Owning and managing strata titled property in Western Australia
Strata title is an increasingly popular form of ownership and currently accounts for over one-third of all forms of titles registered in Western Australia. Some strata owners self-manage their property while others employ the services of professional real estate agent or strata managers.
Management rules apply to strata companies, strata councils, meetings, insurance and conducting the business of the strata company can be found in The Strata Titles Act.
This Act is administered by Landgate and they have useful publications A Guide to Strata Titles and Strata Titles Practice Manual, for anyone who lives in, owns or is a prospective owner of a unit. Includes information on:
- rights and obligation of owners, the strata company
- insurance issues
- renovations or additions to the property
- standard by-laws
If you own property in a large block it may not be possible for all owners to participate in the day-to-day management of the building. The law recognises this, and lets the owners set up a strata company, which can be run by a small council. The strata company must follow the rules and conditions in the law as well as all the by-laws in force for the strata scheme. By-laws made by strata companies have to lodged and registered with Landgate in order to have legal effect.
Larger strata schemes often employ a strata manager to help to carry out their duties. The current law does not specifically recognise strata managers or their functions and responsibilities. As they do not have a role defined by law, the quality and level of service provided by property managers will be reliant on good communication, ongoing monitoring and control by the strata company.
Strata managers generally cannot make decisions on behalf of the strata company and cannot do anything that requires a resolution of the strata company. The only powers strata managers have are those given to them by the strata company.
A number of real estate agents also provide strata management services. Where a licensed real estate agent in their role of undertaking strata management collects strata levies, they are required under the law (Real Estate and Business Agents Act 1978) to deposit the money into a trust account.
The Code of Conduct for real estate agents and sales representatives ensures a range of general duties is undertaken by real estate agents in their dealings with their clients (the strata company).
Accreditation of managers
Strata Community Australia (WA) (SCAWA), formerly the Strata Titles Institute of Western Australia, is a membership organisation for strata managers. Membership is voluntary. The organisation provides an accreditation program which requires attendance at training events and evidence of current professional indemnity insurance. Members of the SCAWA are bound by a Code of Ethics which sets out a minimum standard of behaviour. If a complaint is made against a SCAWA member, SCAWA will attempt to resolve the complaint.
If you are renting a strata property and you have an issue with your landlord you can contact Consumer Protection.
If an owner is unhappy with the strata manager, they should discuss the matter with the strata council and seek the support of all strata company members. An owner cannot take action directly against a strata manager. The proprietor’s only right of action is against the strata company.
The State Administrative Tribunal (SAT) has jurisdiction over strata title disputes between strata owners and strata companies. The SAT is able to make orders to settle disputes that arise because of the performance of (or failure to perform) a power, authority, duty or function under the Strata Titles Act (or the by-laws of a strata scheme).
Strata managers are contracted to assist strata councils to carry out their tasks and duties. The quality and level of service a strata company receives from the strata manager may really depend on the instructions and control exercised by the strata council.
There is a contractual relationship between the strata company (run by the strata council) and the strata manager they employ. The Strata Titles Act does not recognise the role of strata managers and so the SAT cannot hear applications about their conduct. If there is a breach of the agreement, this should be discussed with all owners. If after all attempts to resolve the matter has failed, legal action may be commenced.
If the strata manager employed is also a real estate agent, the strata company (run by the strata council) has the option to lodge a complaint with Consumer Protection
Current and previous reviews
Due to the increased volume of strata titled properties being registered and the accompanying increase in the amount of strata funds held by strata managers, there have been calls in recent years to review the strata management industry.
Landgate has set up a Strata Titles Act Reform team. A discussion paper is now available online and has also been distributed directly to a number of stakeholders. The team has also been engaging in stakeholder discussions which are based on this updated paper.
Previous work includes:
- Licensing of Strata Managers in Western Australia Regulatory impact assessment and discussion paper was released 2012 by the Department of Commerce. The paper sought feedback on the issue of potentially licensing strata managers.
- Public Administration Committee Report Standing Committee on Public Administration report In Relation to the Inquiry into Western Australian Strata Managers September 2011
- Economics and Industry Standing Committee Report Economics and Industry Standing Committee inquiry into the Western Australian Strata Management Industry
- Stamford Report Department of Consumer and Employment Protection Review of Proposed Licensing/Regulation of Strata Title Managers Final Report June 2007
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