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  • #51159
    Darnell
    Flatchatter

    Desperately seeking advice. I’m on a Strata Committee which is dysfunctional. It’s basically dominated by two men who do what they want. They hold the purse stringsand insist on managing everything. The Strata agent manage is useless and under their thumb. The rest of the committee is also useless, refusing to stand up to them because they hold the purse strings and self-serving committee members want them to sign off on expenses which shoul be personal, but instead, get paid out of the sinking fund.

    I don’t think we’ve had a formal, minuted strata meeting in ten years. The AGM is well over due. Information is selectively distributed and questions from SC members are routinely ignored. I’m labelled a trouble maker for trying to instigate due process. I am often personally abused and accused of untrue actions in emails from the two hench men. I suspect their intention is to try and kick me off the SC. What can I do to prevent this? I’m reluctant to go the route of appointing a compulsory strata manager as I appreciate it’s drastic and I’ve read the warnings. But, the buildig is in bad disrepair and my primary concern is resale value. At least a compulsory strata manager would instigate proper procedure which would improve the strata record. I want to sell my place eventually, and, at this point, it looks like I’m going to take a heavy loss on my investment.Any advice gratefully accepted.

    • This topic was modified 6 months ago by .
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  • #51476
    Jimmy-T
    Keymaster

    You have written to us before and I am sorry you have been unable to resolve your issues.

    I have only two pieces of advice – create a simple document explaining how owners are being ripped off and have it translated into the  languages spoken by the majority of owners.  Then try to get a couple of representatives onside to help organise votes in the future.

    Or apply for the appointment of a compulsory strata manager to take over the running of the building (and make sure you have a suitable candidate to go into NCAT with you) and let them start sorting things out.

     

    #51464
    fight4justice
    Flatchatter

    HOW TO DEAL WITH APATHETIC AND SILENT COMMITTEE MEMBERS FROM A LONE VOICE??

    It is quite frustrating  to learn that NSW office of Fair Trading and our court system are not able to protect the rights  of home owners from STRATA mismanagement by incompetent strata committees and their authorized strata management agents.

    I have undergone the same painful experience caused by apathetic strata committee members who have spoiled their authorized agents  in their joint action to frustrate my attempts by the  use of  opaque style of strata management, not following good business practice of transparency and accountability and using misrepresentation and push back strategies

    The strata and building managers have allowed illegal major events to proliferate by not performing their strata law compliance and enforcement duties with due diligence and care and even refuse to take corrective action after I  brought to their special attention of them and the strata committee members who have remained silent all the way up to the present.  The following are facts of the case from which I hope you can help me to resolve the deadlock

    FACTS OF THE CASE

    Since November, 2019, I joined the strata committee of an apartment complex in which I have lived since August, 2016 where the strata governance and the living conditions have deteriorated from bad to worst via the joint efforts of both the apathetic and non-responsive strata committee members  who allowed the authorized strata managing agents to do whatever they want and condone their neglect of statutory strata law compliance and law enforcement duties There are a number of actors leading to the present situation:

    Our apartment complex is  three apartment buildings under three strata schemes and managed by the same strata management company and serviced by a building management company under common ownership.  We have a full time on site building manager on duty on weekdays.

    The strata management company is relatively new to the NSW strata management industry.  The building manager company is the whole owned subsidiary of the strata management company as both are owned by the  same  proprietors. As a result there is no arms length checks and balances by the strata manager on the performance of the building manager.

    Over 90% of the population are non-English speaking migrants who are intraverted  afraid to assert their legal rights and lack of computer skills. As a result it is difficult to use majority votes in AGM due to the cultural and language barriers and computer tech skills

    The strata committee has been dominated mainly by two middle aged  non resident investor owner whose only concern is to keep spending low in order to minimize strata levy, totally ignoring the duty of reasonable care and due diligence.  Another  resident owner is an 80 year old resident whose only concern also to keep levy low and not to spend any money. All of them appear to be first timer in strata committee and lack NSW strata law and practice.    Their apathetic attitude is the worst I have ever seen in my 38 years strata living.  They remained silent all the way and never responded to all my emails about serious illegal breaches.

    As a result, the strata manager and building manager  have been cherrypicking their duties by doing just the easy routine jobs and refuse to do most of the important strata law compliance and enforcement duties. As a result,our living conditions have become filthy and disorderly with potential financial risks to all owners and fire hazards to all residents because of the continual existence of the following two major strata law breaches

    I have alerted to them the following major law breaches since November, 2019

    1. The proliferation of illegal structures (illegal added bedrooms) posing substantial financial risks to owners and fire hazards to all residents. A illegal cluster of over 18 apartment existed in February, 2020 which may be more now after the July fire inspection audit.
    2. From the inception,the Building manager has illegally devised his own policy of allowing residents and non-residents to recklessly dump trade wastes and unwanted bulky household items such as huge fridges or king size bed matresses,huge furniture  etc in the garbage rooms for temporary storage and use our cleaning contractors to move these heavy and bulky items  to collection location on council clean up dates at the expense of all the innocent owners WITHOUT THEIR KNOWLEDGE AND APPROVAL   This is a blatant departure from normal industry practice The building manager has resisted my request to account for the cost of illegal dumping for disclosure to owners and also to perform monitor and compliance duties on  such illegal dumping.
    3. Failure to repair and maintain our strata security doors and boom gates hence allowing non-residents and residents free access to our garbage rooms for free illegal dumping in our garbage rooms
    4. Our strata managing agents’ neglect has been caused since inception bythe apathetic attitude of our strata committee members. Since I became a strata committee member as Secretary, I have sent 14 emails to all the other three committee members and the strata managing agents alerting them of the  aforesaid major strata law breaches , making recommendations to rectify and remove the illegalities.
      But all the strata committee members  have remained silent, never responded or supported my initiated action.  The building manager has used their apathy as an excuse not to take any action as he claimed that though I am the Secretary, I have no mandare from the strata committee as other members have not agreed or approved by initiated proposals to rectify.
    5. The use of majority votes cannot work because there have been only a few owners about 4 to 8 owners attending out of 186 owners in the last four AGMs as nearly all of owners are not interested strata affairs.

    The strata manager and building manager have been spoiled and taking advantage of the ignorance and apathetic attitudes of both the owners and committee memebers encouraging them to keep their opaque style of management, concealing important material illegal events e using silence and push back strategies to frustrate my repeated request for corrective action.

    The other three non-resident committee members have been not co-operative by refusing to share common strata information, remaining silent and non-responsive to alerts on illegal issues.

    It appears my efforts to become a committee members in order to have a voice are in vain.  If any member of the Flat chat community with similar experience can provide me with a few effective guidance as to how to deal with my present difficult situation, I shall be most grateful and greatly relieved.

     

    • This reply was modified 5 months, 1 week ago by .
    #51187
    Strata Answers
    Flatchatter
    (from NSW)

    Hi Darnell,

    It is a sad reality of strata that no matter how blatant the breach of strata laws, fairness and equity by one or more strata committee members, the only way to stop them is for other owners and strata committee members to stand up to them.

    The sort of lobbying  mentioned by Cosmo can help achieve change, if it opens the eyes of others to what is going on and how things could be done a lot better.

    Applications to NCAT may address the more egregious actions of a bullying few, but a campaign to engage owners and open their eyes to what is going on is the only way to deal with a pervasive culture of self interest and non compliance.

    If to begin with you only have one or two allies, you can build on this by together creating a newsletter with a positive message about how your scheme could be transformed eg. Putting more of the levies into the capital works fund to pay for essential maintenance and improvements that will help maintain the value of your building. Include some pictures.

    Resist the temptation to explain to owners what is wrong with the current committee and the inequity of the actions of one or two members. This will just lead to threats of legal action for libel, probably unfounded but distracting. Remember…Owners do not want to hear bad news, no matter how bad the bad, and you will get more support in painting a vision for a better building.

    You won’t change hearts and minds in a single newsletter but regular contact with other owners can win support for your thinking. Many will be coy about being outspoken but they can help your case when it comes to the AGM.

    You mentioned that the AGM is well overdue – it has to be held once in every financial year –  If you can alert the strata manager towards holding this, think about  motions that you, and those of like mind, can put on the agenda eg. That the strata committee does not depart from the budget  / exceed budget estimates without the explicit agreement of owners. And…. most importantly stand for election to the strata committee not as single person who can be outvoted, but as a group of 2 or 3 like minded owners bent on change.

    On a more hopeful note, it is amazing how often strata bullies collapse when they sense they have more than one person against them

    Kind regards

    John Hutchinson

    m: 0418 797470  e: john.hutchinson@strataanswers.com.au

     
    S T R A T A   A N S W E R S  PTY  LTD      practical solutions for strata living
    abn 11 600 590 083
    http://www.strataanswers.com.au

     

    #51175
    Cosmo
    Flatchatter

    “It’s basically dominated by two men who do what they want. They hold the purse strings and insist on managing everything. The Strata agent manage is useless and under their thumb. The rest of the committee is also useless, refusing to stand up to them because they hold the purse strings and self-serving committee members want them to sign off on expenses which should be personal”

    You will probably find that technically the two men haven’t done anything they personally can be confronted with.  People like this make sure the minutes reflect overwhelming agreement to their actions or that others have signed off on stuff.

    I have encountered this on many occasions and many different circumstances. Do your numbers and find how many like minded owners there are.  Start the process informally outside of meetings. Discuss with the ‘likeminded’ the need to stand up to these ‘two men’ and the best issues to do it on.

    I have had both success and failure but found political lobbying is the only practical solution.

    #51170
    annoyed007
    Flatchatter

    My advice having dealt with now two dysfunctional strata committees is to bite the bullet and get your own legal advice from a strata lawyer and go to NCAT without delay about the repairs and management of the scheme. You need to play hardball sometimes.

    #51167
    Flame Tree
    Flatchatter

    You need list and photo of all concerns. This quantifies how things are. There might be as many or not as many as you first think and I’ve found doing that might give you some degree of peace at least knowing what you are dealing with. Asking others to contribute give opportunity for others to add to the list and aire their own concerns. If its individual owners at fault issue bylaw breach notices, if its committee responsibility review your State legislation to know where you all stand. Be forthright but as calm as you can and start with the things that will help you feel better if these were done and off your list. Somethings you can do yourself if they are minor or can be arranged simply and from which help your problems go away. But having been flustered for over 4 years with my own problematic old committee im now realising going hard is better than enduring things owners are entitled to and and paying for yet not receiving. Good luck.

    #51165
    BONNIE L
    Flatchatter

    Hi there, Without knowing how many owners there are, it’s hard to comment.   You don’t say either what exactly is happening to the levies if the repairs you discuss continue unaddressed.  If I’ve understood and that it’s a case of miss-spending, that’s one position and if it’s the other owners benefiting financially, that’s another.  By position, it’s whether you can make an approach for mediation at Fair Trading.  If it’s Fair Trading, it’s probably best to interest other owners who feel the same as you do.  Lastly, if it’s the strata firm in question, there is the question of who is responosible for this situation arising in the first place.  Also be careful about your own position.  By this I mean that the lack of meetings over a long period could backfire against your claims if you did choose mediation.   Others may know more.  Wishing you good luck with your decisions.

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