Apartment residents shouldn’t think they can rush back to “normal” life, just because some businesses are opening up, says the president of Australia’s strata managers.
“It doesn’t mean strata corporations can return to normal operations just yet,” Andrew Chambers said. “It’s not the all-clear to start using communal facilities again.”
As state governments re-examine the COVID-19 restrictions imposed earlier this year, some strata property owners feel that strata operations can return to normal Mr Chambers said in a Press release from Strata Community Association (SCA), the peak body for the strata management industry.
As restrictions gradually ease, owners looking to re-open social or recreational facilities, must exercise extreme caution, he warns. Strata corporations are what owners corps and bodies corporate are called in West Australia, where Mr Chambers is based.
“When COVID-19 was declared a pandemic in March, Public Health Orders were put in place which affected what we can do in strata environments. They were applied to strata schemes to help residents adopt common-sense practices that keep everyone safe and reduce liability on owner’s corporations.
“The restrictions were imposed on gyms, pools, hot tubs and meeting or social spaces and other amenities to contain the spread of COVID-19.
“Strata corporations (sic) may soon be able to start re-opening some closed social or recreational facilities but must do so with caution under advice from health authorities.”
With more than two million Australians living in strata, Mr Chambers said property owners may see a rise in people using lifts, shared facilities and lobbies.
“But we urge people to continue practising social distancing and good hygiene and limiting the number of people in lifts,” Mr Chambers said.
“All strata owners have a duty of care to ensure their property is a safe environment that doesn’t pose a potential risk to the health and safety of neighbours and anyone who visits.”
Mr Chambers said this duty of care extended to contractors or employees to ensure safe workplaces for people carrying out essential maintenance.
And with more people at home in the last few months, there has been a significant increase in the need for more maintenance with cleaning and disinfecting, garbage disposal, plumbing, water, utilities and other issues which add to expenses.
This prompted an earlier call from SCA for strata owners to keep up ongoing property maintenance during the pandemic because cancellation of any maintenance work would have a severe impact on the future workflow and budgets of strata ecosystems.
“As more people have been working from home, many have decided to renovate their homes and while it is important to keep carrying out ongoing maintenance, it may not be the right time to renovate,” Mr Chambers said.
“If you are not under the pressure of a renovation timeline, you might want to rethink it during the public health crisis for a variety of reasons including the possible impact of noise to others who are also at home.
“Building contractors may be prevented from finishing the work due to staffing issues or forced closures and the building industry may be impacted by a shortage of materials and products, causing delays.”
The advice from SCA is:
- Avoid the use of common areas or shared facilities, as these are areas highly susceptible to germs and viruses;
- When using a communal laundry room, wash your hands before and after using the facility. Ensure you use detergent and a hot water wash, and using the dryer is recommended. Remember to maintain social distancing;
- Arrange for parcel deliveries to be left at the front door of your apartment or the lobby area, where necessary. Use gloves to take receipt of packages and dispose of the packaging immediately;
- Stay up-to-date with information from the Australian Government and your public health authority. Restrictions around what facilities people can use are changing quickly and you don’t want to put yourself or others at risk.
Flatchatters will find a comprehensive list of links for advice and information here.