There’s nothing more frustrating for homeowners and tenants than when being passed from pillar to post when seeking a response to a query. To help ensure your query is directed to the right staff member, we outline the different roles of the strata manager and the property manager.
Richard Eastwood has a big job. As the Smarter Communities southern regional general manager, Eastwood’s role requires him to take responsibility for the overall management of all SC strata managers across Victoria, NSW and South Australia. Additional tasks include overseeing staffing, facilities, infrastructure, training and development.
For this reason Eastwood understands better than most how confusion can occur when it comes to clarifying the hierarchy of staff employed in strata managements has come up with the following explanation as a result.
Eastwood says there is a common misconception that a strata manager (sometimes referred to as a body corporate manager) is a property manager. These are two different roles. The strata manager is responsible for the administration of the owner’s corporation. This is the role which Smarter Communities undertakes.
Simply put, Eastwood says the key difference between a strata manager and a property manager is that the former is responsible for the administration of the relevant owner’s corporation (or scheme) and is an expert in the day-to-day management of an entire building, while the latter usually takes responsibility for a particular unit and acts as the interface between the owner and tenant.
Owing to the nature of the work, the strata manager must have a clear understanding of the applicable legislation to ensure they are able to advise the scheme of its particular responsibilities and obligations. They must also be conversant with meeting procedures in order to prepare proposed budgets for approval by members at the annual general meeting.
Day-to-day activities carried out by the strata managers include the following:
- Receive and respond to inquiries made by members or occupiers determining if the matter can be dealt with by the manager or if it requires referral to the committee;
- Approve payment of invoices, obtaining committee approval where required;
- Obtain quotations for works to be undertaken;
- Instruct contractors regarding works to be carried out;
- Striking of special levies to defray the cost of works;
- Advise committees as to matters of procedure and policy;
- Insure the owners corporation is properly funded by setting of adequate budgets and levies as required;
- Dealing with insurance claims made on the owner’s corporation’s policy
Eastwood says the main task of the owner’s corporation is the maintenance and repair of common property. It falls to the strata manager to arrange for quotations, and when accepted by the owner’s corporation, instructs the contractor.
“Some of these works may require specific documentation such as a Major Domestic Building Contract. For routine works such as caretaking, electricity window or gutter cleaning, the strata manager will authorise payment of the invoice upon receipt. For non-routine works such as replacement of a fence, the approval of the committee for payment will be sought by the strata manager.”
At times a strata manager will be required to assist in the resolution of disputes been members by bringing skills in mediation and negotiation in an attempt to find settlement without the need for recourse to court or tribunals, he says.
The role of a Property Manager is to look after individual properties on behalf of the owners. As such, Eastwood says it falls to them to collect rent, act as a liaison between owner and tenant, and conduct property checks to ensure the property remains in good condition. In this regard the property manager has a one-to-one relationship with the owner and the tenant.
Why are both roles required?
Eastwood says the main reason for having the distinction is that the property manager acts in the interest of a particular member, the owner of a lot typically an apartment whereas the strata manager acts in the common interest as determined by the committee or members in certain circumstances.
In this way there may be a clash when the interests of the parties diverge, he says.
“An example would be if an owner felt that the common property should be repainted in order to make the property more attractive to a prospective tenant whereas the owners by majority do not consider that work should be undertaken at that time. If one person undertook dual roles it would be extremely difficult for them to provide advice as there is a conflict of interest.”
Eastwood says if the property manager advances the interests of the single owner this may conflict with the desire of the majority. Conversely, if an individual owner did not want work undertaken property for any reason but the majority wishes to be carried out, the same conflict arises.
In order to avoid even apprehended conflicts arising it is preferable that a property manager not act as a strata manager and vice versa, he says.
“To my mind, such conflict cannot be resolved and the only way to avoid it is not to undertake both roles.”