Frequently Asked Questions
What is Common property?
The major difference between owning a house and owning a unit or apartment (known as a ‘lot’) in a strata scheme, is that the external walls, the floor and roof do not usually belong to the lot owner. These areas are usually common property and generally the responsibility of the owners corporation.
Can I do my own repairs to common property?
Only if you have the permission of the owners corporation. If common property needs repair or maintenance, the owners corporation should undertake that work, not an individual owner.
I want to park in a section of the driveway that’s common property. Can I get permission to do this?
Send a written request to the secretary or strata managing agent. Permission should then be voted on at a general or executive committee meeting.
Do I have to insure the contents of my strata unit?
While there is no obligation to do so, it is highly recommended that you take out adequate insurance on the contents of your unit. The insurance that the owners corporation organises covers the structure of the building and any fixtures inside lots (for example, sinks, baths, shower trays).
However other contents such as your furniture, electrical appliances, curtains and carpets would not be covered. Owners can suffer major loss if their personal property is not insured in the event of a fire or through water damage. In addition, contents insurance usually covers your paint finishes on walls and ceilings.
What is the Owners corporation and by-laws?
The owners corporation is made up of all the owners in the strata scheme. By-laws are made or changed to meet the needs of all owners and to assist with the running of the strata scheme.
I want to get a pet. Do I need the owners corporation’s permission?
Check your by-laws first. Some schemes allow pets with the permission of the owners corporation – the executive committee can give this approval. Other schemes do not allow pets at all. If your by-law allows for pets then make a written request to the owners corporation and include any information to support your request, for example, information on the type of pet, how you will look after it and so on.
What are Meetings of the owners corporation?
The Strata Schemes Management Act 1996 sets out how meetings are called, who can attend and vote, how they are to be run and how decisions are made.
I am an owner – what meetings do I have to go to?
While it is not compulsory for any lot owner to attend owners corporation meetings, a strata scheme operates better if those concerned take an interest in its affairs. There would usually be several meetings of the owners corporation a year, however the annual meeting, when levies are set for the coming year and the executive committee is elected, is the only meeting required to be held by law. It is helpful if people are willing to make themselves available for election to the executive committee.
How do I get to have a say in the meetings?
In order to speak and vote at meetings you need to be an owner. Your name needs to be on the Strata Roll and you also need to be up to date with payment of levies.
How many meetings should we have a year?
Each year the owners corporation must have one annual general meeting and also one executive committee meeting to appoint office bearers. Other meetings can be held as the need arises.
Do we need a quorum to hold a meeting?
Yes. A quorum for a general meeting is 25% of people entitled to vote or owners who hold 25% or more of unit entitlement. A quorum for an executive committee meeting is at least 50% of the executive committee members.
What is an Executive committee?
The owners corporation must elect an executive committee which can make many of the day-to-day decisions about running the scheme on its behalf.
Where does the money for repairs and maintenance of common property come from?
Levies must be raised to do repairs. A motion is put to a general meeting to raise levies to cover the cost of the work. The amount that needs to be paid by each owner is based on their unit entitlement.
The owners corporation keeps putting up the levies. What can I do?
Levies are decided at general meetings and must be discussed and accepted by a vote of the owners. You can vote against the increase or put up a motion for a different levy amount if you wish. A managing agent may put a motion for an increase in levies on the meeting agenda but cannot impose levies.
Levies are normally only increased if there is a need to do new works or there are additional expenses. Ask why the increase is being made if you are not sure.
If you are concerned about rising costs you could try to negotiate paying in instalments. If you think the levies are really too high, you can lodge an application for mediation with Fair Trading to try to resolve the matter.
How much influence do we have over the managing agent?
The managing agent is the employee of the owners corporation. They can offer advice and direction, but final authority lies with the owners corporation.
If you feel that you are not being provided with quality and professional service from your current strata managing agent or would like advice relating to a strata management matter give Casey at Upper Hunter Strata a call today.