The compliance police are coming and the sooner the better

The compliance police are yet to find strata management. In other fields of business and endeavour – public companies, funds management, financial planning – the compliance police have been active for decades. Sooner or later they are going to stumble across the strata world, and they are not going to like what they find.

Compliance police are a bit like the police sergeant in a small country town in the sixties. They don’t like issuing tickets but they do like you to know that they can. They prefer instead to change the way people think about breaking the law. The country-based police sergeant of yesteryear thought this approach made good sense because he had to live in the community he policed. Compliance police think the same. They work in the companies they police and it’s in their interest to get people with the program rather than to alienate the whole workforce by prosecuting the favorite corporate son or daughter.

In strata management, we don’t have any compliance police despite having a raft of laws with which to comply. My research team last week completed an exercise for me and complied a list of 88 pieces of state and federal legislation regularly applying to owners corporations in New South Wales. The numbers will be the same in other civilized places. That’s a lot of law for a place with no Sheriff.

The strata manger is as close as we come to having compliance police but their situation is compromised. They act as advisors on compliance, sometimes, but they are not qualified to do so and, moreover, are not empowered by anyone to do anything if compliance is observed only in the breach. It’s wrong to blame them for the lack of compliance in strata.

Ultimately changing community standards will drive the appointment of compliance police to strata organizations. Just as we changed our attitude as a community to blatant breaches of drink driving laws, police and official corruption and pedophilia in schools and youth groups, we will change our attitude to the non-compliance with laws purportedly governing our strata communities.

If workplace health and safety laws, compulsory savings for necessary repairs and replacements, sustainability and environment standards and human rights are really important to us as I suspect they are, then sooner or latter the compliance police will find strata. And like the wise old country police officer, the world will be a better place for their presence.

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