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  • #8414
    Avatarnojay
    Flatchatter

    In Sept 2012, the NSW Government issued a Discussion Paper and invited feedback to proposed reforms of the Strata Schemes Management Act 1996 No 138 (the Act). 

    Prior to launching the Discussion Paper, in 2011/2011 the NSW Dept Fair Trading commissioned Global Access Partners’ (GAP) to prepare the “Strata Laws Online Consultation Report”. That Report confirmed there was much that needed to be addressed in Strata Legislation reform.

    The existing Strata Schemes Management Act makes three bodies collectively responsible to an Owners Corporation (OC) for managing the Strata Scheme:

    • A Strata Managing Agent;
    • A Caretaker; and
    • An Executive Committee.

    The GAP Report identified widespread discontent with dysfunctional Executive Committees and/or Strata Managers. However, the role of the Caretaker – and the lack of regulation concerning the minimum qualifications and experience of Caretakers – was not identified as being a reform issue in the GAP Report. 

    If there is a dysfunctional Executive Committee and/or Strata Manager, having a properly trained, qualified and experienced Caretaker (Building Manager) is even more important yet the latest Discussion Paper released in Sept 2012 likewise does not flag the role of the Caretaker (Building Manager) as being a key area of reform.

    My Strata Scheme is made up of approximately 150 owners. The Owners Corp collects annual levies totalling approx $600,000 for the management of a building asset valued for insurance purposes at $72M.  

    Our Executive Committee has found our Strata Manager has often let us down but most of our frustration has been in dealing with unqualified Caretakers (Building Managers) with limited skills.

    We have found that, on a day-to-day basis, the Caretaker/Building Manager has more influence on the effective management of our Strata Scheme than the Strata Manager, yet the current Act allows Caretakers to operate without any qualifications or formal registration.

    When we were tendering for the appointment of a new Building Manager, the EC did extensive research of its own to produce a checklist of duties and responsibilities for a Building Manager after it found the current Strata Act provided little that could be relied on. 

    Our Strata Manager was unwilling to offer advice on the preferred terms of engagement for a Building Manager and left it to the EC to consult with a lawyer on the minimum qualifications, experience and skill requirements and a possible schedule of duties. 

    Most Executive Committees are made up of untrained lay-persons who rely on their appointed Strata Managing Agents to act as their professional advisors, not merely as administrators and record keepers.

    I believe any reform of the Act should:

    1. Establish minimum duties and responsibilities for both Strata Managing Agents AND Caretakers that cannot be ‘contracted out’ by biased or inadequate management agreements. (The original property developers who have no real concern for the ongoing management of a property often write these agreements. Caretaker Agreements are often compiled by inexperienced OC’s).
    2. Include the ESSENTIAL RESPONSIBILITY of both Strata Managing Agent AND Caretaker to provide timely and professional advice in their respective areas of expertise to the Owners Corp and its EC;
    3. Include also as an ESSENTIAL RESPONSIBILITY of the Strata Managing Agent to advise the Owners Corp on the minimum duties and responsibilities of the Caretaker when the appointment of a Caretaker is being considered. (The appointment of a Caretaker is a critical one and is often one of the first things a newly formed OC has to consider); and
    4. Establish minimum education requirements, qualifications and experience of a Caretaker, particularly when the Owners Corporation is a large one (in excess of 100 owners).

    Since the trend these days is toward larger strata schemes in excess of 100 owners the role of the Caretaker cannot be taken too lightly.   

    I am preparing a response to the Discussion Paper on the proposed reforms to Strata Legislation.

    I urge everyone reading this forum to do the same and also invite your comment here.

Viewing 6 replies - 1 through 6 (of 6 total)
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  • #20164
    scotlandxscotlandx
    Strataguru

    gloriajean, if as you say this “building manager” has been operating for years without a contract and he is actually doing nothing or very little, then you can get rid of him.  If he doesn’t have a contract, on what basis is he doing whatever it is he is doing, and on what basis is he being paid?

    #20159

    gloriajean it seems fairly common for building managers to be hanging around without contracts and specified tasks.  Any company that is a professional will have a contract available with tasks listed.  Easiest thing to do is call and ask for a proposal.  They should list the tasks and how regularly they’ll be done.  Cost is difficult as it will depend on the tasks and the size of the building.  As an example we have a building manager in one large block that we pay $80,000 which includes all basic maintenance, cleaning, liaison with contractors, tenant/ owner contact and obtaining quotes for large jobs.  We save money doing this rather than the strata manager hitting us with schedule B fees.

    #20135
    Avatargloriajean
    Flatchatter

    Nojay I know it’s ages since you posted these comments but I wonder if you have any updated comments about the role of building manager/caretakers (in NSW)? We have a building manager who has been operating for years without a contract and doesn’t appear to do very much to justify the OC’s expenditure. Did you ever come across any standard form contract or usual list of duties?

    Does anyone have any ideas re appropriate remuneration where the building manager is not on site and has no responsibility for cleaning?

     

    #16740
    Avatarnojay
    Flatchatter
    Chat-starter

    I agree with the comments of both Alley Cat and Cosmo. 

    Has anyone else had to go though the process we had to when appointing a new Building Manager i.e. at great expense appoint lawyers to draft both a formal tender document and ultimately a contract but with ‘Duties and Responsibilities’ that they left largely to the Exec Committee to work out themselves. Why isn’t there a reference document readily available SOMEWHERE that has a standard checklist of duties / responsibilities for both a Strata Manager and a Building Manager (complementary roles).

    It seems crazy that each OC has to re-invent the wheel on this. I’d have thought by now the Dept Fair Trading could have drafted standard contracts for the appointment of both the Strata Manager and the Building Manager which referenced standard checklists for duties etc.   

    Am I being too cynical in thinking the legal profession sees this as being too good a thing to give away and likes to keep it for themselves? 

    #16676
    AvatarCosmo
    Flatchatter

    nojay,

     

    I agree with the general thrust of your post, as you point out “Since the trend these days is toward larger strata schemes in excess of 100 owners the role of the Caretaker cannot be taken too lightly.   “

     

    However, any solution needs to recognise that especially for smaller OCs it would not be wise to legislatle, mandate or force OCs to have a hired, qualified Caretaker. Even for larger OCs an “opt out” provision would, in my view, be appropriate!

     

    Many OCs do and are capable of looking after their own maintenance and this needs to be recognised. 

    #16675
    Avataralley cat
    Flatchatter

    Couldn’t agree more.

    We are happy with the new strata manager that we appointed after years of incompetence. It has made a huge difference. But we are still trying to get the building manager / caretaker situation sorted out. I agree that the basis is that there is no legal checks and balances in place. One of the best decisions we made was to not allow the building manager to write work orders. This means that all work orders go through to the strata manager. Seems to be working so far. As a result regular service of equipment is now costing $100’s instead of $1000’s, we have a regular maintenance schedule, and less distractions from residents wanting maintenance done that is actually their own responsibility (lost keys, dripping taps, blown lights…..)

     

    Alley cat

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