Residents call for strata managers to be licenced

Survey results released today by the WA Apartment Advocacy, of 223 apartment owners, shows that 97% would like to see strata managers licenced and audited.

A further 53% would also like to change their strata managers, with owners rating their strata managers poorly in the areas of liaison and mediation.

Samantha Reece Director of WAAA stated that most strata managers rated positively in the areas of admin support and finances, such as preparing budgets and issuing minutes, but there was a definite need to improve communications.

“In this day and age it is important for strata managers to be more proactive with communications and utilise new technologies,” Ms Reece said.

“I have seen some stratas utilise apps, whereby timely information can be released as needed and this keeps residents informed and hence prepared.

“With data showing that most apartment buyers are professionals, it is highly unlikely, due to time constraints, that they will read lengthy emails and strata managers need to adapt to these trends accordingly.”

Scott Bellerby President of Strata Community Association WA (SCA WA) stated that the results were welcomed.

“The research showed that those residents that wanted to keep their strata managers rated them in the high 80% and above, but for those seeking a change, the ratings of their strata managers were below 10%,” Mr Bellerby said.

“A huge challenge for Strata Managers is finding effective ways to educate their clients on what they are actually contracted to undertake. Many property owners misunderstand the role of the Strata Manager, and this is no doubt a factor in some of the survey results.

“However, what this research has clearly shown is that strata managers need to be proactive with conflict resolution so that relationships between Council of Owners (COO) and the strata managers doesn’t sour to the point of no return.

“Client expectations are increasing, and the industry must evolve to meet consumer demands.”

While the WA Government is in the process of strata reform, they do not address the licencing of strata managers, as witnessed in the East Coast.

Mr Bellerby reinforced that the property industry as a whole remained firmly of the view that licensing was the most appropriate way to regulate strata managers.

“SCA has been urging the Government to implement licensing using the same model as adopted in NSW,” Mr Bellerby said.

“Based on advancements in the East Coast we strongly urge Government to approve the creation of a working group immediately following the passing of the current reforms, to provide a framework for the licensing of the Strata Industry.”

Ms Reece said that in the absence of licencing, apartment buyers should check who the strata manager appointed was before buying into a complex and verify they were SCA accredited members.

“At present anyone can open a strata management company as there is no licencing process in WA and SCA Accreditation is the only measure, currently in WA, which verifies a strata manager’s level of education and experience,” Ms Reece said.

“As such it is imperative that the COO for a complex are thorough with their appointment process to ensure that they engage a strata manager that is proactive and professional so that their development is maintained for the benefit of all residents.”

But as Mr Bellerby pointed out, it is also imperative that all apartment owners participate in the management of their building and ensure they attend the Annual General Meetings.

“We have schemes whereby residents still have not made a decision about major repairs to roofs and the like some three years later; this puts the strata manager in an impossible position,” Mr Bellerby said.

“It is essential that the COO and Strata Manager work together on a five-year maintenance plan to sustain the upkeep of the property, although ultimately the legislative responsibility lies with the strata company, being the lot owners collectively.”

Samantha Reece will deliver the outcomes of the research to a SCA event on 10 May. Those seeking to register can do so via this link

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