This topic contains 8 replies, has 4 voices, and was last updated by Jimmy-T(from Victoria) 1 month ago.

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  • #39168
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    Gettingthere
    Flatchatter
    (from Victoria)

    Hi all,

    We have had this apartment for 8 years, but have only recently decided to move into it. During these 8 years, there is a couple who runs the place and basically what they say , goes. No one questions it . They have been there the longest.

    In the past few years, we noted that repairs were not being done or being done very cheaply. The wife is the Chairperson. She has total control . Tradespeople are given instructions that they are not to talk to anyone except her. A lot of disturbing discrepancies have occurred.

    We are having our AGM. I am on the Committee and have started to ask lots of questions. We have been sent the financial statements, which just categorises expenses. I have requested the invoices. The Strata Manager sent some but said that if I want all of them , we will be charged for the time taken.

    I dont know what I can or cannot request without rocking the boat. Are we supposed to accept the amounts in the Financial statement without knowing what they individually consisted of ? We do not have a Treasurer or Secretary. Is the Chairperson supposed to check the amounts?  If there are no check measures, then there is no transparency and scope for fraud.

    • This topic was modified 1 month ago by Jimmy-T.
    #39178
    Jimmy-T
    Jimmy-T
    Keymaster

    The word “must” doesn’t appear in strata law often enough for my tastes, but it does turn up in section 107 of the Victorian Owners Corporation Act (below) saying that the strata committee must appoint a secretary.

    If I were you, I would nominate myself for the role secretary, assuming you are elected on to the committee at the AGM  (and you might want to keep this plan under your hat until the first commitee meeting after the AGM). FYI: In Victoria and NSW, the office-bearers are elected by the committee, not the whole ownership at the AGM.

    That will give you a level of oversight and control without having to challenge every decision just to find out what’s going on. Tread lightly, though.  If the chair sees this as a challenge, she might wrangle the votes to elect herself in both roles.

    The role of secretary in a strata committee is potentially the most powerful if the incumbent chooses it to be.  He or she calls the meetings, sets the agendas and issues the minutes, as defined by the Act.

    Regarding the strata manager charges, it depends very much of the kind of contract you have with the SM. If it’s a more expensive “all-in” contract, where you pay a fee for complete service, then the strata manager is not really being reasonable.  If it’s a cheaper (up front, at least) “Schedule B” contract, where the strata manager can charge for every letter opened and phone call made or received, then you are stuck with that until the contract runs out.

    107. Secretary of committee
    The members of the committee must appoint a member of the committee to be the secretary of the committee.

    NB:  This post was originally answered under the mistaken assumption that “Getting There” was in NSW – now corrected.

    • This reply was modified 1 month ago by Jimmy-T.
    #39183
    Avatar
    Flame Tree
    Flatchatter

    Im not over-awed by any of the top 3 roles: chairman, secretary or treasurer. Those 3 roles no longer have the sway that they did in years back before it became necessary to have a paid and professional manager. But they need to be locally filled and they and your committee (most are large enough complexes to require a set number) make the decisions on the ground and instruct the hands-on guys to initiate things. But they are not a law unto them self so can certainly be challenged or inspired to take on board what other owners prefer.

    It is good that some folks get underway and keep some control and it can be good and efficient when you have a good servant in place, but a pain when the opposite. Get to know the local state legislation and know your bylaws to use that to your advantage, as well as stay in friendly contact with your professional manager who should give you unbiased guidance beyond the assumptions your current chairman’s may have.

    You as do other owners have full access to your  records but typically need to pay a fee to the professional manager to see these at there premises, as well as pay per page to get copies.

    #39190
    Jimmy-T
    Jimmy-T
    Keymaster

    Flame Tree wrote:

    You as do other owners have full access to your  records but typically need to pay a fee to the professional manager to see these at there premises, as well as pay per page to get copies.

    Which why I suggested Getting There becomes an officer – then they won’t have to pay and scrutinising receipts will be part of their role, rather than seen as almost an accusation of some wrongdoing.

    • This reply was modified 1 month ago by Jimmy-T.
    #39224
    Avatar
    Gettingthere
    Flatchatter
    Chat-starter
    (from Victoria)

    Hi all,  Thank you for the very helpful advice. From the half a dozen invoices that I have been sent, I have already found that our Manager has paid $2000 plus for a service that we did not receive.  A quote was given but the Committee did not end up going ahead with it.  How should I deal with this? Should the chairperson have picked this up?

    #39254
    Avatar
    Flame Tree
    Flatchatter

    It’s part of the reason why having a few involved and keeping things in check is important. Sometimes the chief, as in your building, finds it easier to do most things themself esp when other committee members are not trusted/capable or apply themself, but when they make mistakes these can get through. I suggest getting to know your state’s legislation and bylaws so you can raise your concerns and back this up by quoting legislation which folks will want to know their committee and members are adherring to, and that alone can help right the ship.

    I’m not convinced that needing to be on the executive is always necessary, esp if you don’t think you are up for the effort to get things corrected over the year you will be volunteering for. If you are: great, but you are on your committee already, but if you choose not to and can’t get them to act friendly in this regard act in your own best interest, even better if you can get others concerned as you are to help carry the load.

    #39278
    Jimmy-T
    Jimmy-T
    Keymaster

    This is an area where your diplomatic skills are more important that your accounting abilities.  Your biggest challenge is going to be getting the Chair to relinquish some of her power – after that it’s not vital for you to examine the books forensically – just let it be known that there are checks and balances.

    Regarding Flame Tree’s comments about being aware of your state’s strata laws, one of them, as mentioned above, is that the committee must appoint a secretary.  That is your pathway into oversight.

    #39307
    Avatar
    Austman
    Flatchatter

    On a technical note for Victoria, I note that each time my committees are elected (at each AGM) there is another motion that delegates the functions and duties of the secretary to the strata manager.   That’s in the rest of s.107:

    107 Secretary of committee  The members of the committee must appoint a member of the committee or the manager of the owners corporation to be the secretary of the committee.

    It seems that many strata managers in Victoria prefer it that way.

    So Victorian strata committees, at least in my experience, where a strata manager exists, tend to be comprised of the chairperson and the rest of the committee.

    The committee chairperson technically doesn’t have that much more authority than other committee members.   They can also call meetings and have a casting vote but that’s about it.   In reality however, they tend to be the main point of contact for the OC and are the main interface to the manager.

     

     

    #39322
    Avatar
    Gettingthere
    Flatchatter
    Chat-starter
    (from Victoria)

    A lot of mistakes are being made which are costing us money. The Victorian Legislation states that there should be due care and diligence. How can that be tied in with “checks and balances”. The chairperson will say that she is checking the Manager. How can I diplomatically say that she is not and that a third person is required.

     

    #39352
    Avatar
    Austman
    Flatchatter

    I would first inspect the strata records, that should be held by the manager and establish the facts.

    S.146 of the OC Act gives you that right, free of charge (to you).

     

     

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