This month we asked our Strata Managers what their most frequently asked questions of the year were – and the answers were surprising! Over the last 5 years, ESM Strata has prioritised educating our stakeholders and customers to ensure they are empowered with as much knowledge about their strata property as possible. This has meant over time, the most frequently asked questions have evolved and changed as we have taken the opportunities to create education for customers in various environments such as:
- Annual General Meetings
- Council of owners nights
- Email newsletters, and of course
- The ESM Strata Knowledgebase
For 2023 the top list of frequently asked questions features some of our top questions of all time, but also some new ones that we have been delighted to answer below. Let us know if you have any more that you would like us to address! firstname.lastname@example.org
Our top Strata Management questions of 2023
- What/Who is the Council of Owners?
- What are we paying for?
- Is “X issue” strata or owner responsibility?
- How does unit entitlement work?
- What is it that we pay ESM Strata to do?
- When will my leak get fixed?
- What are the boundaries of my Lot
What/Who is the Council of Owners?
This question is asked a lot, especially by new owners who have never heard the words, ‘Council of the Strata Company’ before. The name itself has also evolved in the last number of years since the Amended Strata Titles act came into effect evolving ‘Council of Owners (COO)’ to ‘Council of the Strata company’.
Our Answer: The Council of the Strata Company (previously known as the Council of Owners) is a group of owners that are elected to represent the Strata Company in matters of the strata. If you are an owner in a Strata Company, you can put your hand up to be a member of the council too! Read more about a council’s responsibilities here and what it takes to have an effective council.
What are we paying for?
Also a very common question that comes up, especially when quarterly levies are due, is “What are we paying for?”. Strata Levies, although issued in one payment request, cover a whole variety of items required to ensure the smooth operating of the entire strata complex and form part of the operating budget of the Strata Company for the year.
Our Answer: As the owner of a strata-titled property, you are required to pay strata levies or strata fees each quarter. These pooled funds cover the cost of general building insurance, maintenance and repairs, plus cleaning of the common areas. Every building is different and every owner has a unit of entitlement that dictates what percentage of the total building expenses it pays for.
Is “X issue” strata or owner responsibility?
When maintenance issues arise, a common question we get is whether the repairs of this are the responsibility of the lot owner or of the strata company. The answer to the question can be complex, especially when considering the root of the cause, the extent of any damage and the location of the required maintenance. Usually the Strata Manager will identify the answers to these questions and evaluate the lot boundaries and the strata plan to determine how best to answer the question. It isn’t always a black and white answer!
How does unit entitlement work?
Unit entitlement questions usually come up during levy collection as owners often contribute different amounts based on their unit of entitlement.
Our Answer: Unit Entitlement is the equitable distribution of rights and duties among individual strata owners. Put simply, it quantifies your ownership stake. Grasping this concept is crucial, as it has a direct bearing on several important aspects of your strata living experience. You can read more about unit entitlement here.
What does ESM Strata do?
A question we are asked a lot is the involvement of ESM Strata as a Strata Management company in the smooth running of a Strata complex. ESM Strata supports councils with a wide variety of tasks as outlined in your contract, and does a lot of work behind the scenes to ensure you are complying with the Strata Titles Act.
Our Answer: ESM Strata are a Strata Management Company that assists your Council of the Strata Company, to help ensure the building and common areas of the strata title are maintained and kept in good condition for the benefit of all owners. The specific work they do can be found in your Strata Management contract but some of the general things can be found here: What does a Strata Manager Do. Strata Managers are different to building or property managers.
When will my leak get fixed?
This question is common in winter time, but extends to other kinds of repair or maintenance work so the general query is one we tackle a lot. The answer is unique to each circumstance but the important thing to consider with maintenance or repair issues such as leaks is the complexity of the process involved.
Firstly, if you are not the owner of the property (eg if you are a tenant) we need to get in touch with the owner of the property. Depending on where the leak is and what caused it, it needs to be determined whether it is common property or lot property. From here, we have to contact the council of the Strata company and ask them how they would like to proceed with arranging for an inspection of the leak. After we hear instructions back from the council members, we then reach out to relevant and approved contractors to arrange a time for an inspection or repair. Often we will need to gather 3 quotes for the council to approve. We then arrange the time with the occupant so that someone can come out and do the work.
So depending on where we are in the process above, the answer to that question is not always that simple!
What are the boundaries of my lot?
Lot boundaries are a very common question when it comes to Strata Companies because this will vary across building types and building by laws. Your lot boundaries will be specified in your Strata Plan and depending on your type of strata title, may be very detailed or more broad. Lot boundaries are really important to know if you are ever renovating your property which is where we are often asked this question.