OCN History | Owners Corporation Network

OCN History

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The Owners Corporation Network: A History

 

The Owners Corporation Network (OCN) was born in February 2002 after a number of new owners of apartments bought off the plan in different Sydney buildings came together to discuss common issues. 

Many of them were wrestling with defects problems that their developers refused to fix. Many had ten-year million-dollar contracts with suppliers their developers had signed on their behalf that seemed impossible to cancel.

All were keen to find better, more efficient and less time-consuming ways to run their owners corporations. And everyone was struggling to find a way through the maze of concerns with very little information available about this brave new world of strata-living.

When the first group of 20 owners from various Executive Committees came together, they were startled to find they had so much common ground. They then agreed to set up an organisation together – the OCN – to meet regularly to discuss and share their issues, and to help each other out where they could.

Over the following months, then years, they worked together on problems as diverse as contractors and developers colluding to make money out of new owners with secret, hugely expensive back-hander deals; developers controlling Executive Committees in order to avoid having to pay for defects to be rectified; strata levies either being grossly underestimated at the time of sale, or being weighted in favour of commercial and retail lots that were part of the same strata plan; inexperienced building managers; bylaws that were completely unsuited to their buildings; pet policies that allowed, memorably, a small horse to be kept in one townhouse; and an agreement that left unit-owners paying for a nearby library on a deal done by a developer with the local council.

As well as helping each other and disseminating information about strata-living at the monthly meetings, the OCN set up a website and an email discussion group for members to ask questions and receive advice.

They also began holding regular information seminars, with invited guest speakers, to educate themselves, and others. Speakers included some of the country’s leading architects, insurers, strata managers, specialty service providers and strata lawyers. The first seminar was launched by Sydney Lord Mayor Clover Moore. Education packs were prepared and handed out.

Another turning point came early on, in April 2002, when the OCN made its first official submission to Government about strata-living, presenting to the Parliamentary Inquiry on NSW Building Standards. The industry was taken aback by such a well organised group making a forceful stand on the future of apartment-owners, asking for necessary changes to the legislation and Government policy, a viable and visible lobby group, and a strong, authentic alternative to the developers’ lobby.

The OCN charter was drawn up: ‘The Owners Corporation Network is made up of Owners Corporation members representing Sydney’s larger strata title residential developments and many thousands of individual property owners. The role of the OCN is to facilitate the ongoing improvement of living in and/or investing in large strata title buildings. The OCN will focus on facilitating necessary changes to government policy and legislation. Furthermore, the OCN strives to educate Owners Corporation Executive Committees and individuals through sharing experiences and disseminating information from relevant documentation and related organisations’. 

Since then, the OCN has appeared regularly in the press, in newspapers, magazines, on TV and on radio, with its opinions keenly sought by the media.

Representatives are asked to make submissions to Inquiries and receive a steady stream of invitations to address meetings and national conferences, including the bi-annual landmark strata event at Griffith University on the Gold Coast.

They’re also called in for frequent meetings with Government departments, advisors, legislators of all parties and the Minister for Fair Trading, now the Minister for Innovation and Better Regulation.

The OCN’s reach and influence has been growing steadily. Branches have been set up in Victoria and Queensland, and a carefully-curated sponsorship policy has allowed it to fund a full-time professional staff.

Today, as the peak professional body of strata owners and residents, the OCN has become a strong voice on behalf of strata owners everywhere, and continues to work tirelessly to make the future of apartment living as equitable, enjoyable and stress-free as it was always intended to be.   

What Members Say

"The whole strata community owes a huge debt of gratitude to you and the OCN executive. Much appreciated."

Robert, Darlinghurst

"I am very pleased with my membership of OCN, the discussions through sharing emails is very valuable in increasing my knowledge of strata living, the laws and EC responsibilities. I think I am better armed to tread the minefield of the managing agent responsibilities and the necessary action of the EC to monitor the contradictory interests of the agent."

Jim, Wollstonecraft

"I so appreciate being part of the OCN email forum. It provides a great opportunity for sharing ideas and learning"

Ingrid, Neutral Bay

"I must say that I have enjoyed and found consolation in the discussions that have been part of the email chain (forum). I did attend one general meeting and found that it was informative and the people "running the show" were knowledgeable and dedicated to the tasks that had taken on. In short, well done. You and the committee have and continue to support the Strata Community in a very professional manner."

Greg, Parramatta

"Nothing is easy in Strata World and we have been in building defects “mode” for some years – hopefully almost at an end but that process has been most demanding and difficult but again – greatly helped by the experience and wise counsel of other members of OCN."

Pat, St Leonards

"Keep up the good work, as many (if not most) strata schemes need your help, advice and representation at all levels of government."

Jann and John, St Ives

"I belong to OCN because of its professionalism.  I have found the meetings I have been to extremely well presented, to the point, and of course very topical and informative. Speakers on the whole certainly know their topic.  My role of Secretary last year was certainly assisted with the coverage regarding TPG & other subjects. Member newsletters are also of benefit as the topics are specific to strata matters."

Graham, East Balmain

I have enjoyed attending the quarterly OCN meetings and the exchange of emails between other Executive Committee Members and think OCN is playing an increasingly important role as a voice for strata dwellers and representing us at Government level. I wish the organisation continuing success in the future."

Pauline, Kings Cross

"The [forum] response to my question was amazing and really useful.  The OCN community is wonderful so thanks."

Jenny, Killara

"I would like to thank you all for the important effort that you are all putting in to look after apartment owners and tenants. It is so valuable and you are heroes. I would not have been able to deal with my duties as a strata chairman without your advice and assistance." 

Angela, Mascot

"The OCN is invaluable – many thanks."

Bill, Surry Hills

"OCN is proving invaluable"

Sue, Neutral Bay

"Thanks to all at OCN for your continuing efforts to keep us up to date with current strata information and advice...it has been very helpful to us"

Kate, Coogee

"When my wife & I first encountered a problematic Executive Committee I heard that OCN was a great help (from a Strata manager whom I knew) so we both joined and have gratefully used the on-line information sources. We continued to happily rely on OCN’s assistance when we progressed to Committee status & later as Chair & Secretary of our Committee. I still use OCN in my current role as Treasurer."

Peter, Chiswick

"Thanks to OCN for being such a rich resource of trustworthy information about strata matters."

Peter, Chiswick

"I wanted to extend my personal thanks for the very informative & interesting event today. The OCN team did an outstanding job in the organisation of this event & I enjoyed it thoroughly. The quality of speakers, the flow of conversation & interaction from the attendees - first class …& of course, the amazing Jimmy T - always a delight."

Sue, Epping

"OCN does a great job in providing a really valuable service to Strata owners."

Lois, Wollongong

"I am sure my appreciation of your good works is echoed by many in the Stratasphere. Keep up the good work."

John, Elizabeth Bay

"Once again, being able to discuss such things through this forum, helps clear the mind, puts things into perspective and helps one to understand their rights and to form a strategy if needs be. As a simple EC member trying to do what is in the best interests of lot owners, I truly value OCN and am grateful."

Pamela, Point Lookout

"The OCN is probably one of the best, most informed and most informative groups I have been involved with."

Alan, Maryville