Article written by ESM Founder and director, Jake Kneebone.
May has been a historic month for Strata Management in Western Australia. The amendments to the Strata Titles Act were officially proclaimed, and changes have been rolling out all across the state.
We have already received positive feedback from some of the more obvious changes, such as 10-year maintenance plans but I think the biggest changes, such as minimum education requirements for strata managers, technology advancements and strata dispute resolution are yet to really be appreciated.
These changes to strata have been in the works since 2002 and are a long way from the original Strata Titles Act in 1966. There were only about 12,000 strata schemes when the 1985 Act was proclaimed. Today there are over 74,000 strata schemes.
I represented the Strata Community on the Community Title Advisory Committee appointed by the Minister of Lands to review the 1985 Strata Titles Act and document proposed changes. As the only representative from the Strata Management industry in Western Australia it was a real honour and for 14 years starting from 2002 myself, along with members from Local Government, Landgate, Water Authority, the Law Society and Real Estate Institute met once per month and had rich debates over strata law. These debates helped shape the amendments to the act and strata management in the future.
One of the issues I have been most passionate about has been education. Education for owners, for occupants, for our support staff and for our front-line Strata Managers. The number of Strata Titled properties has increased by 6 times since the 1985 Act was proclaimed, where there were a small handful of dedicated, experienced strata managers. The committee was calling for more regulation of strata managers. There is still a lot of unexperienced people providing advice to strata companies out there but that will not be the case in the future.
Now it is more important than ever to ensure strata managers are knowledgeable, reputable and qualified to look after strata companies. I believe ESM Strata in the last few years has led the way with education, and I think we will see more strata management companies follow suit. Our relentless focus on education has manifested itself in a staff and customer facing knowledgebase, with over 500 articles written by the entire team so that they can support each other and better support our customers.
Strata law can often be grey and a bit confusing at times, so the knowledgebase has made it easier for everyone to get the same answer on questions and make sure advice is correct. I expect the future of strata management to be more like this, where a wider group of people can help customers at the first touch point and support the front-line strata managers to focus on more complex issues.
10-year maintenance plans are also a really big initiative that will change strata forever. Buildings with 10 lots or more will have to execute a 10-year maintenance plan and ensure they have a reserve fund set up to cover maintenance costs in the future. This is a game changer – often when purchasing a strata titled property as an owner or an investor the state of the infrastructure of a building can come at a big shock. You budget for your levies then suddenly you have to raise large sums of money to bring the property up to standard. This initiative stops surprises like this from happening. It looks at the future of the building, and the future of the strata company.
The future of strata will also involve more technology. Electronic voting, remote attendance to meetings and the way we communicate. Getting involved in your strata complex will be easier, making decisions will be easier. I can see technology really positively impacting the way we live in, and run strata properties.
Lastly, the future of Strata disputes will change. Going from 12,000 to 74,000 strata titled properties between the previous Act to now has meant there are more people with more complex issues arising within strata complexes. The State Administrative Tribunal under the new Act will be a one stop shop now for disputes, eliminating long and complex processes following by-law breaches and other issues. This resolves issues quickly and swiftly.
Being in the centre of these changes has put ESM in the position of being at the forefront of strata management in Western Australia especially when it came to the changes in the Act.
I am fortunate to be able to watch these changes come to life and proud of the way the ESM team has implemented them into their daily support of our clients.
We will continue to run education evenings on these changes for our clients and invite you to reach out to your strata manager to secure your spot to the next one. I will be there and can answer any questions you may have.