This is the question posed by the President of Strata Community Australia (ACT), Chris Miller. Chris has a long history in property and strata management in Canberra culminating in recently becoming the Managing Director of his own strata management business, Vantage Strata.
“I believe Canberra will become the ‘Strata Title’ Capital of Australia. We have an aging population, high property prices, largely professional or white collar workforce and young people that, on the whole, would rather be living life than mowing lawns and clearing leaves out of gutters and nature strips,” Chris mused.
“Add to this the fact that Canberrans don’t really like to commute – 20 minutes is the other side of the earth – waiting in traffic is becoming more common, paid parking is thought to be outrageous and the weather … too hot, too cold, too windy …”
According to Chris ‘a-perfect-storm’ has been forming leading to an explosion of strata communities in the ACT.
“Strata communities are for everyone. They are becoming an ever popular choice for the young and old. For single people, couples and families,” Chris stated.
So what is ‘strata title’? What is Strata Community Australia (ACT)? And what is a Strata Manager?
“Strata title is actually an Australian innovation in property law that has been copied around the globe,” Chris said.
It allows individual ownership of part of a property (called a lot’ and generally an apartment or townhouse), combined with shared ownership in the remainder (called ‘Common Property’ e.g. foyers, driveways, gardens) through a legal entity called the owners corporation — or body corporate, strata company or community association, depending on your state or territory of residence and the type of scheme.
The concept only came into being 50 years ago and there are now more than 270,000 such schemes encompassing more than two million individual lots across Australia.
Developments that can exist under strata plans can be:
• mixed use – i.e. retail and/or commercial and/or residential
• serviced apartments
• retirement villages
• caravan parks
What is a ‘strata manager’?
Strata managers are engaged by the strata scheme’s owners committee to manage the day-to-day affairs of the scheme. Strata managers provide services and advice on:
• Financial management
• Clerical and administrative support and follow up
• Ad hoc maintenance and contract support
• Ensure requirements of the relevant legislation are met
• Advise on the legal requirements concerning the operation of the strata scheme.
“The role of a strata manager varies depending on the size and type of property and involves people management, someone who is organised and has the capacity to handle difficult clients,” Chris laughed.
According to Strata Community Australia, the first thing to establish, when choosing a strata manager, is whether the they have a good working knowledge of the relevant legislation.
“A lot of strata schemes choose their strata manager based on price but this is not necessarily the best way of choosing. If the building is going to be complex then it may be best to decide on experience instead.” Chris explained.
SCA is currently introducing an accreditation program where members in each state will be able to gain a certain level of accreditation according to the training and experience they have in the sector. This will make it easier for strata schemes to determine if their strata manager has the appropriate qualifications and experience to manage their property.
“By choosing an SCA accredited strata manager strata schemes are also choosing someone who adheres to a code of ethics and undertakes regular training,” Chris said confidently.
Chris also said the legislation governing owners corporations and the compliance requirements are quite complex. Selfmanaged owners corporations are expected to perform the role of a property manager,with the expertise of a lawyer, valuer, insurance broker and accountant on tap.
In addition, owners corporations are well advised to make short and long term plans for ongoing, periodic, routine and urgent maintenance management.
“For owners who may have other jobs, getting to grips with all this can be daunting,” Chris said. “Strata managers are experts in the administration of all aspects of owners corporations. We work to ensure owners corporations are compliant with their legal responsibilities and strive to protect owner assets.”
Strata Community Australia (ACT)
Strata Community Australia (ACT) is affiliated with Strata Communities Australia and represents 85% of strata management practitioners in the Australian Capital Territory.
SCA (ACT) works with unit owners and practitioners in the strata industry in the Australian Capital Territory to provide professional development for members, ensure professional standards are maintained, provide protection to consumers, and assist the resolution of disputes between members and their clients.
“We have also created a standard agency agreement so that services and fees are clearly defined. Members are principally strata management firms and their employees. Owners corporations, and suppliers of products and services to the strata industry, are also welcome as members,” said Chris.
Strata Community Australia Limited (SCA) is the peak industry body for Body Corporate and Community Title Managementin Australia.
Membership includes body corporate managers, support staff, committee members and suppliers of products and services to the industry.
SCA proudly fulfils the dual roles of a professional institute and consumer advocate. SCA has in excess of 3,300 members who help oversee, advise or manage a combined property portfolio with an estimated replacement value of over $1.2 trillion.
Strata Community Australia (ACT)
Strata Community Australia Limited (SCA) is the peak industry body for Body Corporate and Community Title Management in Australia. Membership includes body corporate managers, support staff, committee members and suppliers of products and services to the industry. SCA proudly fulfils the dual roles of a professional institute and consumer advocate. SCA has in excess of 3,300 members who help oversee, advise or manage a combined property portfolio with an estimated replacement value of over $1.2 trillion.