If you live in an apartment, townhouse or unit complex, you may be wondering exactly what your strata manager does. Here, Jarrod Smith from Vantage Strata explains what strata managers do, and when you should contact yours.
What are the key responsibilities of a strata manager?
“The best way to describe what a strata manager does in a really succinct fashion is that we’re an administrative and secretarial resource to the owner’s corporation,” Jarrod says.
- Assisting in the preparation of budgets and financial statements, including setting levies and debt collection
- Providing secretariat functions to the owners corporation, including supporting the coordination of committee meetings and Annual General Meetings
- Ensuring adherence to relevant legislation
- Coordinating maintenance and facilities management
- Managing disputes and conflicts within the complex
When should you contact your strata manager?
The first thing to note is that the way a strata manager interacts with you depends on if you own the home or are renting.
“We have full authority to talk to the owner and advise them and give guidance, and assist with whatever their query or complaint is,” Jarrod says. “If a tenant contacts us, we’ll do our best to be helpful, but legally we don’t have a right to advise them, and generally direct them back to their property manager or landlord.”
If you own your home, some of the things you can contact your strata manager for are:
- Questions about your levies – this could include asking what levies pay for, how they’re calculated, extension requests etc.
- Questions or complaints about the maintenance or use of common areas – this could be related to landscaping, driveways, shared recreational areas, which all fall under the strata manager’s responsibility.
- Requests relating to renovations or modifications to your house. Many owners corporations will have rules around what you can modify in your home, especially if it is external facing and will change the appearance of the home. Your strata manager can help you understand what you can and can’t change.
- Insurance-related queries – typically, part of your levies will go towards building insurance which applies to the entire complex (this is separate to home and contents insurance). If you are unsure what is covered, or need repairs done that may fall under insurance, it’s a good idea to first speak to your strata manager who should be able to help.
- Complaints – if you have minor complaints regarding your neighbours, your strata manager may be able to help you. For example, issues to do with the use of common areas, parking on site, potential noise complaints etc. More serious issues may require the authorities to be involved, and in that case your strata manager will advise you what they can and can’t assist with.
What about things your strata manager can’t help with?
“There can be a misconception that strata managers are also qualified lawyers, qualified builders, qualified certifiers et cetera – but it’s important that owners and tenants are speaking to the correct people and at times that means we have to direct you to other sources of information,” Jarrod says.
For example, if you’re seeking financial advice or insurance advice, your strata manager is not qualified to provide this. Equally, if there is a serious emergency, contact the authorities first, not your strata manager.
“I have actually had a few times where an owner has called me to say their unit is on fire, and asked the process – and I’ve had to tell them to call the fire brigade!”