If your strata scheme is self-managed, contact the Chairperson of the committee. If there is no committee, ask the other owners who the go-to person is. If your strata scheme is managed by a strata manager, contact them.
However, it’s very important to understand that a strata manager only acts on behalf of the committee, and will need to first seek their approval for any action that may need to be performed. If it is a major issue, it will need to be placed as an agenda item for a forthcoming meeting of the committee, before any action can be taken. Occasionally, if the issue is urgent, the committee may agree to a special meeting. If you are renting, contact the office of the real estate agent from whom you are renting, or your landlord if renting directly.
My bathroom tap is leaking. Can I charge the owners corporation for it?
Generally speaking, no. The taps are internal of the apartment and not in or relating to the benefit of more than one lot or the common property, so it is unlikely that the bathroom tap of a lot would be classified as common property. The obligation of the owners corporation extends only to repairs and maintenance of the common property; and the chattels, fixtures, fittings and services related to the common property or its enjoyment.
If you are renting, contact the office of the real estate agent from whom you are renting, or your landlord if renting directly.
Can I replace the carpet in my apartment with timber flooring without asking anyone?
Never – repeat, never – instal hard flooring in a multi-storey strata dwelling without first (a) reviewing the strata development’s by-laws to see if there are any specific rules regarding hard flooring; (b) seeking permission from the owners committee, preferably with a consultant’s report; and not least (c) ensuring adequate acoustic underlay is installed. (Ideally, more than adequate.) Many strata owners who have installed hard flooring without following these straightforward steps have found themselves saddled with the expensive burden of having to rip it out after challenges from owners committees and owners living beneath them who have suffered ‘loss of amenity’ due to noise.
What right has an owners corporation have to enter a lot owner’s property to undertake maintenance?
An owners corporation does not have a right to enter onto a lot owners property to carry out any activities without the lot owners permission. To do otherwise may constitute a trespass. Permission should therefore be sought from each lot owner.
Can the owners corporation force me to remove a shed/glasshouse from my balcony?
This is one of the powers provided to an owners corporation to assist maintain control of an owners corporation in an attempt to maintain the value of the property and enjoyment of the property for the benefit of all owners. If the shed/glasshouse is adversely affecting the outward appearance of a lot or is an occupational health and safety hazard in its position on the balcony, then the owners corporation does have the right to request its removal. In general if in doubt, simply ask the question prior to purchasing and installing anything on your balcony, it could save you unnecessary expense. Remember too, to consult your owners corporations rules which can also provide guidance in many similar situations.
The owners corporation has sent me an invoice. Do I have to pay it?
Definitely. You must pay it by the due date. You cannot object to a levy by not paying it. Penalties apply for non-payment. Read more about levies.
Do unpaid strata levies incur penalty interest?
Yes. The penalty interest rate varies between states and territories but is generally comparable to what you would be charged for non-payment of council rates. Any costs in recovering a debt are also entirely payable by the debtor. For specifics please refer to the Legislation for your state or territory. For example, in Victoria the Owners Corporations Act 2006, Section 29, allows an owners corporation to charge interest on any amount payable by a lot owner that remains outstanding after the due date for payment, up to the maximum rate of interest payable under the Penalty Interest Rates Act 1983.
Will Home and Contents insurance cover items lost or stolen on common property?
Only the home owner’s home and contents insurer can accept or deny such a claim. An owners corporation has the option to take out cover for property that belongs only to the owners corporation, i.e. not the personal possessions of each of its owners. If a claim was made against the owners corporation in such circumstances, the owners corporation would not directly be in a position to deny or accept a claim, but rather would refer the claim on to their insurers for consideration.