When we started Flat Chat 15 years ago, strata managers were pretty much our Public Enemy No 1 (and we theirs, for that matter).
It’s all my fault. I once had a strata manager who started our AGMs by telling us he had been trained by Mossad to kill with his bare hands (I kid you not).
The next persuaded our committee to sign a contract that said he couldn’t be held responsible in any way for errors he made. He then spent our entire budget on fixing only six of our 60 windows that badly needed repair, .
The one after that wouldn’t do anything except organise our AGMs, collect levies and pay bills.
The next one put our company seal on a contract into which our developer – who also provided our building managers (I know, I know!!) – had slipped an additional clause that meant that if we sacked our corrupt and incompetent building services manager, we had to pay his wages until such times as they found this idiot another job.
By the way, when we tore up the contract and they threatened to sue us, we said “bring it on – this will do wonders for your property sales when it comes out in court.”
So suffice it to say that my early experiences with strata managers were not great.
But then I discovered it didn’t have to be that way. There were good, competent, professional, honest and diligent strata managers if you knew where to find them.
And since then whole profession has matured and grown in depth as well as size and while there are still the odd cowboys, there are plenty of good guys and, increasingly, girls out there. It truly is a profession, and an honourable one at that.
But what do you do about the cowboys who remain, if you are unlucky enough to end up with one?
They are supposed to be controlled by Fair Trading, but they are about as useful as a chocolate teapot in this regard.
Despite all the horror stories of strata managers who have ranged from the incompetent to the wilfully obstructive and corrupt, not one in NSW has ever had their licence terminated just for being really crap at their job.
Strata Community Australia is the professional body for strata managers, but they aren’t going to start sanctioning their own members. They’re there to support strata managers, not discipline them.
So where does that leave us? As the response to this post, fresh in today, explains, you can apply to the Tribunal (NCAT) to have a strata manager’s contract terminated or the terms altered.
Or you can push the nuclear button and have your committee and your strata manager replaced in one fell swoop, again through orders at NCAT.
For some criminally dysfunctional committees with brutally incompetent strata managers, it’s sometimes the only option.
But others might find the cure is worse than the disease. In other words, be careful what you wish for.