Strata common sense blue-line needed

From my work as a body corporate manager and more recently CEO of the Queensland Body Corporate Association, I continue to be flabbergasted at the failings of strata managers to guide Committees on processes of legislation and what is fair and reasonable.

I have no problem stating the obvious that disputes create a very sizable additional income for strata management firms, and admit I have been part of that failing in the past.

Too often we are seeing strata cases where the end result was always going to be huge legal costs to the strata and to owner/s when case law and common sense fell by the wayside.

Don’t get me wrong, there are many very good strata managers. Honestly from my experience they appear to be more of the middle to upper ground managers, not the “I’ve been in this industry so long that…” or the under qualified recently employed Property Manager being paid $18 per hour to manage millions of dollars of assets
I have seen the Bay-of-Pigs fiasco spoken about by J.F. Kennedy so many times in strata it is unbelievable. This is where collectively a committee will make a decision and stand by it come hell or high water; individually committee members know in their heart the decision is wrong but will not raise their head above the parapet.

Strata managers from what I have witnessed, can be too close to the action or simply washed-out by endless disputes to take those mitigating actions, preventing what can be a conflict of identities from turning into a Supreme Court case on what is “reasonable”.

In my qualified opinion I believe when a dispute appears, strata managers need to have a blue-line flowchart process-

• Recommending that a third-party opinion be sought
• Presenting to the committee case law on similar matters
• Be made a second respondent to cases for costs when disputes escalate

Why the third bullet-point? There needs to be a stronger accountability for mismanagement by strata firms, they have a higher knowledge of the act, regulations and by-laws and are the professional committee member.

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