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Body Corporate Issues in Canberra

By 22 September 2011 11

Hi everyone, just got involved with the executive committee on my body corp.

I would like to know if there is a body corp ombudsman in the ACT??

I have lived here for years and did not realise that I could be involved in the running of the place.  

Since finding that my bc fees have gone thru the roof I found out I could get on the EC.

I now know why the fees are so high, decisons were being made and no opposition was being made to them.

We also have tradesmen/gardeners who appear to treat the place as a cash cow!

What can I do especially Re: keeping costs down??

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11 Responses to Body Corporate Issues in Canberra
#1
Bosworth12:36 pm, 22 Sep 11

flatone, you want good value, not low cost.

Keep on the back of the body corp manager. The squeakiest wheel.

Ask the body corp manager to get several new quotes for the gardeners – you might get better value

At the AGM, move a motion to reduce the BC fees.

If you are not getting good service on an issue, escelate the issue to the boss of your body corp manager.

Depending on the number of residences, the commitee may be political.

Not sure about ombudsman,

#2
lukpea1:16 pm, 22 Sep 11

Possibly ACAT however you might need to look into that…..

#3
Sammy1:37 pm, 22 Sep 11

Remember that any existing members of the committee are also property owners in the body corporate, so its unlikely that they would have been using it as a ‘cash cow’ as this would be contrary to their own interests. Do you really live there, or are you an investment owner?

#4
milkman1:45 pm, 22 Sep 11

You probably need to sit for a while and work out where you think the $$ leaks are. The statements should be tabled each meeting.

As well as changing tradesmen or gardeners, find out if you can get them to do less. Do gardens need to be weeded so often? Does the grass need to bee mowed weekly (or at all in winter)?

#5
edlang7:01 pm, 22 Sep 11

Is this a BC in Kambah?

#6
Bramina8:06 pm, 22 Sep 11

I have the same thing at my strata.

The gardeners come once a month to mow the grass, even when it is too cold or dry to grow. They continuously pile more and more mulch onto the gardens. I keep thinking they couldn’t possibly do any more, but they do. I guess they are just very experienced. They plant trees every time they come, even though there is no space.

#7
toriness11:19 pm, 22 Sep 11

raise your areas of concern with the other EC members – they should be able to give a good explanation of why how much is spent on what in your complex, and what process was used to select the gardener (good practice is getting the BC managing company to get 3 quotes based on one set of requirements/goods/services). the EC is elected at the AGM for the very purpose of making such decisions to help ensure the complex is maintained and improved to at the very least maintain but ideally improve the value of the complex which also translates to the value of your property. BC fees pretty much never go down, only up. i fully appreciate increases can be a shock (sometimes serious capital works are required which cause a particularly big jump – such shocks have been lessened by recent minimum contribution + medium term planning in relation to sinking fund management laws in the ACT) – but before reacting, have a good look at the financials, take a deep breath and consider carefully whether the costs actually are worth it – not just because it’s an investment in your property but also the maintenance of the complex makes your homelife (your surrounds) much more pleasant. what i mean by the latter is that you could demand the gardener is sacked, but do you want to live amongst dirt and/or weeds? you’ll most likely find yourself a lone voice if that’s the case. last piece of advice – if you do carefully consider all the above and think there is something seriously awry ie misappropriation/misuse of BC funds – then absolutely raise it with the EC first, perhaps the BC managing agent, and get it on the record at the next AGM.

#8
Flatone10:49 pm, 26 Sep 11

Wow, I didn’t realise I would get so many responses!
We are having gardening quotes (for landscaping) which have been instigated by one person on the EC who had the run of the place for a while. The quotes that are coming in are only from the contracted gardener and there are no competing quotes as a gauge of how cheap or expensive he is.
I have a sneaking feeling that there is a relationship between the bc manager’s company and the gardener, nothing can be proven but things don’t seem right. I seem to get a lot of sidetracking when I quiz the bc manager.
There are more pressing jobs than the garden and I feel it is a waste of money. It is a sensitive issue quizzing someone about nepotism (and this is Canberra!)!!!

#9
krats8:44 am, 27 Sep 11

Flatone said :

Wow, I didn’t realise I would get so many responses!
We are having gardening quotes (for landscaping) which have been instigated by one person on the EC who had the run of the place for a while. The quotes that are coming in are only from the contracted gardener and there are no competing quotes as a gauge of how cheap or expensive he is.
I have a sneaking feeling that there is a relationship between the bc manager’s company and the gardener, nothing can be proven but things don’t seem right. I seem to get a lot of sidetracking when I quiz the bc manager.
There are more pressing jobs than the garden and I feel it is a waste of money. It is a sensitive issue quizzing someone about nepotism (and this is Canberra!)!!!

You must be joking!!not collusion/conflict of interest in CANBERRA

#10
troll-sniffer10:44 am, 27 Sep 11

Flatone said :

Wow, I didn’t realise I would get so many responses!
We are having gardening quotes (for landscaping) which have been instigated by one person on the EC who had the run of the place for a while. The quotes that are coming in are only from the contracted gardener and there are no competing quotes as a gauge of how cheap or expensive he is.
I have a sneaking feeling that there is a relationship between the bc manager’s company and the gardener, nothing can be proven but things don’t seem right. I seem to get a lot of sidetracking when I quiz the bc manager.
There are more pressing jobs than the garden and I feel it is a waste of money. It is a sensitive issue quizzing someone about nepotism (and this is Canberra!)!!!

As one of only a couple of driving forces in the bc executive committee for my complex, I can tell you that I’ve seen more poor decisions made by blow-ins and johnny-come-latelys in their first year than experienced people in 10 years.

I was away a couple of years ago and the AGM was essentially taken over by a newbie who had exactly the same attitude as yours, couldn’t see the value in the gardener being there over winter, thought the cleaning contractor was too expensive etc. Suffice to say the gardener and cleaner were replaced by far better quotes… with the inevitable result that both services suffered mightily, the gardener even pulled the pin on the contract admitting his quote was stupidly low, the cleaner only did half the work the previous one did.

On the other side of the coin, you might find that with the requirement to produce a professional sinking fund plan for ten years, the contractors who produce the reports err very much on the side of caution when recommending work. Our complex was assessed as requiring an additional $1100 per unit sinking fund fees each year just to meet the recommended plan, or a sinking fund rate of over 50%. The recommendation was to accept the plan, and I’m sure if the experienced BC members hadn’t been there to intervene, thour BC fees would have risen 50%. As it was we agreed to lift the sinking fund to 20% from 10% with the possibility of raising a levy to cover an upcoming large painting job in three to four years.

It is also often the case that people just don’t realise how much tradesmen cost. For instance to lay a new copper water pipe as the old stell one had corroded: $35,000. To prepare window frames, gutters and eaves and paint same on a two storey complex of about 30 units: around $30,000. To repair a small patch of lawn, cut back overgrown shrubs, trim a couple of small trees, fill in some holes, plant a dozen shrubs: $2000. Over a year all these ‘small’ maintenance jobs that are required to keep a complex in good presentable shape all add up.

To my mind it’s money well spent, the complex I live in attracts a premium of around $30,000 per unit sold compared to similar units with less ‘appeal’.

#11
watto2311:00 am, 27 Sep 11

I’ve been on my BC committee for years. Almost the 10 I’ve been living in my place.

We once actually lowered the fees, but that was a while back now. Truth is most costs have been rising so its very difficult to not raise the BC fees.

However we provide things like a skip/hopper twice a year for hard waste. It actually has lowered the amount of dumping in the garbage area. Thats a low cost thing compared to fixing concrete etc.

We also go 50% on replacing fences that share common property. I know one person who actually moved out because of this as they had minimal fencing and fixed it themselves….

However when it comes down to it, most people don’t care until things get expensive and often its stuff that needs repair 20+ years old.

Also we’ve had many issues with gardeners. I think there was a bit of a cash cow thing going on. I appreciate gardeners are not free, but its also the kind of job you expect to notice the differences. The current garderners actually seem to do something the once a month they come in to garden, ie you notice the plants trimmed or the weeds gone.

IMO landlords don’t seem to care until the costs go up, and most members on the committee are live in owners, so they see the benefits of what gets done, more so than the landlords, but in reality they benefit with improved capital gain, which is what most of them are after.

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