A strata owners corporation is responsible for the management and upkeep of common property as well as the management of strata finances, insurance and funds. But in 2020, it can feel like anything but “management as usual” thanks to COVID-19. In New South Wales there have been official changes to potential meetings and voting methods; changes to repairs and maintenance guidelines; and changes to the way strata schemes can recover unpaid strata levies.
So how can a strata owners corporation be confident that they’re meeting their key responsibilities and requirements? Here are some of the new and changed obligations to consider this year.
Essential repairs and maintenance
Fair Trading NSW currently advises that non-essential repairs and maintenance be delayed where possible, so how can an owners corporation determine what is actually essential? Ultimately, let this be your guiding principle: Owners corporations must maintain safe and functional common property. For many owners corporations this will mean finding the balance between minimising safety risks and minimising costs, by providing key cleaning, repair and maintenance services.
Owners corporations must take appropriate steps to ensure the safety of owners and residents, including their own risk assessment on whether common facilities are to be kept open or closed.
Managing major works and capital works funds
Owners corporations may be facing pressure to delay major building works such as roof repairs or painting – particularly as many strata owners may be feeling the financial pinch of 2020. But the owners corporation also has an obligation under the Strata Schemes Management Act 2015 to implement their capital works plan so far as practical. While it might be prudent to delay any works that would require special or added levies right now, it may perhaps be best to continue with previously planned works.
Offering safe methods of voting and attending strata meetings
Depending on your strata plan, your owners corporation may already have electronic voting methods in place. But new 2020 legislation now requires all NSW strata schemes to supply alternative electronic methods for owners or their representatives to attend meetings and vote on strata scheme affairs. Now’s the time to be finding an ideal digital solution to support your strata scheme, or to speak with your strata manager about this.
Feeling lost? A strata manager could help
Of course, a strata manager takes a lot of the headaches around requirements and responsibilities away from members of the strata committee and owners corporation. Under the NSW Strata Management Act, your strata scheme can elect to delegate functions and record-keeping duties to your strata manager. This can provide invaluable peace of mind that your owners corporation has the right support and up-to-date information to meet your obligations in 2020 and beyond.