Brian's House Building Blog

It's Like War in Sparta: What Are Your Options When You Don't Agree with Your Strata Manager?

by Peyton Sanders

A strata manager is supposed to make sure bills are paid, levies are collected, and all parts of the building you live in are compliant according to the building codes of your state. However, there will be times when the property owners and their strata manager do not agree with the daily running of the building. Take the situation of a building on the Gold Coast, in which owners face an expensive repair bill for failing balcony balustrades, but the current management company has yet to address a problem they have known to exist for over a year. When in this type of situation, you may wonder what you as a property owner in the building can do to resolve the problem. If you feel your building's strata management company is letting you down, there are several steps to take before you part ways and look for a new, better one.

Checking the Fine Print

Before anything can be done, you first need to get together with the other property owners in the building to find out how many of them agree with your grievance. You will need to form a committee to deal with the strata manager if there is no committee already in existence. If you cannot find a majority of owners within the building with a grievance, you cannot take on the strata manager alone, as an individual dispute is no basis to terminate a contract. If you are in this situation, it may be time to sell up and consider living elsewhere.

Once you do have a committee that has the backing of the majority of the property owners, the next step is to make sure that everything done from here forward is in accordance with the details of the contract the property owners have with them. The contract you have with them is binding, and if you cannot find a resolution with the manager by just sitting down with them face-to-face and airing your grievances, then the dispute resolution process outlined in the contract needs to be followed.

Once you verbally advise the strata manager of the problems that need to be remedied and your expectations of when they should be attended to, you must follow this up in writing. A letter is all that is required, but you must list what issues you want to be fixed and when you expect them to be fixed by. Be realistic with your demands by doing some research first. For example, if there is a damaged wall in the common area to be repaired, get an estimate from a general contractor first to find out what type of repair is required and how long it will take to do.

Entering the Legal Process

If the strata manager does not respond to your written notice within the time frame specified, the next step is to issue a breach notice to them. The exact way to issue a breach notice varies depending on the wording of the existing contract with them. If you are not 100% confident you can understand the contract wording, now is the time to seek legal advice. If the strata manager chooses to dispute your claim at a later time, not having followed the correct dispute process could have your claim voided and you will need to start again.

A general overview of the process is for a formal breach notice to be issued to the strata manager. This will be followed by back-and-forth correspondence, and attempts should be made to find a resolution. It may be that the committee needs to attend a mediation with the strata manager to again discuss the issues face to face. It is only after following the contract resolution clauses and not reaching an agreement that dissolving the contract with the strata manager can take place.

Terminating Your Strata Manager

The final step is to have another meeting of the building lot owners, in which a motion to terminate the strata management relationship is put to the vote. If the majority of owners agrees, then a written notice to the strata manager can be issued to notify them the contract is over. This clears the way for you to enter into a contract with a new strata manager who has a proven reputation for getting the job done, and now, hopefully, all building issues can be addressed and a new positive working relationship will be formed.

To get started in the search for new management, contact a service like Austral Property Maintenance Pty Ltd.