Frequently Asked Questions
How often are meetings of the Owners Corporation held?
Every Owners Corporation (Body Corporate) is required to convene a general meeting at least once every 12 months, which is known as the ‘Annual General Meeting’ (AGM). The Strata Schemes Management Act 1996 (the Act), requires the AGM to be held, ‘on a date not earlier than one month before and not later than one month after the anniversary of the first annual general meeting’. As such the AGM is usually held around the same time every year.
Aside from the statutory motions detailed above, additional motions may be placed on the agenda by any financial owner (IE whose strata levies are fully paid) for consideration at the AGM by the Owners Corporation. Any additional motions for inclusion on the agenda of the AGM must be provided in writing prior to the meeting being convened.
How often are Strata Committee Meetings held?
The Act does not obligate the Strata Committee to convene meetings at any particular time during the year, as such committee meetings are usually held as the need arises. The only time a committee meeting must be convened is where at least 1/3 of committee members request a meeting to discuss or determine a particular item. In many instances the responsibilities of the Strata Committee are delegated by the Owners Corporation to your Strata Manager so there may be no need to convene a committee meeting at all during the year as many of the functions of the Strata Committee are exercised by the agent.
What services do the cleaners & gardeners provide?
The cleaners and gardeners engaged by your Owners Corporation to service your strata scheme must follow a strict specification of duties when servicing your strata property.
This specification has been compiled to ensure your property is maintained to the highest possible standard, a copy of which is available at the newsletter page at www.netstrata.com.au. This specification may be adjusted to suit the specific needs of your property.
The frequency of the services is determined by you and the other owners within your scheme. This will largely depend on the size, design & style of your property and the annual budget allowance for the same, however a weekly or fortnightly schedule is usually sufficient.
In the event the Owners Corporation are not satisfied by the performance being provided by the cleaning and gardening contractors, their services can usually be terminated at any time and alternative contractors engaged.
I’d like to undertake an alteration or addition to my property, do I need permission?
In most instances the answer will be yes, you will need permission from the Owners Corporation or Strata Committee prior to undertaking an alteration or addition to your lot, such as installing an air-conditioner, skylight, blind, pergola or awning etc.
Most strata schemes are registered with a standard By-Law titled ‘Damage to Common Property’ (see copy below) which is usually By-Law number 5. This By-Law prevents an owner from damaging or defacing any structure that forms part of common property, unless prior written approval from the Owners Corporation is obtained.
The type of permission required will largely depend on the size and type of alteration to be made. If the alteration is relatively simple, permission may simply be granted by your Strata Manager or Strata Committee. If more complicated however, it may require a special By-law being passed by the Owners Corporation at a general meeting.
Can Pay TV be connected to our Strata Scheme?
In most instances, yes you will be able to connect Pay TV to your property. However Foxtel are currently the only mainstream Pay TV service suppliers that provide their service to Strata Schemes. Optus Vision has not provided their service to multi-dwelling complexes for a number of years and it does not appear that they will be providing their service in the near future.
In order to have Foxtel connected, permission from the Owners Corporation will need to be obtained prior to undertaking the connection.
The type of connection to your property will vary depending on whether you reside in a townhouse/villa complex or unit complex and whether you are within a cable or satellite area. A cable connection can usually be facilitated quite easily and with little to no expense, as such the following critiques pertain to satellite subscriptions.
Connection to Townhouses & Villas
Because townhouses and villas are constructed separately the Foxtel contractors are usually able to facilitate either an individual connection to each townhouse/villa or a group installation for the complex, depending on the type of connection preferred by the owners.
An individual connection is normally preferred because the cost of installation is only borne by those owners wishing to subscribe to the service. The only down side to this is that should every owner subscribe to the service one satellite dish will be fitted to the roof of each property, however the visual impact of the satellite dishes can be reduced if they are fitted in areas that will reduce the same.
A group connection can be arranged, whereby one dish or a number of dishes are fitted in various locations throughout the scheme whereby each owner simply connects to the common dish located nearest their property. Here the Owners Corporation will fund the installation of the dishes, however this must be approved by the Owners Corporation at a general meeting via a Special Resolution and due to the costs involved a Special Levy is usually required to fund the installation.
Connection to Units
Foxtel currently does not provide individual connections to owners who reside in unit complexes, as such the only connection available is via a group connection to the building.
If your building contains 12 units or less and is less than 3 storeys, Foxtel will usually cable your building and provide a satellite dish to the building at no cost, however approval for this type of connection still needs to be ratified by the Owners Corporation via a general meeting.
Unfortunately if your strata scheme contains more than 12 units or is more than 3 storeys high, Foxtel will charge your Owners Corporation to provide the infrastructure and satellite dish to facilitate their service. This can only be approved via the Owners Corporation via a general meeting, where a Special Resolution is required. This means that at least 75% of owners that are voting at the meeting, either in person or via proxy, must be in favour of the motion.
Again usually due to the costs involved a Special Levy will need to be raised to fund the works. The cost of the connection will vary widely depending on the complexity of the connection to your building.
Typically however the costs are around $200.00 to $500.00 per unit.
Who is Responsible for Maintenance?
The answer to this question is far too detailed for the purposes of this newsletter, as such a separate newsletter to deal with the many complexities of Strata Maintenance is available on the newsletter page at www.netstrata.com.au.
Am I permitted to keep an animal?
This will entirely depend on the By-Laws that have been registered for your strata scheme and/or obtaining permission from the Owners Corporation or Strata Committee of the strata scheme.
Generally an Owners Corporation of a residential scheme will have a specific By-Law relating to the keeping of animals at the property, with one of the following options:
A. An owner may only keep an animal once permission is obtained from the Owners Corporation
B. An owner may keep certain animals such as cats, dogs, birds or fish under certain terms and conditions. Permission to keep other types of animals must be obtained from the Owners Corporation prior to keeping the animal
C. No animals may be kept at the Strata Scheme
As such to ascertain whether you are permitted to keep an animal, an inspection of the By-Laws registered for your strata scheme should be undertaken and if necessary the appropriate permission obtained from the Owners Corporation.
It should be noted that no Owners Corporation can prohibit the keeping of a guide dog used by a visually impaired person (section 49(4) Strata Schemes Management Act 1996).
How often are Financial Reports Produced?
Schedule 2, Clause 34(a) of the Strata Schemes Management Act 1996 requires the notice of every Annual General Meeting of the Owners Corporation to be accompanied by a copy of the last financial statements prepared by the Owners Corporation. The notice of the Annual General Meeting must be supplied to all owners within the scheme.
As far as reports produced by Netstrata, the Property, Stock and Business Agents Act 2002 obligates our office to furnish the Owners Corporation with financial reports every 6 months. Members of your Strata Committee are able to obtain immediate access to the financial records of your strata scheme via the WEBlink services at www.netstrata.com.au.
The financial records produced by our office for your scheme include;
- A Balance Sheet
- An Income & Expenditure Statement for the Admin & Sinking Fund
- A detailed listing of each item of expenditure for your scheme
- A levy positions statement for each owner within the scheme
What do my levy contributions pay for?
Your levies contribute to the operating and long term expenses of your strata or community scheme property. They are divided into two separate funds; administration fund for current operating costs and sinking fund for long term, large scale maintenance costs.
The administration fund is intended to provide adequate funds for the running costs of your property, such as;
- Insurances (buildings, liability, etc.)
- Audit & insurance valuation costs
- General maintenance of shared property
- Shared water consumption costs
- Cleaning of shared property
- Shared electricity costs
- Mowing & gardening of shared property
- Management & administration costs
- Annual fire certification costs
- Taxation & statutory costs
There are other types of administration expenses, many of which will depend on the facilities at your property such as caretaking services, automatic garage doors, elevators, air-conditioning plants, swimming pools, gymnasiums, shared hot water systems etc.
What is the Sinking Fund?
The sinking fund is intended for the long-term maintenance of the buildings and improvements at your property, such as replacement of carpet, repainting of common areas, replacement of building components or building refurbishment etc. This fund is required to accumulate over time so that the scheme has sufficient reserves to accommodate these long-term maintenance items when they occur.
How and when are levies determined?
Your levy contributions are reviewed yearly by the owners at the annual general meeting, the amount of levies you pay is determined by you and the other owners of your scheme. This determination is usually based on the budget estimates submitted with the meeting notice. It is important that you carefully review and understand these estimates before each meeting so you are fully aware what your levies are being applied to at your property.
In the event of an Emergency Repair who do we call?
Your Strata Manager should always be the first point of contact if an emergency repair is required to the common areas of your strata or community association property, so appropriate tradespeople may be engaged to complete necessary maintenance works.
In the event the repairs are required after hours, a list of emergency trade services is usually listed on the common notice board at your strata scheme.
All owners that reside in a strata scheme or community association managed by Netstrata should also have received a list of the emergency tradespersons suitable for your property. If you have not received this information or have misplaced this information simply contact our office at firstname.lastname@example.org and we shall forward this information to you or check your WEBlink page at www.netstrata.com.au for details.
What happens if rubbish is dumped on common property?
It’s an unfortunate occurrence but on occasions, people dispose of rubbish on common property. This can be unsightly and a relatively annoying situation – therefore quick action is imperative.
Dumping of rubbish on common property is prohibited under Schedule 2 of the Strata Schemes Management Regulation 2010.
If for whatever reason you need to place rubbish temporarily on common property, approach your Owner’s Corporation – who will discuss the matter at a meeting and decide whether to allow the request or not.
However, if you see rubbish on common property that’s been dumped without prior consent, you should alert your building manager immediately. The building manager should arrange a local council pick up or organise rubbish contractors to collect the material. As a last option, the building manager could place the rubbish in the common bins. The sight of rubbish is one thing but the potential to cause harm is another – therefore speedy removal out of harm’s way is essential.
If your property doesn’t have a building manager, notify the cleaner to take the necessary steps instead.
Additionally, you should also inform the owner’s corporation so that they can document the incident – it may be difficult to identify the offender but at least if a similar situation arises in the future, there’ll be a record of the indiscretion. We would also recommend issuing a notice to all strata scheme members, alerting them to the fact that placing rubbish on common property is against the by-laws. See also our article on Rubbish on Common Property.