp_UserOfflineSmall Offline
8
05/04/2018 - 8:39 am
sp_Permalink sp_Print

My experiences are that for small stratas (my experiences are of around 7 lots) there are only slight differences between the practical  everyday obligations of strata and maintaining a house or a few cars.  Yet how many owners undergo formal training to do this?

At a 6 owner strata I was involved in one owner wanted to engage a ‘risk management’ engineer to come out and do a report.  His major concern being legal liability.  I argued that if owners kept their eyes open and used common sense we were not at any more exposure than a diligent single home owner.  Anyway the owner put enough of a scare into the others that we spent $5900 on a report that highlighted not one major current fault but nit picked all sorts of immaterial potential faults (but we got a very impressive glossy brochure).  

The same owner convinced the owners corporation that engaging a professional Strata Manager was the only way to ensure strict compliance under the laws.  This resulted in our levys increasing by 120% but not thing improving either administratively or in terms of the maintenance of the property.

I am not arguing that certification of owners and engaging professionals should never be done.  Keeping of accounts and paperwork etc need doing but it is not that difficult eg we have a bank account that every owner can view but requires two owners authorisations to do a transaction.  However there seems to be an attitude for strata that engaging a professional negates the obligation of owners to be honest, transparent and take a bit of responsibility.

Avatar
Flame Tree
Flat(chat)Mate
Members
Forum Posts: 66
Member Since:
06/02/2018
sp_UserOfflineSmall Offline
9
05/04/2018 - 10:42 pm
sp_Permalink sp_Print

The Queensland thinking I’m reliably told was folks were appreciating getting the maintenance out of amateur hands/decisions and handled by professionals for the merits that would bring. Like the paperwork managers do now on behalf of chair/sec/treasurer. Don’t shoot the messenger, unsure where the thinking is at, but it is legit.

Avatar
Lady Penelope
StrataGuru
Members

Moderators

Full Members
Forum Posts: 669
Member Since:
13/02/2016
sp_UserOfflineSmall Offline
10
06/04/2018 - 9:03 am
sp_Permalink sp_Print

Flame Tree – The authority already exists within the Body Corp legislation to hand over to the Body Corporate Manager as much or as little of the duties of the individual committee members as they chose to hand over. Some Committees do almost no “work” and have almost no members. That is all well and good when things are running smoothly.

However, if all of the roles and responsibilities are handed over to the Body Corp Manager and the Committee are excluded then it becomes tricky when the Body Corporate Manager needs to be replaced. 

That it why there are provisions within the Act that allow the Committee to take back the roles that they were granted in the Legislation at any time that they chose. 

There are often misconceptions about the roles of the BC and the BCM. Below is an article that may be useful:

https://www.abcm.com.au/news/article/commissioners-corner-the-strata-managers-role-and-misconceptions-qld

Avatar
excathedra
Flat(chat)Mate
Members
Forum Posts: 97
Member Since:
03/01/2012
sp_UserOfflineSmall Offline
11
08/04/2018 - 5:03 pm
sp_Permalink sp_Print

I agree with JimmyT ” that it’s hard enough to get unqualified people to stand for committees, without expecting them to turn up at evening classes and get a piece of paper with their name inscribed on it.”  My ‘person specification’ for a new SC member in our small-medium (<40 units) strata is ‘young to middle-aged committed owner occupier with a background in business or a profession’.  Unfortunately most of the people who meet that standard are committed to building careers and their relationships, and are difficult to persuade.  When you omit the absent investors, the pool of available talent tends to become rather shallow.  I probably just squeaked into my specification when I joined over 15 years ago as a strata neophyte, but I did come from a background of compliance-related work in senior management and had the benefit of learning on the job from experienced predecessors and strata managers.  I think that I can claim that my experience compensates to some extent for my now-advanced age.  Our current committee does benefit from blending long-standing owner-occupiers with some promisingly keen and well-qualified newcomers.  If anyone seems rusted-on, it is because they are committed and there are no willing replacements in sight.

Avatar
Sir Humphrey
Canberra
StrataGuru
Members

Full Members

Moderators
Forum Posts: 1051
Member Since:
19/04/2011
sp_UserOfflineSmall Offline
12
09/04/2018 - 8:48 pm
sp_Permalink sp_Print

“Is it time we certified committee members?”  Well, you’d have to be crazy…  and there are certainly one or two I’d like to have certified. 

But seriously, I think it is great that courses and self-education materials are available but they should not be compulsory. Most of the committee members I have served with did a fine job without formal training and diligently sought good advice or read more carefully when they had the good sense to know they needed to know more about something. 

Forum Timezone: Australia/Sydney

Most Users Ever Online: 518

Currently Online: dustyrusty
14 Guest(s)

Currently Browsing this Page:
1 Guest(s)

Top Posters:

Whale: 1584

kiwipaul: 584

struggler: 458

Austman: 342

Millie: 212

Billen Ben: 205

Cosmo: 194

considerate band fair: 160

Boronia: 142

FlatChatFan: 140

Newest Members:

Tho2

neilja

Roger Ramjet

nattsimpson

Hex

Pompey43

bestbuyfloor123

DavidS

aussievilkas

PRASANJIT

Forum Stats:

Groups: 3

Forums: 40

Topics: 4890

Posts: 23253

 

Member Stats:

Guest Posters: 243

Members: 5591

Moderators: 6

Admins: 1

Administrators: JimmyT

Moderators: Sir Humphrey, scotlandx, Christopher Jones, Lady Penelope, Stratabox.com.au, Jimmy-T