2.1 Administrator, decision maker, legal advisor or building manager? | Owners Corporation Network

2.1 Administrator, decision maker, legal advisor or building manager?

What do strata managers do? Your strata manager is mostly an administrator. They collect levies, pay bills and deal with compliance. They can also be useful guides on many process matters, drafting and financial reporting. But, with some exceptions, they have no special expertise in strata law or building management. Do not rely on them for legal advice, advice on important decisions, or to manage your building. A good strata manager will not purport to provide advice they cannot substantiate. If they advise on an issue that is substantial or may have unpleasant consequences (either for the committee, the owners corporation, an individual owner or occupier) ask them to supply the relevant acts, clauses, legal cases, web pages or detailed examples.

Do not accept ‘unsolicited’ legal advice from your strata manager on important courses of action. For example a strata manager incorrectly advised a strata committee, saying “it could not withhold consent to the application” and that “the committee may wish to reconsider its position following the threat of legal action.” On gaining expert legal advice both of these comments were found to be ill-founded. 

That said, some strata managers are attempting to differentiate themselves by offering advanced skills and experience in managing the building's affairs. Because of the number and style of buildings they manage, good staff hiring and ongoing training and communications, they may have some very good knowledge and experience that you can tap into. Large strata management companies often have legal experts on retainer. They may have other trusted service providers they can recommend, knowledge of the latest defect solutions or sample by-laws, building management templates, residents handbooks or operation manuals. If you have hired them for this purpose and they have proven they have the requisite skills, you may want these strata managers to be more hands on in their dealings and advice.

“Warring committees ... tight-fisted owners unwilling to pay to maintain their buildings ... plumbing emergencies in the middle of the night ... meetings that don’t reach a quorum ... legal stoushes. No one would seriously argue that strata managers don’t have a tough job.”

Gerry Chia Secretary, Owners Corporation Network of Australia

Always remember that your strata manager is contracted to the owners corporation. They can offer advice and direction, but final authority lies with the owners corporation or the strata committee that makes the decisions in the same way a board of directors does for a company. 

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