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2017 Winter Newsletter

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Welcome to the 2017 Winter edition of Illawarra Strata Management’s quarterly news-letter.

The compulsory By Law review is well underway for most of our clients. Whilst a good portion of our clients are taking this task seriously and seeing it as a great opportunity for change, others are not giving it the time it deserves.

Your by laws are your “laws”. It represents the minimum standard for acceptable behaviour within your scheme. It is the set of rules that are registered on your Title Deeds and will be the basis for any disciplinary procedures going forward. If you do not have a good set of by laws that are fair and just and not discriminatory, then holding someone accountable for any breach will be difficult.

We strongly urge all of our clients to take this as a great opportunity to encourage positive changes to any by laws that are archaic or simply unmanageable. Positive Changes are always a good thing.

 

The Owner’s Portal

So often we hear owners asking about the Owner’s Portal with a good portion of clients indicating that they’ve never used it, or simply don’t know it exists.

Owner access codes and passwords are reset every year immediately after the AGM. At this time, owners should take the time to log in to check personal details, obtain copies of Minutes, Plans, insurance documents and the like.

We can even review the use of the Portal and print a report as to who uses the system and what they access. It’s an interesting report for committee’s to see what documents are most popular for owners to access. The highest usage of the portal for April, was an owner in Equinox showing 26 views. That’s fantastic use of that resource.

Facebook

Did you know that Illawarra Strata has a Facebook page? We often provide interesting information via Facebook and even utilise social media to update clients on any urgent after hour activity.  We’d love you to Like our Page.

Safety for Owners

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The six most common objects or circumstances that were directly involved with the cause of an injury from slips trips and falls in a three year period were:

1. external traffic and ground surfaces (24%)
2. internal traffic and ground surfaces (11%)
3. steps and stairways (10%)
4. road transport (9%)
5. holes in the ground (3%)
6. sitting furniture (3%)

Identifying slip and trip hazards
Common slip hazards include:

– spills of liquid or solid material
– wet cleaning methods
– wind-driven rain through doorways
– a sudden change in floor surface, for example joins between carpet and polished timber
– change from wet to dry surface
– dusty and sandy surfaces
– the incline of a ramp
– loose or bumpy flooring
– low light levels
– use of unsuitable footwear

Common trip hazards include:

– ridges in floors or carpets
– worn floor coverings or broken tiles
– potholes and cracks in floors
– changes in floor level
– thresholds and doorstops
– floor sockets and phone jacks
– cables from power extension units
– loads that obstruct vision
– obstacles in traffic areas.

Things to consider—for flooring

– Can water be walked onto smooth floors (e.g. foyers) on rainy days?
– Are there any hard, smooth floors in wet or oily areas?
– Are there any leaks of fluids onto the floor from processes or machines?
– Are there any floor surface transitions not easily noticed (any ridge that is as high as a footwear sole or higher)?
– Is the floor slippery when wet?
– Is there poor drainage which could result in pooling of fluids?
– Are any anti-slip paint, coating profiles or tapes worn smooth or damaged?
– Are there any isolated low steps (commonly at doorways)?
– Are there any trip hazards due to equipment and other objects left on the floor?
– Are there any raised carpet edges or holes worn in carpets?
– Are there any tiles becoming unstuck or curling at the edges?
– Are there any holes or unevenness in the floor surface?

Things to consider—for stairs

– Is the lighting insufficient for ramps or steps to be seen clearly?
– Do any steps have too small a rise or tread or an excessive step edge (nosing)?
– Are any step edges (nosings) slippery or hard to see?
– Are the steps uneven or are there excessive variations in step dimensions?
– Are handrails inadequate on stairs?
– Are ramps too steep or too slippery?

Things to consider—outdoor areas

– Is there a build up of moss or other vegetation on pathways?
– Are there any surface transitions not easily noticed (any ridge that is as high as a sole of a shoe / footwear or higher)?
– Are there potholes in footpaths or walkways?

As you can see, many of these items are really obvious but we sometimes cannot see the forest for the trees. This means that sometimes it is good to have a reminder to have that
…’Ah, that’s right’…..moment.

Credit to QIA Group for this information.

 

2017 Autumn Newsletter

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Welcome to the Autumn 2017 edition of Illawarra Strata Management’s quarterly newsletter.  Please don’t disregard this information as it is extremely important and forms part of the obligations under the new Act.

CHANGES TO LEGISLATION

By Law Review and Consolidation

All owners corporations are now required to review their by-laws before 30th November 2017. This will require a committee or subcommittee being formed (or even all owners if appropriate) to review the existing by laws registered for your scheme, and consider the new model set as per the Act and Regulation. In addition, there are many management type of by laws that quite a few of our clients have that may be of interest to you.

No longer will schemes simply register the amendments or additions. Schemes are now required to lodge a consolidated version of their by laws on every change going forward.

Some of the things that the owners corporation may want to consider in the review are the changes to the existing Pet By Law, Smoking within schemes, hanging of washing and so on.

In addition, you may wish to consider minor renovations, major renovations, fire inspections, installation of air conditioning or even security system / key systems.

Remember that by laws, once registered, are your scheme’s binding set of laws that all residents must abide by and incorporate into their daily lives.

The Strata Schemes Management Act 2015 and the Strata Schemes Regulation 2016 states that a scheme’s by laws cannot be unfair, unjust or unconscionable. For this purpose the review should be taken very seriously to ensure that the new by laws that your scheme chooses to approve are right for your building, fair to all parties and are manageable.

A by law that is harsh or unconscionable is unenforceable.

Some links that may be of interest in relation to the compulsory by law review are shown below:

http://www.fairtrading.nsw.gov.au/sites/ftw/About_us/Have_your_say/Reform_of_strata_laws.page

https://www.domain.com.au/advice/the-21-new-nsw-strata-laws-you-really-need-to-know-20161122-gsuuo2/

http://www.bannermans.com.au/articles/strata-and-development/198-by-law-review-are-you-ready

All of the above are informative and make interesting reading and will help your scheme move in a positive direction towards creating great by laws for your building.

2016-2017 Summer Newsletter

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Welcome to the Summer Edition of Illawarra Strata Management’s quarterly newsletter. 

CHANGES TO LEGISLATION

Did you know there have been a few Changes in LEGISLATION as of 30th November 2016? Some that may interest you are:

ELECTRONIC VOTING –

Your scheme will have the option of allowing different methods of voting and not just be limited to physical attendance and proxy voting. Options into the future include attendance at a meeting via:

  • Skype, Webinar & virtual attendance
  • Email voting
  • Telephone attendance and any other technological advance that comes our way.

Taking advantage of all of these extra options for “virtual attendance” is easy. We will be listing a standard motion on everyone’s next general meeting agenda to consider and /or approve other voting methods.  Now, clients who are house bound, interstate, on holidays or simply working hard to make a living, can vote via other methods and have their voices heard.

PROXY FORMS –

In the past an owner has been able to hold as many proxies as they wanted which sometimes led to stacked voting. From 30 November 2016, this is no longer permitted and proxies are limited to either 1 per person for buildings with up to 20 lots or, where the building has more than 20 lots, the limit for holding proxies is 5%. Greater communication will be required for those wishing to utilise a proxy for voting purposes. Going forward, it will be important to contact the agent (or your proposed proxy) to determine whether they have exceeded the limit.

Quick Snap  / Terminology

As of the 30th November 2016 an Executive Committee will now be known as a Strata Committee. Also, Sinking Fund Forecasts will be known as Capital Works Funds.

Facebook – Illawarra Strata

Like our page, or become our friend and be updated with all the legislative changes.

Christmas Closure

We will be closed from Wednesday, 21st December 2016 at 3.00 pm and will be re-opening on Wednesday, 4th January 2017 at 9am.  A Christmas newsletter will be distributed to all clients in December.

2016 Spring Newsletter

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Spring is the perfect season to try something new. For us, it’s all about learning and passing on the benefits to you.

The new strata reform takes effect from 30th November 2016. As you may be aware, these changes have been “discussed” for many years, and in that regard, we’ve been changing our procedures & systems to allow smooth transition for quite some time.

There are a lot of significant changes that may or may not affect you. We suggest that you try to attend a free OFT information session to gain a greater understanding of the new reforms.

 

Key Changes include:

  • Collective Sale clauses. Schemes no longer need a unanimous vote (100%) to dissolve / sell a strata scheme. The requirement is now 75%
  • The Sinking Fund is now called the Capital Works Fund and the Forecast is required to be reviewed and followed on an annual basis.
  • Proxy Farming – there are now restrictions on the numbers of proxies a person can hold.
  •  Increased requirements with meetings including the need to send meeting notices to tenants (where a building has more than 50% tenants noted on the strata roll).
  •  A quorum is 25% of financial owners, however if that number is not achieved within 30 minutes, the chairperson can deem a quorum and declare a meeting valid (with conditions).
  •  There are new model by laws. A scheme has 12 months to determine if they wish to adopt the new model set of by laws and have them registered on Title.
  •  Electronic voting (via email, skype etc) is now acceptable if a Strata Corporation resolves to allow it. This will greatly benefit those who work out of the area, or those who can’t afford to take time off work once a year.

We are informed that the basis behind the bulk of the legislative changes was to encourage strata scheme owners to take more interest in the running of their scheme and to increase accountability to Strata Corporations.


As usual, we are looking forward to bringing these changes to you at your next meeting.

2016 Winter Newsletter

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Welcome to the 2016 Winter edition of Illawarra Strata Management’s quarterly news-letter. 

Our office is currently undergoing a portfolio restructure and as a result, all of the team are undergoing further training.

Unfortunately Lynne has left our team to venture into a different field in the service industry, which has meant a reshuffle. Rachael is now in our accounts department and is doing a wonderful job of paying our client creditors very efficiently.

We now have four Strata Managers in our team, being Tracey, Bronwyn, Louise & Leonie. Everyone will receive notification shortly as to who is looking after their strata management needs. Please keep in mind that in addition to Tracey having her own portfolio, she is also overseeing all other portfolios.

Dale Cross has re-joined our team and you’ll hear her cheery voice answering your calls. As Always, Christie is working hard behind the scenes in our administration team.

Our goal with the restructure is to provide you a better service. Please feel free to call Tracey to discuss any aspect of your management needs.

 

The Owner’s Portal

The Owner’s Portal (accessible via our website) is one of the biggest tools to help you gain access to various documents. Each owner has been provided with an access code & password to allow you to log into this Portal.

Things you should find for your scheme on the Portal include:

Plans, Certificate of Title, By Laws

Meeting Notices, Meeting Minutes, Committee Meeting advices & Minutes

Your levy notice

Financial documents, balances, invoices & quotes

Some of the documents are available for all to view however some of the more information sensitive documents (such as your levy notice) is only available for viewing by you.

You can also change your personal details via the Owner’s Portal, such as your phone number, email address, property manager details etc. Please take a look at the Portal and become familiar with what you can access.

2016 Autumn Newsletter

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Welcome to the Autumn 2016 edition of Illawarra Strata Management’s quarterly newsletter. 

In this edition we are covering some of the changes to the Strata Schemes Management Act that are coming in to effect from 1st July 2016. The information is in no way comprehensive.

If there is anything you would like included in one of our upcoming newsletters, please do not hesitate to ask.

WHAT SHOULD YOU EXPECT WITH THE LEGISLATIVE CHANGES …?

Here’s a brief summary on some of the key changes.

Greater Accountability.

Once the legislation is in place, your agent will need to disclose certain information to you such as insurance commissions. We are already doing this and implemented that disclosure a couple of years back when we first were aware of this change.

Another legislative change is the restriction on agents to insist on long term contracts. For new buildings, the limit is 12 months, and for subsequent contracts, that will be limited to 3 years.

Meeting Attendance

It is proposed to allow for electronic attendance at meetings. This should include skype and other methods such as GoToMeeting.

In addition, the rules on proxies are changing. Lot owners and developers will no longer be able to proxy farm, which means increased fairness for voting. The downside to this means for larger schemes, it will be quite difficult to achieve a quorum. This is why it is important to attend your Annual General Meeting. It’s only once a year, and generally only runs for an hour.

Mandatory Defect Inspection Reports & Building Bonds

The proposed legislation changes allows for greater protection of owners for newly constructed buildings. The idea behind this move is to increase consumer protection if a new building has defective work. The bond will maintain developer and builder accountability for their work.

The bond will be 2% of the contract price of the building. The Developer will also need to prepare a maintenance schedule to be tabled at the first AGM. Developers will be required to engage an independent building inspector to prepare a defect inspection report (at their cost) between 12 & 18 months after completion.

Owner Renovations

The reforms will provide clearer more appropriate approvals for owner renovations. Certain restrictions will be waived for minor cosmetic changes. Items such as flooring changes will only require 50% approval at a full meeting rather than the previously required 75%.

By Laws

The reform will address smoke drift and the issue surrounding pet ownership will also undergo an overhaul. A big change will be relating to the unauthorised use of the visitor car park and fines will be increasing.

As you can see, there are a number of key changes that are coming into place. The changes are exciting and we hope you can see the benefit of the reform to the legislation.

 

COMMUNICATION           

 

When it comes to Strata Schemes, clear communication is imperative and it’s important to remember how many “relationships” exist within this one entity:

 

Strata Manager <-> Owners Corporation

Strata Manager <-> Individual Owner

Strata Manager <-> Executive Committee

Executive Committee <-> Owners Corporation

Executive Committee <-> Residents

Strata Manager <-> Property Manager

Individual Owners <-> Property Manager

Strata Manager <-> Contractor

Executive Committee <-> Contractor

Individual Owner <-> Contractor

 

And the list goes on… We are always trying to improve our communications with you.

AND A THANK YOU TO YOU>>>>

We are in our 14th year of trading. We’d like to thank you for being a part of our journey and hope you continue with us for many years to come.

 We are not JUST offering you Strata Management Services. We are offering you PEACE OF MIND…..

The Owner’s Portal

So many owners are still unaware that they can access various documents via the Owner’s Portal.

Access to the portal is via our website www.illawarrastrata.com.au.  Click on Resources, click on Owner’s Portal and then enter your personal passwords etc.

As a lot owner, these are the things you can expect to see on the portal include:

  • The registered strata plan
  • The certificate of Title
  • The by Laws for your building
  • Minutes and Agenda’s
  • Annual financial documents
  • Your current balance for levies including the due date
  • The balance of the trust account.

As a committee member, you’ll get access to additional information including:

  • Executive Committee Meeting Minutes & Agendas.
  • More complex financial documents, such as Cash Management Reports
  • Audits
  • Documents that may be subject to privilege (NCAT documents and the like.

Please familiarise yourself with the portal as there is a lot of information available to you 24 hours a day.

This is also the forum to change your personal details including address, phone number and email address.

2015 Summer Newsletter

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Welcome to the Summer Edition of Illawarra Strata Management’s quarterly newsletter. 

FACEBOOK…

Did you know we have our own page and regularly update it with interesting information on case law…or most recently, some fact sheets about the Changes in LEGISLATION?

Why not like our Facebook page and be kept up to date with current strata legislation and other information.

As part of the legislative changes, we have already begun comprehensive retraining of all staff. Our office policy is to pass on the educational benefits, therefore, the changes that we learn, will be passed on to our valued clients. We believe that knowledge is power, and we want you gain a greater understanding of the strata world, which will ultimately mean that together, we can work more efficiently in the management of your building.

Finally, there are some thing to remember for the upcoming holiday season, which extends into the January 2016 school holidays. Most builders tend to close down for a good portion of December and January, which does make finalising work challenging. Please keep this in mind during the summer season and make allowances for manufacturing delays. We hope that all our clients and their families stay safe over the summer season.

Owner Portal

We have recently upgraded our Owner Portal which is accessible via our website www.illawarrastrata.com.au

Previously lot owners have only been able to gain access to basic information that relates to their individual lots, levies and personal information.

We have recently upgraded our system to allow for posting of Minutes, Agendas, By Laws, Insurance documents and other “non private” information to the portal for easy access by you.

Please note that this is a work in progress and it will take quite some time to get your historical data onto the portal.

Every owner has been provided with an access code and password quite some time back or in your welcome pack if you are a new owner. Please use these unique passwords to gain access to the portal & have a look around.

In terms of additional documents such as Minutes etc, we expect that to be fully up and running by Christmas 2015.  If you’d like something specific posted to the portal, please contact our office and we’ll arrange to have it posted (subject to privacy laws)

 

2015 Spring Newsletter

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DID YOU KNOW????

According to Office of Fair Trading statistics more than two million people in NSW are strata dwellers, accounting for almost 25 per cent of greater Sydney’s population.

There are approximately 75,000 strata and community schemes across the state that total about $350 billion in total assets.

With those facts in mind, there is little wonder that Strata Reform is back on the agenda.

From a local perspective, we recently provided feedback for an article in the Advertiser. Below is the link to read about how the reform could fuel construction grown in the Illawarra.

http://www.illawarramercury.com.au/story/3239059/strata-laws-to-help-wollongong-boom/?cs=3637

Some of the more interesting proposed changes include:

·         better management of parking on common property

·         new model by laws that address smoke drift, the impact it has on other residents and changes to the standard pet by law

·         provision of a 12 month time frame to adopt the new model set of by laws.

STRATA MEETINGS

And their costs

Did you know that your one hour AGM held during business hours in our office is covered by your standard management fee?

Additional meeting charges ONLY apply if a meeting is held after hours or outside the office. If you wish to save on fees, perhaps consider holding your annual meeting within business hours at the office.

Did you also know that either attending the meeting (once per year) or sending a valid proxy (if you’re unable to make it), will also save you money??

A Meeting needs a minimum of 25% attendance for it to go ahead. This is called a quorum. If a quorum is not achieved within 30 minutes of the start time, we are obligated to adjourn the meeting. This results in an adjournment fee being charged and a little bit of time wasting for those owners who have shown up. So….to save money, send in your proxy form & put your votes in writing.

NBN

NBN is all around us – its either here, or its coming soon. Your committee should consider a policy on how to handle installations and what is acceptable. Service providers should ensure that they connect the NBN from the white box above the door, to the inside of the unit WITHOUT drilling additional holes or running extra conduit. Keep it neat & there’ll be no complaints.

2015 Winter Newsletter

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Welcome to the 2015 Winter edition of Illawarra Strata Management’s quarterly news-letter. 

As is usual in business, there have been some recent changes to our personnel. At this point, we continue to have three strata managers, who are Tracey Payne, Bronwyn Turner and Louise Hill. In addition, the managers are supported by Rachael, Kerry and Christie with Lynne carrying out all account related tasks.

Generally, with change, there is challenges and we are meeting those challenges head on. There has been some change to our structure and our standard reporting processes. Accounting records are distributed monthly and manager reviews are sent to the committee on a monthly basis, or less often if your scheme has requested it.

More information is being placed on the owner portal, meaning greater transparency. Finally, if you have time, please take a look at our new upgraded website. This newsletter, and those from archives are being posted to the website to allow easy access.

If you’d like your testimonial to be added to the website, please send it through. In addition, if you have constructive feedback, we will welcome that also.

Yours sincerely,

Illawarra Strata Management

STRATA LIVING

Strata Living isn’t so bad so long as you learn to accept, give way and compromise.

The biggest tip we can give for successful strata living is to know your scheme. Make sure you understand the difference between lot property and common property. Obtain a copy of your by laws, read them, understand them and implement them in your strata life.

Respect your neighbours. You live in a community environment and therefore, your actions on common property affect others. Be mindful of your behaviour and that of your visitors whilst on common property.

Understand your role as a unit owner and the different role of the committee. Try to attend committee meetings and understand what functions they fulfil in assisting management of your scheme.

Find out and understand the process surrounding repairs and maintenance.

Know your rights as a strata lot owner and understand your obligations as a member of the Owners Corporation.

Ask questions – ask lots of questions so you have a greater understanding of how your asset is managed.

 

WINTER TIPS FOR THE BODY, MIND & SOUL

* Exercise – find something you like to do & enjoy some of the winter sunshine. Go for a walk or run, or join a team sport.

* Eat Healthy. Everyone likes to indulge on yummy comfort food when it’s cold. Try & mix it up with some lighter options to keep your energy levels stable.

* Vaccination? Get a flu shot.

* Stay Connected – organise a night out with friends. Even though it is cold, stay social – it invigorates the mind & soul.

* Have Fun – in the Sun! Stock up on Vitamin D. Put on a coat & scarf & kick a footy around with the kids (or grandkids). Have a picnic – go out and enjoy.

 

WINTER TIPS FOR THE HOME:

  • Most importantly, have an adequate number of suitable smoke alarms installed throughout your home and make sure that you test them regularly.
  • Check electric blankets for damage or frayed cords before placing on the bed.
  • Take care to keep curtains, tablecloths and bedding away from portable heaters.
  • Always extinguish candles or any other open flames before going to bed.
  • If you use a clothes dryer make sure you clean the lint filter each and every time you use it.