Every little niche of our society seems to have its own pressure group, lobbyists or even political party. So why don’t we? After all, according to the stats in the new Strata Data report, we make up 15 per cent of the population in NSW.
Well, in fact, we do have our own group. It’s called the Owners Corporation Network and it was started by disgruntled apartment owners just over 15 years ago. Since then, it has grown to be the voice for strata owners in NSW, initially, and increasingly elsewhere.
OCN board members were extensively consulted while the current (recent) strata laws were devised in NSW and have advised on the defects bond and building standards reviews.
More recently, they led the charge against the wholesale unshackling of short-term holiday rental (Airbnb) laws, and were highly influential in getting significant curbs included in forthcoming legislation – not least the ability for owners corporations to decide whether or not we want STHLs in our buildings.
OCN is our voice at the top table when the big strata issues are being discussed. However, they are parlously underfunded, despite the generous support of a number of sponsors and an occasional hand-out from the government.
Their tiny staff are seriously overworked and underpaid … for the simple reason that there isn’t enough money sloshing around, despite the fact that 15 per cent of people living in NSW are in strata apartments.
If you scroll down the page a bit, you will discover a small, simple banner ad for the Owners Corporation Network. It’s a link to their website. All I want you to do is click on it, or go straight to the OCN website, see if you think there’s something in it for you or your scheme.
If you do, contact your strata committee and ask them if your scheme is a member and if not, why not. Or you can join as an individual (for those of you where the committee is the problem rather than the solution).
Why would you join? Because there is no other truly independent voice for apartment owners and residents.
When push comes to shove and you need sound advice about what you should do (rather than just being told what you can and can’t do) you want to be able to talk to people who’ve been there and done that.
That’s why I believe we need to support the OCN and make sure it’s properly funded (especially by government) so that we have a strong independent voice as new legislation on everything from Airbnb to flammable cladding, and defects bonds to “sunset clawbacks” are debated by our MPs.
Full disclosure: I’m not a member of the OCN – independence and all that – but my partner was one of the founders. Click on the ad anyway – you’ll find it’s just like a flesh and blood version of Flat Chat.
And speaking of which, here’s a selection of the latest gripes and grumbles from the Flat Chat Forum.
- Should we deny a request for an 18th birthday party to be held in our car park, with disco and wood-fired pizza oven, blocking access to our garages all afternoon till midnight? THAT’S HERE.
- Why you should avoid hiring a building manager and strata manager from the same parent company. THAT’S HERE.
- Flatchatters to the rescue – when a strata manager had to be shown the Forum advice before they made the right moves. THAT’S HERE.
- Is my security system lot property or common property? THAT’S HERE.
- My neighbour parks his truck over our parking space lines and expects me to do the same to make room. THAT’S HERE.
There are many, many more posts on the Flat Chat Forum. Tell a friend to subscribe if they are missing out