Roundup:  Mr Valentine ponders training committee members


Photograph by John Donegan


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.


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