Frequently Asked Questions
No doubt this is a distressing time for everyone.
Be assured we understand the importance of our role in guiding your Owners Corporation through these troubled times and the impact that this is having on your lives, your loved ones and of course the impact to your Scheme.
To assist, we have collected and categorised the most frequently asked questions that we have received over the last few weeks.
Things are moving at a rapid pace, however we’ve done our best to provide you with the most up-to-date and relevant information for your Scheme, as well as outlining how we will manage your Scheme in the weeks and months ahead. These topics include;
- COVID-19 | General Questions
- Cleaning & Maintenance
- Financial Management
- Ongoing Administration
To keep you informed of the numerous unfolding events that are affecting your Scheme, we’ll be increasing our electronic communications in the coming weeks and months, so please keep an eye out via email, social media channels and our website.
Our staff have also commenced working from home and are still contactable via their usual direct telephone numbers, email or mobiles.
We have also created a number of useful posters and guides for distribution amongst the residents of your Scheme. We have distributed these to your cleaners, however please feel free to print these off and display in the appropriate areas. Topics include;
- Social Distancing Guides & Hygiene Guides
- Building Load Guides
- Courtesy Guides
We trust this information proves helpful and sincerely hope that you and your families stay safe.
COVID19 | GENERAL QUESTIONS
Due to the unforeseen nature of COVID-19, Government agencies and industry associations such as Strata Community Australia have been inundated with questions. Many of which they simply do not have answers for and at best can only provide guidance.
In this vein, we have prepared the following FAQ’s as a guide, recognising that this is a rapidly changing environment, and the answers to the questions posed will be updated should circumstances warrant.
Are Residents Required To Inform The Owners Corporation That They Have Contracted COVID-19?
At this stage there is no formal requirement for residents to report to the Owners Corporation that they have contacted the virus, however we’d encourage them to do so, so the Owners Corporation may discuss appropriate next steps.
What Happens If A Resident In Our Building Is Diagnosed With COVID-19?
If our office is informed of a confirmed case of a resident contracting COVID-19, we’ll immediately contact your Strata Committee to discuss next steps, this will include;
- Increasing the frequency of cleaning, sanitisation and disinfecting common areas.
Note: We have already instructed your cleaners to increase the sanitising and disinfecting of the common areas during there routine servicing of your Scheme. However, your Committee may elect to increase the frequency of the services should their be a confirmed case of COVID-19 at your property.
- Posting notices in common areas alerting other residents
It is also likely that NSW Health will post notices in common areas advising residents.
Due to Privacy Legislation, we may not be able to disclose which resident has have contracted the virus, unless they provide their consent to do so.
Who Do I Contact If I Believe I Have Coronavirus?
The Australian Government have setup a Coronavirus Health Information Hotline, the contact number is 1800 020 080. Should you require translating or interpreting services please phone 131 450.
If you have a confirmed case of COVID-19, it would be beneficial for you to contact our office we so we may discuss the appropriate next steps with your Strata Committee.
CLEANING AND MAINTENANCE
Our office has instructed all cleaners to increase the disinfecting and sanitisation of the common areas of your scheme with particular emphasis on the high touch points such as door handles, handrails, light switches, lift cars and lift buttons.
We urge all residents to continue practising appropriate hygiene practices such as washing their hands regularly and sneezing and coughing into their elbows or tissues.
If you see the accumulation of excess garbage or witness residents disposing of rubbish inappropriately, we urge you to contact our office so rubbish can be cleared and the area can be cleaned and sanitised.
Will Cleaning Services Be Increased?
This is something that your Strata Manager will discuss with your Strata Committee. Consideration will need to be to the number of services as well as the allocation of appropriate funding for the services to be increased.
Will Fire And Window Lock Inspections Be Carried Out?
Due to the risk of transfer of the virus during a routine inspection, it is likely that the Government will place a temporary suspension on the requirement for the Owners Corporation to include smoke detectors and fire doors of individual apartments in the Annual Fire Safety Statement.
Once this is confirmed by Government we will notify all residents.
How Will General Maintenance Be Performed In My Apartment?
We have implemented strict reporting requirements for all our contractors and suppliers that they must inform our office in the event any of their staff have contracted COVID-19. Should this occur, we will not engage these companies until all staff have been cleared of having contracted the virus.
Where access is required to an individual apartment, all contractors will be asked to wear the necessary safety equipment and take the usual hygiene practices before entering your apartment. They will also abide by the strict social distancing practices that have been introduced by the Government when they are in your apartment.
Conversely, should you or any resident within your Scheme have been confirmed of having contracted COVID-19, you should inform our office so we may inform the contractors that are attending site.
The financial management of your scheme, particularly surrounding cash flow, will be one of the most challenging administrative tasks over the coming few months.
Due to most residents staying at home, the load on buildings are likely to increase, i.e.
- Plumbing Loads (increased use of toilet paper and disposal of sanitary products)
- Utility Loads (increased water and common area electricity usage)
- Servicing Loads (increased cleaning and garbage disposal)
However, due to the unforeseen nature of COVID-19, it is unlikely that your Owners Corporation will have budgeted appropriately for these increases.
This will be compounded by the likelihood of many owners within your scheme falling into arrears due to the extraordinary economic circumstances that are likely to unfold over the next few months.
In the event the cash flow of your scheme comes under increased pressure, our office will contact all suppliers, particularly the utility suppliers and apply for a hardship extension for payment of bills and the cessation of interest accruing on the bills.
To assist with cash flow, we will also liaise with your strata insurers and seek monthly payment instalments, rather than a one-off annual premium. We shall also seek premium funding options for consideration of your Strata Committee.
Should the need arise; we will also be discussing various budgeting options with your Strata Committee, including the re-allocation of funds.
What If I Fall Into Arrears? Will Interest Charges Be Waived?
Strata Legislation allows an Owners Corporation to waive interest on levies, however this can only be decided by the Owners Corporation at a general meeting*.
If I Fall Into Arrears, Can I Enter Into A Payment Plan?
Yes, Owners may enter into a payment plan for their Strata Levies, however this must be approved by the Owners Corporation at a general meeting*.
*We will be liaising with your Strata Committee about convening the necessary meetings to discuss how your Owners Corporation intends on handling Owners that may fall into arrears with their Strata Levies.
Our office appreciates that many owners may fall on hard financial times, however it is also important that the Owners Corporation maintains a steady and predictable cash flow to pay for current expenditure as well as increased expenditure costs due to increases in services such as cleaning and rubbish disposal.
In the meantime, if you have fallen into hard financial times, government assistance is available via the following website;
Working From Home
All our Strata Management staff and the majority of our administrative support staff are now working from home and can be contacted via their usual email, direct line and mobile phone numbers during the COVID-19 shutdown periods.
We are maintaining a skeleton staff on-site for distribution of mail (both incoming and outgoing) however our office is currently closed to the public to assist in containing the spread of COVID-19.
Strata Committee & General Meetings
All Meetings that will be convened by our office for your Owners Corporation will be conducted remotely. Owners will be able to attend or vote at meetings using a variety of methods including;
- Video Conferencing
- Online Voting
- Pre-Meeting Voting
- Traditional Proxy Voting
Most Strata Schemes managed by Netstrata have already passed the necessary motions and By-laws to enable meetings to be held in a remote setting. For those Schemes that have not passed the necessary motions, we will be issuing meeting notices that will enable your Owners Corporation to vote on these requirements via Proxy/Postal Vote.
- Australian Department of Health
- Covid-19 Testing Clinics
- NSW Health
- SafeWork NSW
- Smart Traveller
- World Health Organisation