Problems in My Strata Living

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  • #219962
    Persistence
    Member

    Hi Amanda

    I lived in NSW, in a 38 townhouses strata scheme. I became an owner in my strata scheme since October 2018 and became a committee this year 2020.

    Since I became a committee. I have a lot of frustrating situations in my strata especially with the Strata Manager and the Chairperson. They work very closely and not disclosing matters to the other committees. The chairperson has numerous times obstructed me from directly asking questions to the Strata Manager which makes me suspicious what are they hiding from the owners.

    The most frustrating part is the Chairperson has been the office bearer for a long time and think he has the ultimate decision to decide on who can talk to the strata manager and how the strata should be managed. To make things worst, the committees are dormant and is ok with the Chairperson’s conduct in making the decision without a majority approval from the committees. So I felt very alone and have come to an end point of don’t know what to do with all the unjust going on.

    So I give it a go to post a forum here, as advised by you, and hope Amanda you can shed some lights here and let me know there is still hope bringing honesty back to my strata living.

    To give you some details what are the frustration that I encountered are:

    (1)Strata Manager not providing me information as I requested. In fact, he told the Chairperson to inform me that my enquiries to him is harassment and will not furnish me any information and told me to cease communication with him. I received such email from the Chairperson twice, and the second time he CC all the committees. I did speak to Goldsmiths Lawyers who won the defamation strata case in Raynor v Murray to see whether do I have a defamation case here. But they refused to take my case because there is no malice.  I also filed a complain to Fairtrading, but did not go anywhere because there is no issues with money involved. Their advise is I can make appointment to his office to see the documents without any charge because I am a committee. I did follow up with the Strata Manager but he said I have to pay a fee to inspect in his office. I haven’t got a chance to respond to him as his has closed his office for physical visit due to COVID-19. The whole point is I felt unjust that the chairperson accused me that I harass the Strata Manager for asking documents in relation to the strata. It is not that I didn’t pay my levy that includes the strata manager fees or ask the documents impolitely or contain any threatening message. Unfortunately, Fairtrading don’t treat this as a consumer case. And my pursue for a defamation case was not successful.

    (2) Strata Manager not disclosing honestly regarding insurance commission.

    The strata manager did not disclose insurance commission he received in 2019 in the 2019 AGM. For 2020 insurance commission, he disclosed in his agency agreement  $1600 but the proposal from the insurance broker is $2890.16 if insured with the same insurer. The difference is massive which does not make sense because the insurance premium has only increased by 12%. I did ask him is he going to refund the difference and why 2019 insurance commission was not disclosed in the AGM via email. After that, the Chairperson emailed me that he has advised the strata manager not to address such impertinent question. Told me that if I have questions involving the strata manager, please address to office bearers and he will make enquiries civilly on my behalf. I fell that the Chairperson is very disrespectful especially at this point in time when money has become a pertinent matter to people whose income are in jeopardy due to COVID-19. After that, the strata manager did reply, saying the commission in his agreement is an estimate and will change a bunch of variables such as the premium and terms with the insurer. The commission is to keep his fees lower. He also stressed that if the commission are not paid to the strata manager, the management fees will be adjusted accordingly as per his agreement. He said he has declared in many occassions in the AGM, agency agreement and within the insurance policy renewal.

    All his explanation does not explain why such a massive increase in 2020 commission and non-disclosure for 2019 commission. This is because he did receive commission for 2019 and it should not be far of the mark for 2020 commission.

    I know that the OC can file a tribunal to get a refund. Unfortunately, the other committees are quiet about this matter and seems to be fine not getting the refund. So to take matters on my own hands, I did file a complain to Fairtrading of him misrepresenting the insurance commission for 2019 and 2020, and request an order for a refund. However, I don’t have confident that Fairtrading will do anything to my case which I have experienced the first time.

    (3) Strata Manager made unauthorised payments.

    I discovered the Strata Manager has made payments to an owner and the Chairperson without getting majority approval from the committees. I did file a complain to Fairtrading this week about the unauthorised payments and not sure whether will I succeed.

    I am also aware that the Strata Manager received instruction from the Chairperson only to proceed with works that no committees are aware of in many occasions. One occasion was the Chairperson distributed a new 10 years Capital Works Plan that was not discussed and approved to get it via the committee meetings. I still have not seen the transaction in any of the financial report about the new 10 years Capital Works Plan and I don’t think is free. The new 10 years Capital Works Plan is not what I wanted because it is not a plan to raise capital fund to address any structural issues that the common property may have. I was not happy that the Chairperson go ahead with ordering the plan without discussing with the committees what do we want out of this plan.

    In Summary, there are 3 main issues with my strata:

    (1)  The Strata Manager is not transparent on his conduct, especially with money. And also work closely with the Chairperson without disclosing matters with all of the committees. Every time I ask him questions, he became very sensitive and get the chairperson to tell me off impolitely.

    (2) The chairperson has been the chairperson for many years and he thinks he is the boss around here.

    (3) The committees are dormant and not supportive on re-electing the chairperson because they don’t want the burden of managing this strata.

    All I can do is acting alone to fight back against the strata manager and the chairperson which sometimes I don’t know what to do when Fairtrading is not helping.

    Tell me what I can do here that is effective to deal with the Strata Manager and the Chairperson myself without the committees.

    Regards

    Persistence

    #228007
    Amanda Farmer
    Expert

    Hi Persistence,

    This is a MEGA post for this Forum – and I confess I have not been able to read and digest it all.

    Have we had a member call yet? Would you like to book one in and we can set aside an hour to work through all this together?

    Member calls are booked here: http://www.meetme.so/stratapodcast

    Let me know your thoughts on this option.

    Amanda.

    #229348
    Persistence
    Member

    Hi Amanda

    The next appointment call is July. That is too far.

    Regards

    Persistence

    #229442
    Amanda Farmer
    Expert

    Hi Persistence, sorry to hear that. The slots for member calls do fill up fast.

    Amanda.

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