Flat Chat Forum NCAT – the NSW Tribunal Current Page

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  • #39000
    AvatarAttilaTheStrataManager
    Flatchatter
    Chat-starter

    Hi everyone,

    How can we increase the momentum for instigating a Royal Commission into Strata Agent/Companies?

    My pen is poised for when it is announced!

    Thanks

    • This topic was modified 1 year ago by .
Viewing 15 replies - 1 through 15 (of 19 total)
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  • #51373
    AvatarJust Asking
    Flatchatter

    Could not agree more with Jimmy T, unsubstantiated sweeping statements only serve to reduce the credibility of those making the assertion. The good strata managers would also have an interest in weeding out the poorer operators.

    Strata law is not easy or straightforward. It takes years to become a lawyer, and more years to become expert in strata law. It does not seem unreasonable to me that the educational qualification to be a strata manager should be higher. Strata managers in many circumstances strongly influence and even control major decisions, and relatively junior staff are able to deduct money from trust accounts without oversight (at least in the case of the strata management company with which I am currently familiar).

    In addition to considering the educational qualifications of strata managers, perhaps a duty of care to strata owners could be enshrined in legislation as has been done for builder’s, engineers etc through the new Building and Design Professionals Act.

     

    #51366
    Jimmy-TJimmy-T
    Keymaster

    I feel I should write it all down and give it to someone… but who?

    I think the obvious candidates would be the Owners Corporation Network (OCN) who did a great job in giving NSW apartment owners something no other state has – the right to create by-laws to keep short-term rentals out of apartment blocks – as well as being at the front of many other beneficial changes to our laws.

    Of course, what you have to do first is join but once you get the ball rolling, you will find that the established strata management firms are, these days, just as concerned about dodgy operators as you are.

    But if you go in with an attitude of “all strata managers are corrupt” your pleas will fall on deaf ears across the board.

    #51364
    AvatarFey Knows
    Flatchatter

    To, in particular Bennifer and Attila the Strata Manager. I once spent a couple of days looking into all this. The one huge strata company with an even bigger parent company. Their arrangements with merchant banks, automatic payment systems, insurance companies  and such…

    Now our problem is a little company set up by people who worked there who know what they can get away with and are twice as bad. Particularly when they have orchestrated a Strata Committee cabal takeover.

    It’s all very immoral and even corrupt.I feel I should write it all down and give it to someone… but who?

     

    #51298
    AvatarBennifer
    Flatchatter

    Wow Jimmy T, I hope the same thing happens in this case! Please keep your ears open for any news of a strata manager in Sydney being convicted for fraud/theft of funds. Flat Chat might be the only source of info for the affected owners.

    #51296
    Jimmy-TJimmy-T
    Keymaster

    Given the level of fraud that she committed and the theft from multiple strata plans, it is absolutely ridiculous that any action taken against her is then kept secret.

    The fact that there are other victims of this alleged criminal makes it very difficult for the authorities to be entirely open about their actions or intended actions, as publicising one case might jeopardise others.

    If it’s any consolation, the last strata manager/r.e. agent I heard of who was prosecuted for embezzlement went to jail (much to her surprise).

    Don’t assume because you haven’t heard or been told anything, that means nothing is happening.

     

    #51269
    AvatarBennifer
    Flatchatter

    My strata plans funds were stolen by our previous strata manager (along with funds from many other strata plans that her company managed).

    After huge amounts of stress and an extended period of time (over 12 months) whilst an investigation/audit was carried out, we eventually received our ‘money back’ (from a government compensation fund) but we received nothing for all the time that we spent or on the cost of lodging the paperwork – we had to wear those additional costs.

    We were told that Fair Trading were keen to prosecute the offender but that it is a private matter and we will not be informed about what (if any) action is taken against her- even though it was our money that she stole!

    Given the level of fraud that she committed and the theft from multiple strata plans, it is absolutely ridiculous that any action taken against her is then kept secret. She should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law and it should be publicly available as a warning to other strata managers to behave responsibly and appropriately with the strata funds that they manage.

    The secrecy around the whole situation is absolutely ridiculous and given the large amounts of money involved in strata – there should be a much higher level of oversight and more stringent requirements for those who work in the industry.

    • This reply was modified 6 days, 2 hours ago by .
    #51283
    Jimmy-TJimmy-T
    Keymaster

    There are provisions under the Act to have individuals removed from the strata committee.  Have a look at Section 238.  Committee members using their influence for their own benefit and not for the benefit of the whole community would be valid grounds, I would think

    #51279
    AvatarBunyip1
    Flatchatter

    Yes, a Royal Commission to stop all shonky and unprofessional practices,

    We got rid of our Strata Managers after a 17 year tenure, they had been the only managers of the building.  The owner of Strata company and insurance broker run their joint business from our building ( they own 5 lots in our plan).  I had questioned the legitimacy of Owner/s  being the managing agent.  Jimmy T said it’s not a healthy setup but it’s not illegal.   The advice was to get rid of the Strata firm which wasn’t an easy task due to their long tenure, the fact they were owners of multiple lots and the form of the firm;s owner to bully and intimidate committee members if people disagreed with him.

    So after 12months of garnering support it was agreed to get rid of them at the AGM. We had anticipated fireworks from the Strata owner but as luck would have it, the strata owner and his business partner did not even turn up to the AGM ( I think they were so certain their contract would be renewed ).  When the motion to renew their contract came up, it was a unanimous ” NO “. We did feel for the strata manager because her boss use to intimidate her at the strata meetings, how was she going to explain this one ? I think there was a quick phone call made and a request from the boss and business partner to be allowed on the committee to which there was another unanimous ” NO ” as there was no proxies received nor were they in attendance. ”

    Another reason we got rid of our strata agent was our suspicions about the strata cleaners cleaning their offices. When requested, the cleaning company could not produce a scope of works for our building but only a scope for the offices of the strata mgr and his business partner.  A call was received by our new strata manager from the director of the cleaning company to say his secretary had made a mistake and he can get the cleaning scope to us in a few days. I mean after cleaning our building for 17 years isn’t it in our file?

    The cleaning firm has contracts to clean many buildings managed by our old Strata company.  I was also informed that a member of the strata company is related to someone in the cleaning company’s management.  To further reinforce our suspicions after terminating the former cleaners, our new strata manager received a bill for items relating to cleaning of the offices of the former Strata manager and business partner which was quickly retracted and put down to another administration error but surely after 17 years of cleaning on totally separate accounts how can an invoice be mistakenly charged to our strata account?

    A year has passed and the former strata agent and business partner were not going to miss this year’s AGM. They are now back on the committee, and as expected, are being as difficult as ever. Decisions and agreements made during their tenure are now being rejected, questioned or not supported anymore. We are now being blamed for delays to bylaws and repairs which were meant to be done by their company not the new managing agent.

    The new managing agent has quickly got these items resolved any delays are caused by the former managing agent not agreeing to anything. The old managing agent has been so spiteful that approved repairs to the building which was going to stop some water entry into units including his own have been delayed due to constant questioning of stages by him but he has the nerve to then asks why there is a delay and he still has a small leak in one of his units.

    Yes please Royal Commission and make new laws over conflicts of interests. Our former situation although ” not illegal ” wouldn’t pass any pub test even if it was a dodgy pub!

     

     

    #51275
    Jimmy-TJimmy-T
    Keymaster

    May I suggest that Jimmy Thompson, (should he be willing) arrange a meeting of Flat Chat members who have an interest in getting change effected, and want to turn the heat up on this issue …

    I wouldn’t get directly involved in this or any other issues (even if you’d spelt my name correctly) as I would have no life of my own.

    However, gatting fellow victims togehter is a good idea and you can invite other FlatChatters to contact you directly via the message service and take it from there (with the occasional update in these pages).

    #51270
    AvatarEnough of Strata
    Flatchatter

    Surprisingly, when I came onto Flat Chat today, the topic of “How can we get a Royal Commission into strata managers” came up, as a recent topic, which started in 2019.

    I have in the recent 6 months had issues with 2 different Strata Mangers (and Committee members) who have not acted appropriately, and in the best interests of the Owners Corporation. The first cost that strata about $60k unnecessarily, and the people involved are still in place and unaffected.

    Regretfully, the other Lot owners did not want to be involved.  The second involved a former owner (and for a short time a Committee member), now a tenant (had to sell), who at 66yrs with only a primary school education, a very low IQ, and with great difficulty reading and writing as he suffers from dyslexia, was being picked on by the committee members (facilitated by the S/Mgr) in relation to his trailer being parked on common property.

    They took him to Fair Trading mediation & when that was unsuccessful, the matter was listed with NCAT for a hearing (this month). That matter was withdrawn after I stepped in and assisted, by seeking information on his behalf from the S/Mgr, which showed there was actually no case, proper procedures were not followed, and the involvement of the S/Mgr & the licensee not consistent with the NSW Act.

    The fellow wants the matter raised with the Minister, (considers the action was taken out of spite, for him exposing the committee’s & S/Mgr’s irregularities in the past) and has approached the local state MP, who’s staff are preparing a letter for the Minister (which I will get a chance to assist with). Maybe there will be a result, but most likely will be thwarted by bureaucrats.

    Having read the other messages on this topic I agree with all responders that nothing will be done, BUT ONLY IF YOU DO NOT TRY TO FIX THE PROBLEMS.  Its amazing if you resolve to do something and persist, you often will get a result.

    May I suggest that Jimmy Thompson, (should he be willing) arrange a meeting of Flat Chat members who have an interest in getting change effected, and want to turn the heat up on this issue, AND for those willing (with their own verifiable accounts of problems) to approach the media (preferably TV) to see if an expose can be run.   Maybe no Royal Commission, but change is possible if the political pressure ramps up through media .

    I certainly would be willing to be involved.  Persistence, it appears, does get results.

     

    • This reply was modified 6 days, 6 hours ago by .
    #51262
    AvatarJust Asking
    Flatchatter

    It is concerning that strata management companies and self managed owners corporations can operate without due regard for their legal obligations, with access to funds held on trust for owners. It seems there is very little remedy for misuse of owner’s funds, whether by bad faith or incompetence?

    Then there is the recurring question of secret commissions? What can be done when a strata committee and/or a strata manager are able to collude so that the owners are systematically bilked?

    I do not know if a Royal Commission is the answer, but with a growing proportion of the community living in strata as our cities adopt higher densities for residential housing, the potential for serious problems is increasing.

     

     

    #48466
    AvatarLKY
    Flatchatter

    You said what I had in my mind : strata management licence is a licence to print money.Neither NSW Fair Trading nor NCAT will  really help when you have problems with SMs though they are mandated to help.

    One large  Strata Management Agency gives a large political donation of about $100,000 ( this in 2017 as I discovered through Dun & Bradstreet Credit Report ) or more per year and more than all real estate bodies put together. So what can we expect from those who supervise them ? I think we are better served by going to a smaller,well run, SMA than a large well known SMA who don’t observe or deliver what they promise on their web site. We did exactly that now.

    #39832
    AvatarHamish
    Flatchatter

    My experience of two compulsory strata managers is horrendous.  Rather than fix the problems they created more. NCAT is a useless arrogant body and requires a drastic overhaul.  My latest experience with NCAT was being told by the adjudicator when he entered the conference room that he was very busy and didn’t have any time to deal with the matter.  What did I want?  I said it is all in the files in front of him.  He said he didn’t have time to read the file.

    I am considering approaching A Current Affair to investigate strata managers, NCAT and in fact the whole system of strata law and its process.  I would be doing several million strata owners and tenants in NSW a favour for creating a big shake up of strata management.  The whole system has bred a large group  of lawyers and others feeding off the misery of others.

    #39626
    Jimmy-TJimmy-T
    Keymaster

    And, I have been told by a former Strata Community Australia member that when they took proof of a (non-SCA) strata manager’s highly dubious and possibly illegal conduct to Fair Trading, the response was that their behaviour was “standard industry practice” and therefore there was no question of them having their licence cancelled.

    #39596
    AvatarLawoftheLand
    Flatchatter

    Yes JT, three (3) day course – says it all really, doesn’t it? Not dissimilar to a real estate licence!

    Fey Knows, you are absolutely right. A squillion dollar unregulated industry indeed.

    And I know a person (friend of a friend) who lasted 12 months as a Strata manager – he said it was soul destroying – skimming 20% off all quotes & contracts, constantly misleading (lying to) owners & bleeding money from the O/C endlessly causing depletion of accounts. Really have to ask, how low can you go? Unscrupulous, immoral spivs.

    Any type of public enquiry into Strata companies would be great, considering all the units being built by their developer mates, they’re just rubbing their dirty hands together with glee and our money!

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Flat Chat Forum NCAT – the NSW Tribunal Current Page