The Great Strata Challenge: COVID-19

A Message from Strata Community Association

The 2019 Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic is a global crisis affecting the lives of many. High-density living has become more complex with COVID-19. There are plenty of challenges with more Australians working from home and staying indoors 24/7.

For those working or living within Strata, a highly transmissible virus poses a challenge in an industry that thrives on human interaction and connectedness.

So how can we work and communicate efficiently in the time of quarantines and social distancing?

About Strata Community Association (NSW)

SCA (NSW) is the peak representative body for the broad strata sector in NSW. Membership includes Strata Managers, support staff, committee members and suppliers of goods and services to the industry. SCA (NSW) proudly fulfils the dual roles of a professional institute and consumer advocate.

 Introduction by SCA (NSW)

“Strata are communities of people. There will be cashflow challenges, compliance issues and behavioural problems. Most of these will have no precedent, legislative solution or rule book.

We cannot forget that strata is still inflicted by past problems of defects, flammable cladding, behavioural challenges, and complex compliance obligations. These have not gone away – they are ever present reminders of the minefield that await strata communities juggling isolation and adaption to today’s problems and tomorrow’s unknowns.”

The Guide

Strata Community Association (NSW) are cutting through the confusion to help their members during the coronavirus outbreak by publishing a “Complete Guide” for strata managers, strata owners and suppliers. A download link is located at the end of this article.

Examples of Topics Covered

  • Advice for SCA (NSW) Members and Strata Managers
  • Advice for Owners and Occupiers
  • Communication and Support
  • SCA (NSW) – How We’re Responding
  • General Information
  • Common Questions and Answers
  • Helpful Resources

Common Questions and Answers

What options does a strata committee have to avoid in-person meetings?

Strata managers or committees can make alternate arrangements to vote and discuss strata issues if they do not want to attend strata meetings in person.

The options available include voting in writing, email, teleconference or via other technologies, as well as voting by proxy – however there are limits on the number of proxies that any lot owner can hold on behalf of other lot owners.

What is an ‘essential service’ in strata buildings?

The legislation does not provide a definition of what is an essential service for a strata scheme. In the current situation, any services that contribute to the safety, health of residents and maintenance of minimum living standards should be considered by the owners corporation.

What needs to be done if a person diagnosed with Covid-19 uses common property facilities such as lifts, pools, spas, gyms etc?

The strata manager has an obligation to “act in the client’s best interests” which includes communicating with residents on health guidelines as they affect closure of common areas such as pools, spas, community halls and gymnasiums.

What are some of the precautions that can be taken in my building?

It is a legislative requirement that Owners Corporations must act responsibly. It is recommended that all Committees work on the basis that there may be someone infected within the building and take any necessary precautions. Individuals are urged to take a large amount of responsibility in following government guidelines.

Are we still required to hold an annual general meeting of the strata owners corporation?

Annual General Meetings should still be held, remotely or electronically, in accordance with the Strata Schemes Management Act 2015 (the Act) although there is a call for Government intervention to avoid penalties being imposed on owners corporations for not holding their AGM in accordance with legislative requirements.

Can I still sell my property?

Yes. Sellers’ agents, buyer’s agents and the rest of the market have adapted to the new restrictions. Virtual tours of homes, private inspections and online auctions are now the norm. Sellers can still sell via private sale too, as always

Where can I download The Guide?

Please note, whist every effort has been made to ensure the information provided is up to date and correct, the rapidly changing nature of this pandemic and introduction of new initiatives and Government advices may make some information in this guide redundant.