The Missing Link

18 June 15

Caretaking


Building Managers either already have the practical skills required to conduct the caretaking or facilities management part of their new business or will receive training from the outgoing manager to be able to do so. In addition to this training there are now a number of highly qualified professionals who offer assistance during the lead-up to or immediately following a business changeover. As awareness of these services has grown, some Bodies Corporate now insist that Building Managers engage these professionals as part of the assignment process.


The key point here is that training in practical caretaking matters is available for Building Managers – if required.

Letting

With letting services, not only is training available but it is an essential element of the Building Manager’s ability to operate a letting business. Building Managers must complete a recognised training course to be able to obtain a letting or sales licence.


This means that prior to commencing their new business the Building Manger has obtained relevant training and readily has the option to seek further training if required.


Strata Laws


In my view, the missing link for new comers to the industry is an education in the strata laws that will significantly govern their day-to-day life and have a big bearing on the value of their business. Building Managers typically do not receive a basic grounding in or understanding of the strata laws before they commence operating their new business. For many Building Managers, training in strata law usually involves learning from their mistakes.


It is easy to say that having a working knowledge of strata laws is not the province of Building Managers – “leave that to the strata manager – that is their headspace”. The fact is that strata managers are engaged by Committees and they will generally do the bidding of whoever holds the balance of power in the building. This will often mean that the Building Manager’s interests are secondary to the Committee’s interests and the strata manager will interpret and apply the laws for the benefit of the Committee rather than the Building Manager. To avoid being walked over by the Committee, a Building Manager must ensure that they have a reasonable understanding of the strata laws.


Building Managers need to be able to:


1. read strata plans so they can clearly identify what is common property and what are lots;
2. understand exclusive use by-laws and who is responsible for the upkeep and maintenance of exclusive use areas;
3. know how voting works at meetings – including the use of polls and proxies;
4. be aware of the timing for when the submission of owners’ motions close for inclusion on AGM agendas;
5. understand the notice periods required (including postage) for the calling of an AGM or EGM;
6. know the Committee’s role in calling an EGM and, if need be, how to requisition their own EGM;
7. understand the types of motions that can go on the agenda of an AGM or EGM and what type of motion the Chairperson can rule out of order;
8. understand their rights in relation to when they can or cannot use proxies;
9. understand their right to vote at general meetings as a lot owners (notwithstanding that they, as Caretakers, may also have a material interest in the outcome of the vote); and
10. know how far they can go in “enforcing” by-laws.


The above list is not conclusive by a long way, but it will give you a pretty good indication of the sort of issues that Building Managers need to understand. In the absence of knowledge, strange happenings can occur in strata!
As a starting point, I recommend that Building Managers obtain the NSW Fair Trading booklet titled “Strata Living” – or download it off the Fair Trading website (www.fairtrading.nsw.gov.au). This is an excellent production and answers most of the queries raised above. A similar (but somewhat more detailed) booklet exists in Queensland titled “The New Layperson’s guide to Body Corporate Laws in Qld” – by Garry Maynard.

 

Liability limited by a scheme approved under Professional Standards Legislation
Disclaimer – This article is provided for information purposes only and should not be regarded as legal advice.
 

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