Governing the Compact City: The role and effectiveness of strata management | Owners Corporation Network

Governing the Compact City: The role and effectiveness of strata management

Executive Summary An estimated three million people live in strata titled homes in Australia. The state of New South Wales (NSW) has the largest number of strata titled properties of all states and territories in the country and approximately 1.2 million people live in strata titled homes in the state. In the Sydney metropolitan area, almost a quarter of the population live in strata titled homes. This means that for the first time in Australia’s history large numbers of property owners find themselves in a legally binding relationship with their neighbours for the communal upkeep and maintenance of their property. The governance structures that mediate this community- based property ownership represent a new form of civic relationship. With the development of increasing numbers of strata schemes, owners corporations, through their executive committees and the managing agents and other property professionals who support the sector, have become increasingly important in ensuring the maintenance and upkeep of significant parts of our cities. In effect, owners corporations act as a fourth tier of government that is democratically elected, with lawmaking, taxation and enforcement powers. But despite the growing prevalence of strata title in our lives, relatively little is known about how well the strata system works in practice to meet the needs of those people who own and live in strata properties. The Governing the Compact City project1 provides the first comprehensive assessment of how the strata title system is operating in regard to governance and management from the point of view of those who own, live in, and manage strata homes. While it is focused on NSW, the report’s findings have implications for the entire Australian strata market which is based on essentially the same governance and management arrangements. The research project The project had three major aims: 1. To explore the role, capacity and effectiveness of owners corporations as agencies of property governance and management in contemporary urban Australia. 2. To explore the capacity and effectiveness of strata managing agents as mediators of outcomes for residents and owners in the sector, and their role and function within the overall structure of management and governance. 3. To assess how well residential strata works from strata owners’ points of view. The research project focused on residential strata properties with three or more lots in NSW. The research was undertaken between 2009 and 2012 and included surveys2 and interviews with strata owners, executive committee members and strata managing agents in NSW, as well as analysis of the NSW strata database and NSW strata schemes management legislation and interviews with peak body representatives around Australia. In total, the research consulted 1,550 individuals including 1,020 strata owners, 413 executive committee members, 106 strata managing agents and 11 peak body representatives. This Executive Summary outlines the main findings of the research project and outlines five key challenges for further reform to improve the governance and management of a major form of housing provision in the 21st Century.

What Members Say

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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

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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

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Bill, Surry Hills

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Sue, Neutral Bay

"Thanks to all at OCN for your continuing efforts to keep us up to date with current strata information and 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

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

Alan, Maryville

"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