If you have an issue with your strata manager, try to find out as much as you can before complaining. Ask questions first, rather than tell or demand, then escalate where necessary or appropriate: It may be a misunderstanding, it may not be in their powers, they may be on holiday, they may have been instructed by the executive committee, they may be right and you may be wrong! Ask why they did or didn’t do something, or why they believe they are correct. Ask for the appropriate legislation or regulations explaining their answer. Ask other strata managers for their opinion, they should be delighted to assist where they can as they may be first in line in a tender situation. Check out the Owners Corporation Network of Australia’s website and forum, relevant legislation and their contract terms. If you feel there are legitimate grounds for concern then escalate your complaint to:
- Your executive committee:They may have some additional information that will shed light on or resolve your concerns.
- The strata manager’s supervisor:It is always worth asking to speak with the manager’s supervisor – just so that you can explain your concern and see if it can get resolved or answered at this level first.
- An external accountant or advisor:Depending on the issue it may be worth getting a second opinion. For legal and process issues ask a legal expert or solicitor, for financial questions ask an accountant to peruse the finances.
- Strata Governing Bodies/Institutes/Licensing Authoritiese.g. Strata Community Australia. Most of these licensing bodies have a code of conduct and a complaints resolution system.
- Department of Fair Trading:Strata managers are legally appointed as an agent of your owners corporation. This places quite significant legal responsibilities on them. If they are not fulfilling their responsibilities appropriately then the relevant government department in your state would likely be interested.
- Terminate and retender the role:If they are still within the contractual period you will need to consider this move carefully. See section 2.6: Dismissing a strata manager. If it is past any contractual period usually only 3 months written notice is required. See Dismissing a strata manager2.6.
Consumer Trade and TenancyTribunal: This is administered by the Office of Fair Trading in NSW. An Adjudicator can make decisions on disputes with a strata manager. An Adjudicator may appoint an alternative nominated person as your strata manager to carry out:
- all the functions of an owners corporation
- all the functions of the executive committee and/or the chairperson, secretary or treasurer
- only some of those functions.
Relevant NSW Legislation: Strata Schemes Management Act (1996)
Section 139: Order for settlement of dispute between adjoining strata schemes