All lot owners in a strata scheme are automatically part of the owners corporation and have a right to take part in the decision making. The owners corporation is responsible for maintenance and repair of the common property. The owners corporation should hold regular meetings to decide the issues of the scheme, and has responsibility for the overall management of the scheme, including:
The owners corporation must prepare and keep a strata roll. The roll must be kept by mechanical, electronic or other means. There must be recorded for each lot:
The following information must be recorded for the common property and the strata scheme in general:
The owners corporation must levy (charge) owners in the strata scheme to raise enough funds to carry out its duties. All contributions must be worked out in proportion to the unit entitlements of each lot.
Funds must be retained in an administrative fund, for day-to-day expenses and a capital works fund for major works, maintenance or repairs.
The owners corporation must record all details of notices given under the Strata Schemes Management Act or any other Act. Orders under these Acts, or by a public authority, local council or a court, must also be recorded and kept for at least 7 years. Forms for the records of owners corporations can be purchased from some law stationers.
The owners corporation must keep the following information for at least 7 years:
Proxies given to the owners corporation must be kept for at least 7 years after the proxy expires.
The owners corporation must keep accounting records and financial statements for at least 7 years. These include:
The owners corporation must prepare financial statements:
An owner or mortgagee (or their authorised person) can make a written request to the owners corporation to inspect the records. The request must be accompanied by the prescribed fee (currently $31 for the first hour of work).
The inspection is to take place as agreed by both parties. If no agreement can be reached within 3 days after the owners corporation receives the application, the owners corporation may stipulate the time and date by giving written notice. The inspection date cannot be later than 10 days from the date the owners corporation receives the notification.
Documents can be inspected in person or through electronic access to the documents or any other means agreed. A person may make copies of documents but must not, without the consent of the owners corporation, remove the document from the custody of the owners corporation.
The owners corporation must keep the following information for at least 7 years:
A large scheme is one with more than 100 lots. Parking and utility lots are not counted in the calculation. Some special provisions apply to large schemes:
An owners corporation for a large strata scheme must not spend on an item or matter an amount greater than the amount specified for the item or matter (plus 10%) in estimates provided for that item or matter at an annual general meeting. This restriction may be removed by a resolution at a general meeting, and does not apply to expenditure for emergency purposes, including (but not limited to) the following;
There are special provisions that apply to owners in a two-lot scheme. These are summarised as follows:
The owners corporation must insure the building under a damage policy and public liability insurance with an approved insurer. The owners corporation must also maintain workers compensation insurance where required under the Workers Compensation Act 1987, and ensure any work conducted by volunteers is also insured as appropriate.
The owners corporation is responsible for ensuring that access to all parts of the scheme is provided for necessary fire safety inspections.
From February 2007, the NSW Pesticides Regulation requires that residents of multiple occupancy dwellings must be notified when licensed pest controllers apply pesticides to the internal or external common areas of their residence.
The rules apply to residential strata, community and company title schemes consisting of three or more dwellings, retirement villages, and caravan parks with long term residents.
The person responsible for organising the pest treatment must make sure that residents are given at least five working days notice. Notice of the treatment can be given in person, by fax, by email or telephone, by post, in letterboxes, under doors or by placing it on common notice boards and near the main building entrance.
Full details, fact sheets and blank notice forms are available from the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage on 13 15 55 or at www.environment.nsw.gov.au.
Drowning is a leading cause of preventable death in children under 5 years of age. If a strata scheme has a swimming pool or spa pool on the premises it is the responsibility of the owners corporation to ensure that the pool is fenced and meets pool fencing requirements.
Please visit the pool safety checklists page on the swimming pool register website for further information.
Pool owners are required to register their pools with the NSW Government Swimming Pool Register. Registration of each pool only has to be done once. If required, a strata managing agent can organise this on behalf of the scheme.
In strata schemes with more than two lots, properties with a pool are subject to mandatory inspection by their local council every three years. For more information on council pool inspection programs, contact your local council.
Further information can be found on the Swimming pools page on the Fair Trading website.
An owners corporation or strata committee must not obtain legal services for which payment may be required unless a resolution is passed at a general meeting of the owners corporation.
Legal services may be obtained without approval if:
Approval is not required to:
When estimated costs have been provided under the Legal Profession Act 2007, the owners corporation must give a copy to each owner and the strata committee within 14 days.
Where legal action has been brought against a lot owner/s or by lot owners against the owners corporation, the court may order that any money including costs, payable by an owners corporation may be levied only to lots as specified in the order.
Should an owners corporation wish to commence legal action of any type in its administration of the scheme, (including the obtaining of legal advice), where payment of money is involved, specific steps must be taken.
When an owners corporation undertakes residential building work and a contractual dispute with the builder or tradesperson arises, the owners corporation can take the matter to the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal. This can happen even if the builder or tradesperson invokes the Building and Construction Industry Security of Payment Act 1999 to claim any money they are owed under the contract.
Legal advice, services or action that concern the recovery of unpaid levies is exempt from the requirement for approval.
The owners corporation has a range of other responsibilities under the Act and other laws. These responsibilities can also be delegated to a strata managing agent, including:
The owners corporation is responsible for and may not delegate the following:
With the National Broadband Network roll-out, internet service providers have been proposing very fast broadband services and connection for strata buildings.
To make informed decisions about a service provider, visit the Commonwealth Department of Communications page - Broadband networks in apartment buildings.
Owners corporations should be wary of technical or contractual issues that could limit lot owners' choice of internet provider.
Check the terms and conditions in any proposed service agreement and ask about:
Owners corporations may also wish to seek independent legal advice.
Enquiries or complaints about a service agreement or internet provider can be made by contacting the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman (TIO) website or 1800 062 058.
The migration of fixed line and internet services to the NBN network may also affect monitored fire alarms and lift phones (fire and lift services).
Owners corporations should consult with their fire monitoring and lift service providers as soon as possible regarding these critical safety services. Make sure they are aware that:
Owners corporations should access the Good practice guide, developed to assist all parties to understand their role in managing the transition process.
For more details visit www.communications.gov.au
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