Your levies are set in accordance with the annual budget resolved at your AGM by your Owners Corporations. The budget which is set in your building will be different to that set in others, as they are agreed upon by a different Owners Corporation.
Why are my levies higher than my friend’s who owns an apartment down the road and has more facilities?
Your options include online payments via your My community login by visiting the DEFT website (www.deft.com.au). The DEFT website offer easy-to-understand instructions for first time users so to make the task as easy as possible for you.
Like any organisation, your Owners Corporation requires an income to pay for anticipated expenses: such as insurance, caretaker, garbage collection, lift maintenance etc. There also needs to be some reserve to cover unexpected expense such as burst pipes or property damage due to weather. Your fees are set at the level they are to ensure that all these expenses can be paid. To reduce the cost of fees and levies, owners are encouraged to become involved with their Owners Corporation. Owner involvement, occupant awareness and action and paying levies on time helps bring down Owners Corporation costs. Owners must bear in mind that each building is different and owners at one building may decide to put a large amount of the money aside to ensure they’re building is serviced well, whereas the emphasis on the property maintenance may not be as strong at another property. For example, a gardener may attend one building on a weekly basis but another monthly. Unfortunately many Owners Corporations see no immediate value in preparing a healthy budget- most prefer to keep their fees to a minimum and as a result, approve a lean budget. This method presumes the following:
The annual disbursement fee covers accounting and insurance services, document management and for the managers to arrange and attend your Annual AGM on behalf of your Owners Corporation.
Depending on the level of service Strata Plan is contracted to provide your Owners Corporation, additional service fees may be charged to your Owners Corporation over the course of the year. Strata Plan’s standard agreement covers a wide-range of services, such as attending your Owners Corporation’s Annual General Meeting, preparing budget proposals, issuing and collecting levies on behalf of our Owners Corporation and more. Additional service are only charged on a “pay as you use” basis. The ensures that Strata Plan can keep its base management fees low and that your Owners Corporation is only charged for the services it uses.
The proposed budget mostly deals with estimates and projections that are proposed based on what is known, as well as projected future uncertainties. The budget contingency purposely incorporates certain risk factors into the proposed budget to help your Owners Corporation’s prepare for potential expenses that may arise in the financial year. This might include, for example, an unexpected breakdown of the lift. Whether or not these contingencies are included in the final budget by your Owners Corporation. To access your Owners Corporation’s budget, log into Strata Plan’s online customer portal.
Annual fees and insurances commissions cover general administration, maintenance, insurance and other ongoing costs – as set out in your Owners Corporation budget. Lot owners are charged their portion of annual fees in according to their lot liability. To access your Owners Corporation’s budge, log into Strata Plan’s online customer portal.
Most savings will be generated by the review of services, contractors, electricity audits, proactive services maintenance services such as Link 24 or a review of waste management practices and services. Strata Plan has a facilities Maintenance team which specialises in contact management. To access your Owners Corporation’s budget and finances, log into Strata Plan’s online Customer Portal.
Strata Plan’s role is to Inspire Amazing Life Spaces. We do this by ensuring you Owners Corporation has all the tools and guidance it needs to operate as best as possible. Strata Plan will administer the day to day secretarial and administrative instructions and requirements of the Owners Corporations in accordance with the Owners Corporation Act 2006. Strata Plan is responsible for holding all the Owner Corporation’s money on trust on its behalf, accounting separately for monies held, arrange insurance claims, maintaining the record of the Owners Corporation and reporting annually at the Annual General Meeting. Additionally, Strata Plan will guide your Owner Corporation committee in its decision making and ensure any resolutions passed at a meetings of all the Owners Corporation are officially recorded as a part of the Owners Corporation record.
As a lot owner you can nominate to be on your own Owners Corporation Committee. If your nomination is successful and you become a member of the committee your duties will be to:
- Act honestly and in good faith, exercise due care and diligence.
- Report to the Owner Corporation at each annual general meeting.
- Not make improper use of his or her position as a member to gain, directly or indirectly, an advantage for themselves or for any other person.
The committee of the Owners Corporation make the decisions and instruct the manager to act in accordance with their decisions on behalf of all owners. In the absence of a committee or chairperson the managers are delegated certain authorities to act on behalf of the Owners Corporation in accordance with the Owners Corporation Act (VIC) 2006
Strata Plan’s standard annual management agreement stipulates one visit per year. Additional visits can be arranged, however these may incur additional charges to your Owners Corporation.
Strata Plan and the Owner Corporation and its committee engage and provide the scope for contactors, on behalf of the Owners Corporation. If instructed, Strata Plan can arrange the contractor, otherwise it can prepare quotes for the Owners Corporation Committee’s approval, which can then decide on which contactor to use and the scope of work they will be responsible for. While Strata Plan has an extensive network of contractors at its disposal, cultivated over years of experience, your Owners Corporation is free to use whichever contactor they prefer.
An Owner Corporation committee must elect a chairperson. Your committee may not be legal if it fails to elect a chairperson. The chairperson also becomes the Owner Corporation’s chairperson. The chairperson’s role is to run meetings in a way that encourages decisions. The chairperson should allow fair and open discussions of matter and stick to the agenda, so decisions can be made. They convene the annual general meeting, convene a special general meeting, arrange a ballot and make the casting vote at a general or committee meeting when the count is equal. The chairperson does not have any special powers to make decisions on behalf of the owners’ corporation, committee or a lot owners. But the owner’s corporation can choose to delegate powers to the chairperson.
Annual General Meetings are held once a year, with extra meetings called if the need arises. Strata Plan will liaise firstly with the chairperson and thereafter committee members if any grievance arise. If need be, a meeting can be held after hours and on the weekend to facilitate the needs of clients. If your Owners Corporation has a committee Strata Plan recommends it convenes one meeting per quarter, with Strata Plan in attendance.
It all depend on what is set out in your Owners Corporation rules. Each Owners Corporation is different. You would have been provided with a set of rules when you purchased your property. You should be able to find the answer in this document. If you have any trouble thereafter, your strata manager should be able to point you in the right direction. Strata Plan recommends registering your pet with your Owner Corporation to ensure our records are clear on which lots in your Owners Corporation have pets and which do not. Related Form:
It all depends on what is set out in your Owners Corporation rules. Most buildings will govern the colour of the window or venetian blinds, but each Owners Corporation is different. You should have been provided with a set of rules when you purchased your property. You should be able to find the answer in this document. If you have any trouble thereafter, your strata manager should be able to point you in the right direction. If you have any queries, fill out our Enquiry Form and be sure to include your building’s address and your lot number.
As a general rule, ‘For Sale’ signs are not permitted without prior consent but it is best to speak to your strata manager first. Related Form: Signage/Installation Form.
There are certain procedures which must be undertaken before a dispute or complaint can be resolved. For example, if there are other parties involved or if the problem requires a lot of money to fix, it may need to go before the Owners Corporation committee to get approval by vote before it can proceed. This could be the reason why it takes longer than expected to resolve.
The lack of maintenance on a building can be the result of many factors, but more often than not if it comes down to either a lack of funds or inadequate reporting from occupants. Consider the following:
- Management: Collectively, committee members occupants and owners within a building have a duty of care to report defects or potential issues to the Owners Corporation or Strata Plan. Some buildings have a full-time or part-time onsite building manager which greatly assists in identifying issues immediately. If an Owner Corporation or Committee fails to address the incident, the building will deteriorate.
- Inadequate Contractors: The demise of a building can be contributed to contractors failing to perform their duty or service, i.e. gardener not attending to the gardens regularly or cleaners not fulfilling their roles or reporting issues back to the Strata Plan.
- Lack of Funds: Like any organisation, it’s difficult to address an incident without funding. Unfortunately, this usually occurs due to inadequate budgeting or owners not paying their fees on time. The option thereafter are to either raise a special levy to rectify the problem, do nothing or let the building deteriorate.
Leaks can be one of the issues that present no straightforward answer. The following can be used as a guide.
- Identity: The cause needs to be identified. This is usually performed by the home owner, however if it is unreasonable to expect the owner to perform the task, the Owner Corporation may do so on the owner’s behalf.
- Cause: If the cause is a result of another property, for example a neighbour or common property, then the responsibility to fix the cause lay with that owner where the cause emanates from.
- Resolve: Once the cause has been fixed, the lot initially making the request is notified and if they choose to, may decide to lodge an insurance claim via the owners corporations policy.
The above assumes all parties will co-operate in the process and the cause has been found. What happens if it is not that smooth? – The hardest part of any leak incident is identifying the cause. This can be a complicated and costly procedure. Identifying the leak is generally a process of elimination and can affect both private and common properties. In Strata Plan’s experience, we have found that the majority of leaks are associated with membranes beneath bathroom, balcony tiles and flashing. Where a party (owner or Owners Corporation) is non-respondent in addressing the cause of the leak, the person affected by the problem, may initiate a disputes process which may see the matter referred to VCAT.
The caretaker has been contracted by the Owners Corporation and provides services at the property, generally to a scope of works as defined by their contract or agreement with the Owners Corporation. A typical scope of works includes: ensuring the tidiness of common property, replacing light globes in common areas as required, reporting any damage to common property to Strata Plan and supervising lot owners and/or tenants as they move in and out of the property. Individual caretaker scope of works may vary.
The Owners Corporation is responsible for maintaining and improving common property, which is jointly held property. Balconies, or any other property which lies within a lot as specified by the plan of subdivision, is the responsibility of the owner. Generally, boundaries of property are defined as interior facing, exterior facing, median or hatched on the plan subdivision. These boundaries define if the area/s in question are private or common property. Admittedly, this can be a bit of a grey area, so it is always best to investigate. At a high level, however, if repairs are for your exclusive benefit, they are your responsibility and not the Owners Corporation’s.
Several things can impact timely repairs, such as financial constraints of the Owner Corporation or the need to raise special levies to undertake works. If the decision-making process of the committee is delayed and instructions to the manager to proceed is delayed then there will be a hold up in works being completed. There may be an insurance claim process prior to works commencing or expert reports need to be commissioned. These and others factors can delay repairs and maintenance. For important maintenance updates and access to your Online Community Portal, please ensure Strata Plan has your most relevant contact details.
If you have previously provided your email to Strata Plan, you should already have access. Check your email from “MyCommunity” for your password. If you have yet to register your email with Strata Plan or have changed your email recently, be sure to update us using our Contact Details Form. Once you have access to the portal, you will be able to view your Owners Corporation information – such as reports, your account and personal information, outstanding levies, Owners Corporation financial reports, budgets and transactions as well as insurance report.
Owners, committee members and tenants can log into the online portal and see financial information and notices related to the building via your online community portal. The portal also has several options to make notifications and communicate within your life space. To log-in simply head to our Community Portal page and log-in. Remove tenants (they cannot see financial info) also if you have not registered, please update your contact details and include an email for automatic registration.
The Owners Corporation usually holds building and public liability insurance. Each lot may be entitled to lodge a claim where damage has occurred to property which is considered to form part of the building. The internal contents of a lot (carpet, light fitting, blinds etc.) are not covered and owners should consider arranging their own cover. Keep in mind, each policy is different. Your policy information should be on your online Customer Portal.
If you believe you have a claim to make through your Owners Corporation insurance, which covers damage to property which is considered to form part of the building, you should get in touch with Strata Plan immediately on 1300 278 728. Our helpful team will be able to send you the relevant claim form for your insurance. Once a claim form is completed, the claimant should send all information to Strata Plan so it can be lodged with the insurer. It’s then the insurer’s role to assess the claim, make their decision and notify the claimant of their decision. Where the claim is approved, and a refund payment is received, the insurer will generally make payment by EFT payable to the Owners Corporation (as it is the policy holder) and send payment to the Owners Corporation. Once the payment has cleared, the claimant is reimbursed into their nominated account. If the damages are life threatening or make the property uninhabitable, it is best the claimant or strata manager contacts the insurer directly and have them arrange their emergency team to assess the damage. This can be arranged by calling Strata Plan on 1300 278 728.
Strata Plan receives a commission from strata insurers in the same way that a broker is paid a commission. This is factored into the premium and has no impact on the premium. Strata Plan collects this commission due to the work that goes into organising policies and making claims, as well as assisting with the day-to-day general enquiries about the policy. In organising for your owner’s corporation, Strata Plan is responsible for sourcing quotes from a number of insurers as well as managing the claims process on the behalf of the Owners Corporation. The commission received covers these services and is common practice in the strata and insurance industries.
You have cover loss of rent so in the event your property is deemed to be, not fit to live in while it is being repaired or rebuild is taking place.