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SM in two-lot scheme just made matters worse
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Hamish
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05/03/2018 - 10:17 am
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I went to adjudication in 2015 to have a compulsory strata manager appointed to resolve numerous issues with a two lot strata scheme I bought into in 2012. She was useless and added to the problems.

The other lot owner has been in residence since 1989 and paid lip service to strata law with her then neighbour. In 1995 they abrogated their responsibility to strata law and shut down the admin and sinking funds, held no meetings, issued no levies, ignored repairs and maintenance.  I came along and have upset the apple cart because I want the strata scheme to function under strata law.

My villa has water ingress under the concrete slab which makes it very damp and mouldy.  I have termite infestations in old timber retaining walls on common property adjacent to my villa.  Before I could move in I had to replace three external load bearing walls which had been eaten out by termites.  My building advice was this work was absolutely necessary otherwise the roof could collapse. I had to replace a strata boundary fence collapsing due to termite damage.

My neighbor refuses to contribute to these costs because I paid less then the asking price for the villa therefore I have been adequately compensated.

The compulsory managing agent was appointed for twelve months. She appointed herself as the Executive Committee at the end of the twelve months appointment and continued to pay herself fees.  This contravened Section 237 of the SSM Act 2015.

She did not address repairs and maintenance issues in spite of a detailed list with costs from myself. She did not address a review of by laws.  She did not address a 10 year Capital Works plan for the new capital works fund, etc etc. She allowed a colorbond fence to be installed on the front boundary of the strata scheme by the other lot owner.  This fence contravenes the by-laws, SEPP and council guidelines for front fences.

I have recently applied to NCAT for the replacement of a compulsory strata manager.  I also lodged submissions for a list of repairs and maintenance to be activated including dealing with the water ingress under my villa with approval for a strata loan, removal of the front boundary fence, removal of the “illegal managing agent” and compensation for the replacement of common property due to termite damage.

The reason for approval of a strata loan is that the two lot owners are age pensioners and ad hoc special levies could be financially crippling. My neighbor refuses to agree to a strata loan and says it will put off future buyers if the strata scheme has a loan.  I say future buyers will be put off by the obvious list of repairs and maintenance issues.

The member arrived at the conference table and said he didn’t have much time and then asked the other owner’s proxy if they agreed to the appointment of a new managing agent whose name I had submitted.  The other side said they had no problem with the appointment.  He thanked them for being “so conciliatory” and made the order which he copied from the previous order made in 2015.  We were then dismissed.

When I asked what about the other parts of my submission he said the new managing agent would sort that out. You are dismissed.

So much for NCAT.

I would be asking the Minister for Fair Trading for more precise guidelines for two lot strata schemes and their management. The current system is useless. I did write to the then Minister, Dominello, over twelve months ago and my letter was referred to the Attorney General.  I am still waiting for a response. So much for good governance.

Your comments would be appreciated.

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Jimmy-T
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06/03/2018 - 8:36 pm
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I think that the adjudicator would just assume the new strata manager would go about getting all this sorted out – but I will certainly raise this with the NCAT Member at the seminar on Saturday

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Hamish
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07/03/2018 - 9:08 am
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Thank you for the response.  The first compulsory strata manager was ordered to resolve the dysfunctional issues of the strata scheme and failed due to their incompetence and unethical behavior.

I would have assumed (wrongly) that the second submission to NCAT for a compulsory strata manager to deal with four detailed separate issues which had not been addressed by the first compulsory manager would have meant more precise orders addressing my complaints. 

In the meantime heavy rain in my area over the past few days has caused storm water to ingress under my villa.  I have a dehumidifier going 24/7 and I empty 18-20 litres of water a day from my living room. God knows what the rest of the three bedroom villa would produce.  I have COPD which is a deteriorating lung disease and is not assisted by damp and mouldy conditions.

I not only question the competence of the previous strata manager but also the competence of the NCAT adjudicator.

JimmyT this is a case of “not happy Jan !!!!!!!!”.

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Hamish
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15/03/2018 - 8:50 am
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Hi JimmyT

I was very happy to hear the Saturday Forum was a success.  Strata living is a massive headache for many people.

You mentioned you would raise some questions about the matters I raised in this post.  Did you manage to ask the questions and if so did you get an answer?

I am now more than one month into the second compulsory manager and nothing has happened to deal with the issues I took to NCAT.  The recent rain in the area causes me to use a dehumidifier 24/7 and I collect 18-20 litres tank a day due to the dampness of my slab.

Strata levies have not been collected for the past 6 months because there has not been an invoice raised or notice of a bank account for the Strata scheme.

Fair Trading is useless and NCAT is inept.  Where do we go from here?

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Jimmy-T
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15/03/2018 - 11:30 am
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Sadly I didn’t get the chance to raise this issue specifically with the NCAT member – she wasn’t looking at specific cases – but generally speaking, the Member appointed the compulsory strata manager and it is now their responsibility to act on behalf of the strata scheme.  

That means that you now should start the process of mediation with the SM (who is now effectively the Owners Corp) and seek a binding agreement that they will start looking at necessary work to be done.

If you don’t get that, start proceedings at NCAT under section 232 seeking orders to compel the strata manager to get the work done.

I’m surprised that your compulsory SM is being uncooperative – didn’t you go in with them when you were seeking compulsory appointment?  Or did NCAT make that decision and pull the name out of a hat?

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Hamish
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20/03/2018 - 9:04 am
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The new managing agent was all about how terrible the strata scheme had been handled before their appointment and now they are being non committal.

I had occasion to email them yesterday to remind them that levies had not been collected since November 2017.  An invoice was necessary detailing the new bank account.

I reminded them that there had not been an AGM since September 2016.  There had not been a review of by-laws.  There had not been a 10 year capital works plan done for the capital works fund established in 2016. 

A pest inspection is supposed to be done every three months on my villa because of the damp slab and high risk of subterranean termites. All of these items and more had been discussed in detail prior to their appointment.

I asked for a “road map” to show where we were going with the issues I had taken to NCAT.  To date there is no response despite their knowledge of all the problems.

Yesterday afternoon I received an invoice for levies due.  At least I had a partial response to my morning email on the matter.

I feel I am nagging all the time just to get the basic services done but if I don’t nothing gets done.

Part of my NCAT submission was to gain an order for  a strata loan to effect some of the repairs and maintenance.  The new managing agent says that the other lot owner won’t accept a strata loan because it will be too difficult to sell her villa.  I say her villa will be difficult to sell if the dilapidation continues at the current pace and at increasing cost of repairs.

How do you pin these managing agents down to acting in a concise professional way? 

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