Your Questions. Making sense of strata
Frequently asked questions
I want to park in a section of the driveway that’s common property. Can I get permission to do this?
Send a written request to the secretary or strata managing agent. Permission should then be voted on at a general or strata committee meeting.
Can I do my own repairs to common property?
Only if you have the permission of the owners corporation. If common property needs repair or maintenance, the owners corporation should undertake that work, not an individual owner.
What if I do not want to be part of the Owners Corporation. Can I manage my unit myself?
All owners are always members of the owners corporation. They have voting rights and obligations to pay levies and comply with by-laws. Owners cannot ‘resign’ from the owners corporation.
However you are free to manage your unit as you see fit. You can enter into a contract with a managing agent or caretaker to manage your unit, if you wish.
I want to get a dog. Do I need the Owners Corporation’s permission?
Check your by-laws first. Some schemes allow pets with the permission of the owners corporation – the strata committee can give this approval. Other schemes do not allow pets at all. If your by-law allows for pets then make a written request to the owners corporation and include any information to support your request, for example, information on the type of dog, how you will look after it and so on.
I am an owner – what meetings do I have to go to?
While it is not compulsory for any lot owner to attend owners corporation meetings, a strata scheme operates better if those concerned take an interest in its affairs. There would usually be several meetings of the owners corporation a year, however the annual meeting, when levies are set for the coming year and the strata committee is elected, is the only meeting required to be held by law. It is helpful if people are willing to make themselves available for election to the strata committee.
How many meetings should we have a year?
Each year the owners corporation must have one annual general meeting and also one strata committee meeting to appoint office bearers. Other meetings can be held as the need arises.
Are there any circumstances when I cannot ask someone to act as a proxy for me?
A proxy is where you authorise someone else to vote on your behalf when you are unable or choose not to attend a meeting. You will not be able to use a proxy if your name is not on the strata roll or if your levies are not paid in full.
Additionally, there is a limit on the number of proxies that may be held per person being no more than 5% of the number of lots. For example, in a building of 15 units, a person can only hold 1, a building of 25 units can only hold 1, a building of 45 units can hold 2, etc. The proxy forms allow for a substitute proxy if your preferred proxy has already reached the limit they may hold.
Does the chairperson have the deciding (casting) vote at any meetings?
No, there are no deciding votes at general meetings (includes AGM) or strata committee meetings.
How do I get elected to the strata committee?
The strata committee members are elected at the AGM. Your nomination must be submitted before or during the AGM. Any owner can nominate themselves. Owners can also nominate a non–owner as long as they do not nominate themselves as well. Co–owners may be nominated by another co–owner of their lot who is not standing for election, or by an owner of another lot.
Note: Anyone nominated for election to the strata committee must disclose any financial, business or family connections they may have with the original owner or caretaker. After being elected, committee members must also disclose any financial, business or family connections they may develop with the original owner or caretaker.
Where does the money for repairs and maintenance of common property come from?
Levies must be raised to do repairs. A motion is put to a general meeting to raise levies to cover the cost of the work. The amount that needs to be paid by each owner is based on their unit entitlement.
The Owners Corporation keeps putting up the levies. What can I do?
Levies are decided at general meetings and must be discussed and accepted by a vote of the owners. You can vote against the increase or put up a motion for a different levy amount if you wish. A managing agent may put a motion for an increase in levies on the meeting agenda but cannot impose levies.
Levies are normally only increased if there is a need to do new works or there are additional expenses. Ask why the increase is being made if you are not sure.
If you are concerned about rising costs you could try to negotiate paying in instalments. If you think the levies are really too high, you can lodge an application for mediation with Fair Trading to try to resolve the matter.
How much influence do we have over the managing agent?
The managing agent is the employee of the owners corporation. They can offer advice and direction, but final authority lies with the owners corporation.
An Annual General Meeting held by the Owners Corporation.
An obsolete term for Owners Corporation.
Body Corporate Managers
An obsolete term for strata managers.
A set of ‘rules’ that the owners and occupants in a strata scheme must follow. These can be changed at a general meeting of the strata scheme. All by-laws are not the same so you should obtain a copy of the current by-laws for your strata scheme.
Capital Works Fund
Levies paid into this fund cover the costs of future capital expenses, such as painting the building, and replacing common property items like stairwell carpeting and roofing.
Common property refers to the areas of a strata building or community which every occupier or owner shares, including foyers, driveways, fences, visitors parking and gardens. The common property is the responsibility of the strata company whose obligations include maintaining and repairing the common areas.
Levies are contributions paid by owners to the strata company to cover the proposed expenditure of the strata scheme. Levies are usually paid quarterly and are based on lot entitlement.
A portion of a property that can be separately owned and sold. In a strata scheme, a lot is generally an apartment or townhouse.