The following is an extract from our letter of welcome to all new lot owners. You may care to refer to this letter from time to time for a broad overview of our role as strata manager and your obligations as a lot owner.
Welcome to you as a new owner.
We take this opportunity to welcome you as a new owner and it may be helpful for you to know a little about us and the services we perform on behalf of all lot owners in conjunction with the executive committee of your owners corporation.
Please take time to read the contents of this letter as we sincerely wish to assist in avoiding any inconvenience or adverse impact upon you in relation to your ownership of a strata title lot.
One of the major differences between owning a house and owning a unit (known as a "lot") in a strata scheme is that the external walls, the floor and roof do not usually belong to the lot owner. These areas are usually common property and the maintenance and repairs of these parts of the building is usually the responsibility of the owners corporation. As it is common property, the lot owner is not able, without permission of the owners corporation, to alter, renovate or damage these areas. In effect, in most strata schemes, the lot owner owns the inside of the unit but not the main structure of the building. While it is sometimes a hard concept to envisage, a lot owner effectively owns the airspace [and anything included in the airspace] inside the boundary walls, floor and ceiling of the lot.
Harvie Strata Management, the Managing Agent for your owners corporation, was established in 1974 and we specialise in providing a highly professional management service to various owners corporations throughout Sydney. Below we list some information which we feel will be of assistance with regard to owning and occupying a strata title property.
The strata plan of your building is managed by our company acting in our role as your owners corporation’s duly appointed strata managing agent. This means that all items outside your lot are maintained, repaired, replaced or renewed by the owners corporation (the name given to the group comprising all the owners that own the units in your building).
As a lot owner you are required to:
INSURE the contents of your unit, particularly carpets, blinds, curtains, paint, wallpaper, light fittings, dishwasher, dryer, public risk and all items installed by you which are not covered by any of the owners corporation insurance policies. The other items on the premises are insured (but not maintained) by the owners corporation.
MAINTAIN everything inside your unit except for the floor of your shower recess, the ceiling above the paint, the floor below your floor coverings and doors, pipes, windows and glass within the walls that form the boundaries of your unit.
NOT CHANGE the appearance or install any structure that is visible from outside your unit without written approval. i.e. you cannot install bars on the windows, signs or air-conditioner units without the approval of the owners corporation. (By-laws 5 & 17)
NOT ALTER OR DAMAGE or deface any structure that forms part of the common property without the approval in writing of the owners corporation. (By-law 5)
NOT CARRY OUT A STRUCTURAL ALTERATION without firstly providing a written notice describing the proposed alteration. Under the Strata Schemes Management Act 1996, Sec 116 (2), the owner of a lot must not alter the structure of the lot without giving to the owners corporation, not later than 14 days before commencement of the alteration, a written notice describing the proposed alteration.
If you seek permission to carry out any structural work, you must firstly produce to the managing agent or the Executive Committee a structural engineer’s report confirming there will be no damage to common property or other units. You must also obtain the written approval of the owners corporation and comply with any conditions imposed prior to commencement of the proposed works.
PREVENT NOISE transmission from the floor space of your unit by covering or otherwise treating the floor space to an extent sufficient to prevent the transmission from the floor space of noise likely to disturb the peaceful enjoyment of the owner or occupier of another lot. (By-law 14)
PAY LEVIES, which fall due each quarter. These are payable towards external maintenance, insurance, external power, water consumption, taxation, accounting, postage, building improvements and our fees. Levy notices will be mailed to you approximately two (2) weeks before the due date for payment. Please note that levies can only be paid in accordance with the instructions printed on the levy notice and cannot be paid at our office. Receipts for levies paid are noted on the next levy notice. Queries regarding your account should be directed to our accounts department. It is your responsibility to notify our office, in writing, if for any reason you do not receive a levy notice within 3 months of the date of this correspondence and regular levy notices quarterly thereafter. Kindly refer to Macquarie Bank enclosures for your payment options. Should an owners corporation require additional funds for any purpose, it may raise an additional levy at a general meeting and the same payment conditions apply to such additional levies as for regular quarterly contributions.
PAY INTEREST on overdue levies. Please note that contributions are due on the first day of the quarter and a contribution, if not paid at the end of one month after it becomes due and payable, bears until paid simple interest at an annual rate of 10%; this penalty interest rate is applied in accordance with the Strata Schemes Management Act 1996 and the Managing Agent has no power to reduce or waive it. Failure to notify our office of non-receipt of levy notices is not accepted as a valid excuse for non-payment of regular quarterly levy contributions. We recommend you diary ahead to expect a regular quarterly levy notice every 3 months. Should you fail to receive a regular quarterly contribution levy notice by the due date, you must contact our accounts department in order that one of our staff may reconfirm your current mailing address and issue you with a replacement levy notice immediately. In this way you will avoid any late payments incurring interest and your owners corporation’s other costs associated with recovery of unpaid levy contributions. It is extremely important that you understand your levy contributions must be paid promptly in order to avoid additional costs. Furthermore, payments must be received at least 3 working days prior to the end of the month in which the payment falls due to ensure interest is not charged to your lot account.
PAY LEGAL FEES AND EXPENSES incurred by the owners corporation in recovering your regular quarterly levy contributions and any additional levy contributions that remain unpaid at the end of one month after becoming due and payable.
REPORT DAMAGE to us immediately such as water leaks through walls and ceilings, breakage of fixed glass and damage to common property so we may minimise any further damage and arrange to have repairs carried out promptly.
GIVE NOTICE OF LEASES OR SUBLEASES in accordance with Section 119 of the Strata Schemes Management Act 1996, which requires all owners who lease their units to give a written notice to the owners corporation stating;
The notice must be given within 14 days after the lease commences. In this section, lease includes any sublease. If you need a form to give notice under Section 119 please let us know and please note the Act provides a financial penalty for non-compliance.
GIVE WRITTEN NOTICE OF CHANGE OF ADDRESS for service of notices in accordance with Section 118 of the Strata Schemes Management Act 1996 which also provides that an Australian address must be provided for service of notices.
COMPLY WITH THE BY-LAWS currently in force. We enclose for your information a copy of the standard by-laws. Please note that some strata schemes may have amended the standard by-laws and/or created additional special by-laws. If you require a copy of any amended by-laws or additional special by-laws applying to your strata scheme please contact our office and we shall provide such information for an additional fee as prescribed by the Strata Schemes Management Act 1996.
Furthermore, please kindly note the following:
CHANGE OF ADDRESS If your address on this notice is incorrect you should immediately notify our office in writing, as it is the address that has been sent to us by your solicitor. We cannot legally change your address for service of notices unless you notify us in writing of any such change.
QUARTERLY LEVY NOTICES Within the next three months a levy notice will be sent to you for your first installment of quarterly levies.
CONTACT NUMBERS We strongly recommend you provide us with, in writing on the enclosed form, your home, mobile and work telephone numbers in order that we may contact you in the case of any emergency involving your lot. Be aware, if we are unable to contact you urgently, you may be exposed to unnecessary financial loss from delays suffered as a result of not providing us with your contact numbers.
STRATA MANAGER The manager responsible for the administration of your strata scheme may be contacted on Ph: (02) 9211 3700 during business hours whilst an answering machine accepts messages out of business hours. Our office hours are 9 am - 5 pm weekdays except for public holidays. We close for lunch daily between 1.00pm and 2.00pm during which time our answering machine is always in operation.
RESTRICTED SECURITY KEYS/CARDS Many strata schemes have restricted security key access control systems and extra keys/cards are available from our office upon meeting identification requirements and payment of a cash security deposit. Call our support staff for further information regarding your building security key/card access control system.
COMPLAINTS Any complaints regarding the strata scheme should be made in writing to the Secretary of the Owners Corporation care of our office. Once received, your complaint will either be attended to forthwith or tabled at the next meeting. In the case of an emergency, please contact us immediately; you need not put your complaint in writing in this instance.
CORRESPONDENCE and notices to the owners corporation should be forwarded to our office at Suite G1, 88 Foveaux Street, SURRY HILLS NSW 2010.
BOOKS AND RECORDS of the strata scheme may be inspected by you or any other person authorized by you. You must arrange an appointment to do so at our office and, upon your payment of the prescribed fee, such books and records will be made available.
INTERNET WEB SITE INFORMATION is provided at www.harviestrata.com.au including Internet levy payment facilities. Our general email address is email@example.com
CONSUMER PROTECTION is important to us and helps make NSW a fairer place in which to do business. As responsible business professionals we have long recognized that fair trading is good business and have been involved in advancing consumer protection principles namely:
The protection of consumers and the maintenance of fair trading in the marketplace underpins all dealings with our client owners corporations.
THE STRATA SCHEMES MANAGEMENT ACT, 1996 is a lengthy piece of legislation containing no fewer than 248 sections and 4 schedules and the Strata Schemes Management Regulation, 2005 consists of a further 31 sections and 8 schedules, thus by abbreviating them into these pages, this information cannot be 100% correct for all buildings. You may like to view the relevant legislation at www.austlii.edu.au and we suggest that you obtain a free copy of the Strata Living booklet from the Department of Fair Trading - Strata Titles Information, who provide free brochures and telephone assistance on 9229 6122 or www.fairtrading.nsw.gov.au
We look forward to a long and happy association with you and enclose, both for your information and in compliance with the strata legislation, a copy of the minutes of the last General Meeting held for your strata scheme.
From The Management & Staff
HARVIE STRATA MANAGEMENT PTY LTD