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  • #37053

    Hi flat chat,

    I’m in NSW and sometimes I get confused as the role of strata and where there interests and representation lie etc..

    To me on face value, they represent the requests and wants to the Owners corporation of the strata plan/building they have a contract with(the OC of that building or strata plan, that the strata agency manage and have a contract with)…

    And they liaise with the strata plan strata committee to manage the building effectively..

    In other words they are not a “voice or a lawyer” for residents in that specific strata plan number so to speak etc, merely just a messenger for residents if they have any complaints about say common property matters in the building that the residents live in etc..

    Just wanted to raise this, as sometimes I get confused about the role of strata agencies within a building and the type of professional relations they have with residents in the buildings they have a contract to manage…


    Cheers, Matt.

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  • #37055
    Sir Humphrey

    The buck stops with the executive committee and the Owner’s Corporation. Managing agents sometime run things by default because the committee or OC doesn’t. However, the committee and OC have the authority to instruct the managing agent, even against the managing agent’s advice or preference (so long as it would not be illegal). The managing agent should give advice to the committee and owners because they are employed by the OC to be expert in OC management but ultimately it is the committee (or the OC at a general meeting) that is responsible for decisions.

    The managing agent’s function is simply to assist the committee undertaking its roles. So, for example, a managing agent might do all the mechanics of accounting, receiving levies and paying invoices for services and products to the OC, but the treasurer is responsible to satisfy the committee that those functions are being performed properly.

    If the managing agent is saying or doing something you don’t like, talk to a committee member. The committee represents you as a member of the OC. The managing agent is just an employee of the OC, albeit one who might be able to provide good advice to any OC member or the committee.


    The exception to what Sir Humphrey has outlined would be the statutorily appointed strata manager (try say that three times with a mouthful of muesli). The statutory manager is appointed by NCAT in situations where a block is dysfunctional to the point that it is not operating properly under the terms of the Act.

    That can cover a multitude of sins, from failure to hold meetings, through neglect of common property, to out and out corruption with committee members illegally granting themselves special privileges.  In the case of a statutory appointment, the Owners Corporation can cease to exist as a controlling body for the duration, although there are provisions under the law for the Tribunal to specify the role of the manager (levy setting and bill payment, for instance).

    However, in most cases, the owners have ceded control of their building to a manager until such times as they can show themselves to be capable of running things properly.

    Having a strata manager statutorily appointed to a seriously dysfunctional block can be one of those “be careful what you wish for” moments as they are, on the one hand, expected to do things by the book, and on the other accountable to no one, so they can hire their favoured tradies at inflated rates, if they so desire.

    The point is, the owners of the building have a mountain to climb if the realised belatedly that they have made a mistake.  The standard appointment of an SM is one year, usually extended for a second at their request.

    Otherwise, as Sir Humphrey said, the strata manager is employed by the owners corporation and usually instructed by the committee.  However, in a few buildings the power chain gets twisted out of shape and you find the manager is instructing the committee and the owners at a general meeting (where the real power lies) just go along with whatever they are told.


    Matt wrote:

    I’m in NSW and sometimes I get confused as the role of strata and where there interests and representation lie etc..

    It would probably help your thinking if you stopped using the generic term “strata”.  In NSW and Victoria the owners as a group are members of the Owners Corporation (Body Corporate in Queensland), by dint of ownership of their lot.  This is a club to which you belong whether you want to or not.

    At the risk of repeating Sir Humphrey’s explanation above, the Owners Corporation can make decisions about the strata scheme – apartment block or townhouses –  at a general meeting.  They are required to hold at least one general meeting every year  (the AGM) at which they elect the Strata Committee and decide on levies.

    The committee acts on behalf of the owners corp but can make many decisions on their own (except those that require special resolutions). The owners at a general meeting can rescind or over-ride decisions of the committee.

    The strata manager can also be delegated to make decisions on behalf of the committee and Owners Corp (like issuing breach notices) but they are ultimately acting under the instructions of the committee and the OC.

    To put this in parliamentary terms, the owners are parliament, the strata committee is the Cabinet, the chair is the Prime Minister and the strata manager is the Civil Service (not the monarch, although some may disagree).


    Well said that clarifies a lot of my points… In my experience, the strata managers i’ve dealt with act more like the monarch or “judge/jury/and executioner” rather than the humble public servant doing his or his civil service for the community(the OC of that strata plan number) they represent…

    Also in my experience when a resident complains about matters of common-property or making complaints about building managers, the strata [manager] always mostly sides with the strata-committees opinion not the resident making the complaint.. I say good luck when making a complaint about a building manager/or requests for alterations on common property to be paid for by the OC , the Strata [manager] will in my experience always take the side of whatever it’s paymaster, the OC opinion or decision is…

    And as not every person currently living in a building is an owner(loads of tenants, and other occupiers of varied definitions eg living with there partner who is the owner but is not a tenant as they haven’t signed a lease to live in there partners apartment) etc..

    But yeah in my experience, I’ve found the strata agencies i’ve dealt with have many conflict of interests and certainly make no secret of the fact that they are not a “voice/trade union rep/or lawyer” for residents in the buildings they manage, but they are a voice for the OC that they have the contract with…

    Some residents think the strata agency of the building they live in are a representative for them, i say think again and check out the role of strata [managers]. As I’ve made complaints about common property or building managers in buildings iv’e lived in, and the only attitude i got from the strata agency was “biased supporting of the OC”.

    The non owning resident in a building is merely just an annoying pest for the strata agency when making a complaint about the OC(who pays them$). there loyalty lies with the OC$ not with the humble non owning resident…



    Every three years, the strata management contract is going to come up for renewal.  The committee will do its “research” (because no one else will) and will come up with its favoured candidate for a renewed contract.

    So, in a dispute between residents and their committee, which side is the strata manager most likely to take.

    Fortunately, we have Section 232 of the Act that allows any owner or tenant to seek orders at a Tribunal, forcing the committee to do their job.

    A smart strata manager will guide their committee into doing the right thing without necessarily taking sides.  A bad strata manager will encourage a “them and us” mentality.  As with everything else in life, it comes down to the quality of the people, not the profession.

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