February 17, 2021 at 6:29 pm #398697MelrosePlaceMember
Hi Amanda and the brains trust
I’m new to the Strata Committee and am a new broom sweeping clean! I’ve picked up lots of mistakes and previous posts will detail those.
My question is fairly generic and that’s to do with the “additional” fees charged by Strata Managers. I’ve gone through our accounts with a fine tooth comb and noticed that a lot of the ‘additional fees’ aren’t detailed e.g. it may say ‘additional fee – manager 30 minutes’ but nothing to say what the manager spent 30 minutes doing! Some, that are detailed, are concerning where there was a fee of almost $300 for a Strata Manager to read a Structural Engineer’s Report. Another was almost $400 to read a builder’s contract and sign on behalf of the owners. My concern is – what qualifications does a Strata Manager have to review these reports? I’d happily pay an engineer to review an engineer’s report and pay a lawyer to read a contract and sign on my behalf because both those professions require a high level of education and training. It’s a 4 year degree for an engineer and a 5 year degree for a lawyer – what gives Strata Managers the qualifications to read/review reports. I know if an engineer or a lawyer reviewed the report/contract it would cost a lot more but I’d prefer to pay for their expertise, training and knowledge than have a Strata Manager do this.
I did think maybe they do have a degree and have chosen a different career path but I can’t find any information on the profiles published on the company website. They mainly say “Licensed Strata Manager” or “Strata Manager”. I’ve looked at other Agency websites and can’t find any that actually have engineers and lawyers listed on their ‘about us’ pages. What’s your view on this? Should Engineer’s Reports and Contracts be sent to the experts for review and owners pay more for the service but have comfort knowing a professional person with qualifications did the review, or is this custom and practice by Strata Managers? What recourse would the owners have if there were flaws in the contract that weren’t picked up, or wrong information in a report. I’m curious.February 17, 2021 at 11:37 pm #398714SydneyChairMember
Short answer is this: the formal qualifications required for a strata manager’s licence do not give them any special skills to review engineering reports or contracts. Of course this doesn’t mean an individual manager doesn’t have those skills (acquired formally or informally).
The key to controlling this sort of expense is the committee being explicit about what the manager is authorised to do. They are your employee.
Have a conversation with your fellow committee members to determine what you want. Then formalise that at a committee meeting and give your manager a clear statement of what’s delegated and what you’d like to be directed to the committee for consideration. Those items can then be dealt with by the committee, given to the manager for action, or an outside expert engaged.
They may say this is “normal”. That’s not necessarily relevant to how they work with you.
Hope this helps!February 23, 2021 at 8:51 pm #398906Amanda FarmerExpert
Just adding my +1 to Sydney Chair above.
I do think most strata managers will properly read reports and contracts that come through for a building, before sending them on to the committee, so that they may be proactive in providing ‘next steps’ recommendations. I certainly like my SM to do this: she can pick up things like whether or not the contractor has a valid licence or is properly insured for the work required. Or simple typos. I don’t want to be seeing the contract until such annoyances are sorted out and I trust my strata manager to resolve them. But, as Sydney Chair points out, if you don’t want to be incurring the additional cost of such a service, tell the SM explicitly not to do it. They should follow that instruction.
Amanda.February 25, 2021 at 3:50 pm #399026MelrosePlaceMember
Thanks Amanda and Sydney Chair
Dare I say, you both probably have very good Strata Managers that instill confidence.
Thanks for your input.
Melrose PlaceFebruary 26, 2021 at 9:59 am #399048SydneyChairMember
Hi Melrose, happy to help where I can.
Actually, my building is currently self-managed. We had a very good strata manager, who worked for a small firm. The firm was taken over by a large firm and our good manager was replaced by a truly terrible manager. How bad was he? He never returned calls or replied to emails; failed to issue levy notices; sacked our excellent cleaners and replaced with someone without reference to the committee (I found out when the cleaners emailed me to say “what did we do?”); left invoices unpaid for six months. The only thing that was consistent was that their bills were always paid from our account.
I finally made contact with him by calling the CEO of the parent company to complain.
After terminating this firm (who made soothing noises, but didn’t give us a new manager or rectify the problems), we sought to re-engage our previous manager at the firm he’d moved to. However he was constrained by a termination agreement with the other firm. We ended up going self-managed, which is working fine.
With managers, there are good ones, indifferent ones and truly bad ones around. If you have a good one, they’ll appreciate clear direction and work well with you. The middle-tier ones can still be useful, but manage them closely and be clear about the things you want them to do.
If you have a bad one (which, in my book, includes anyone who says “I have delegated authority to…”), I’d urge you to move fast to get rid of them.
Hope this is useful!February 26, 2021 at 2:54 pm #399080MelrosePlaceMember
Thanks Sydney Chair
I am learning so much and going through all the records has been an eye opener! Our agent isn’t very good and they’ve made so many mistakes with basic jobs and instructions. They’ve made mistakes with normal strata functions e.g. budgets, agendas and minutes. Every time I pick up a mistake and try to clarify with them they get very defensive. My concern with them signing contracts and reviewing engineer reports is because they can’t do the basic functions of their own job. If they can’t do their own job I wonder at the expertise needed to review a contract or engineer report.
It’s fantastic that this forum is available to seek advice and I appreciate you taking the time to assist me with my questions.
Melrose PlaceFebruary 26, 2021 at 8:24 pm #399099mlahnaMember
We too have a strata manager that adds additional costs, who knows what for, engages tradesmen who charge huge amounts – charges get approved by strata committee members but obviously don’t even read what they approve, works don’t even fix the problem. Accounts are questionable – a number of versions. Again when contacted the strata manager gets defensive. Unfortunately it is a small block where the other owners just go along with this behaviour.
- You must be logged in to reply to this topic.