The owners’ corporation or body corporate is the body made up of all the owners in a strata scheme. It has the responsibility for:
- maintaining and repairing common property of the strata scheme
- managing finances of the strata scheme, including setting and collecting levies.
A Strata Title Search, or a Strata Plan Search can be described as a thorough investigation of the records including minutes of meetings and the financial records of a particular Strata Scheme. It is also known as an Owners Corporation Records Inspection.
The owners corporation is responsible for maintenance, repair and overall management of the common property. This includes:
- financial management
- record keeping
- repairs and maintenance of common property
- employment of a strata managing agent and/or a building manager (if they choose to do so)
- keeping up to date with, and adhering to, all applicable laws. This includes planning; building; fire and safety inspections and work, health and safety laws.
The owners corporation must prepare and keep a strata roll. It should include:
- the owner’s name and address/email for service of notices
- the owner’s agent and the agent’s Australian address/email for service of notices
- the strata plan number and the address of the building
- the name of the original owner and an Australian address for notices
- the name of the managing agent (if there is one) and an Australian address for notices
- the total unit entitlements for the scheme and each lot
- insurance details
- the by-laws for the strata scheme.
- Details of any tenants (name and address/email) for service of notices.
Owners are charged a fee that pays for maintenance and repairs. These contributions are worked out in proportion to the unit entitlements of each lot.
The funds are kept in an administrative fund for day-to-day expenses and a capital works fund for major works, maintenance or repairs.
The owners corporation must keep the following information for at least 7 years:
- details of motions passed,
- copies of all correspondence received and sent, and
- notices of owners corporation and strata committee meetings.
Also, proxies given to the owners corporation must be kept for at least seven years after the proxy expires.
Accounting records and financial statements also need to be kept for at least 7 years. These include:
- receipts consecutively numbered
- a statement of deposits and withdrawals for the account of the owners corporation
- a cash book and a levy register.
The owners corporation must prepare financial statements for the period beginning on the date the strata plan was registered and ending no earlier than two months before the first Annual General Meeting (AGM); for each period beginning on the date the last statement was prepared and ending no earlier than two months before the next AGM.
An owner or mortgagee, or their authorised person, can make a written request to the owners corporation to inspect the records. The request must be accompanied by the prescribed fee which is currently $31 for the first hour of work.
The inspection time and place has to be agreed by both parties. If no agreement is reached within three days, the owners corporation can stipulate the time and date by written notice. The inspection date can be no later than 10 days from the date the owners corporation receives the notification.
Documents can be inspected in person, electronic access or any other ways agreed. You can make copies of the documents but must not, without the consent of the owners corporation, remove the originals from the custody of the owners corporation.
Annual budgets must list amounts expected to be spent on specific items. At least two quotes must be obtained by the owners corporation for items over $30,000. Proxy votes for a owners corporation meeting must be provided to the secretary at least 24 hours before the meeting. Personal notice of all upcoming strata committee meetings and the minutes of these meetings must be provided to lot owners upon request (notice cannot be given via noticeboards).
A large strata scheme cannot spend more than 10 percent above the budgeted amount for any item unless restriction removed or for emergency purposes. This restriction can be removed by a resolution at a general meeting, and does not apply to expenditure for emergency purposes, including (but not limited to) the following;
- burst or blocked water or sewerage pipes,
- serious damage caused by fire or storm or any other natural disaster,
- unexpected electrical or security system failure,
- glass breakages that affect the security of any building in the strata scheme or could result in damage to the inside of any such building
There are special provisions that apply to owners in a two-lot scheme:
- accounts and finance statements are not required to be audited
- owners can obtain their own building insurance for their lot, and be exempt from having a capital works fund if:
- the building in each lot are physically detached;
- no building or part of a building is situated outside the lots; and
- the owners pass a unanimous resolution for the owners corporation not to have building insurance for both buildings and/or not to have a sinking fund.
- a quorum in a two-lot scheme with two owners is always two people entitled to vote.
- the strata committee is made up of an owner, from each lot.
The building must have damage policy and public liability insurance with an approved insurer. The owners corporation must also have workers compensation insurance when needed.
The owners corporation must make sure that access to all areas of the strata scheme is available for fire safety inspections.
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