Strata Managers: What Can You Expect?
A strata management company is responsible for looking after your strata title development. They are hired by the owners corporation, all owners in a strata title are members. The owners corporation makes the decision of appointing or changing a strata management company.
When looking for a good strata manager, here are a few specifics to look for.
Managing a strata scheme is complex and requires a lot of experience. A good strata management company is one with the abilities of an accountant, mediator, police officer, and tradesperson, all in one.
The ideal strata manager should:
- Have experience for managing similar size (and functionality/facilities) developments
- Be familiar with dealing with mixed use of commercial and residential (where applicable)
- Possess a network of experts that they can utilise for specific advice and support
Quality strata management companies should be able to prove that they:
- Are insured for professional indemnity
- Have a valid licence through the appropriate authority. In ACT, this will be the Office of Regulatory Services
- Participate in continual professional development efforts to maintain current knowledge with industry practice and legislation
It is essential to understand the exact charges associated with your strata management company, along with the services covered in that charge. Cheaper does not necessarily mean better, however, you shouldn’t pay for additional services that aren’t utilised.
Your needs will vary depending on the size and nature of your strata development, and whether there is a facilities manager on site.
A strata manager typically does all (or some) of the following:
- Deals with correspondences between owners, tenants, and external parties
- Arranges maintenance of the common areas
- Calculate budgets for approval
- Arranges the annual general meeting and extraordinary general meetings as required
- Calculates levies, serves levy notices, and follows up with debt recovery
- Maintains a current insurance policy and handles all claims
- Performs record keeping
- Communicated and enforces house rules
- Mediates disputes
It is always favourable to choose a strata management company that has an office local to your development. This helps ensure that your strata manager:
Can efficiently respond to situations where they are needed on site
Has pre-existing relationships with reliable local cleaners and tradespeople
Has a good understanding of local issues, such as when temporary parking restrictions are applied
What questions should I ask when engaging a strata manager?
It is always a good idea to meet with potential strata managers and ask them questions to help you find the right one for the job.
Here are some questions to ask, along with good responses to expect.
Who will be the strata manager?
When choosing a strata management company, it is important to meet the particular strata manager that will be assigned to you.
Meeting them will help you determine what they are like, the level of experience in strata they possess, and whether they will be the primary contact or if an assistant will fill in the gap.
Specific answers are what you should be looking for. Good strata managers are happy to provide references from other developments for you to receive recommendations by word of mouth.
What type of strata development experience do you have?
Although every development is different, you will want a strata manager who has experience in developments similar to yours. Aspects may include:
- Size and number of units
- Whether it is solely residential or mixed use with commercial and residential
- Facilities available, such as a gym or a pool
- Whether the development is upscale
A good answer will include names of specific developments they have worked on. If they are unable to provide any references for similar developments, consider it a red flag.
Do you have the capability and support to handle our strata development?
A good strata management company will have their own network of resources to rely on when specialist advice or backup is needed.
Good questions you ask include:
- How big is your company?
- Are there any internal specialist divisions, such as legal, debt collection, taxation?
- Do you have relationships with reliable tradespeople?
What do your fees cover?
The idea is to get the best value for your money. You won’t want to miss out on the crucial services, or pay for ones that you won’t need.
Be sure to ask the strata company:
- What services do they offer at each price level?
- Do they offer different service packages for you to choose one that fits your needs?
- How long is the contract for?
The fee structure should also set out the specific services provided. Where extra charges are incurred, make sure it is obvious. Request the same clarity for situations where the work will be outsourced.
The above is an indication of what to expect from a strata management company, and how to find a good one for your development.