Monthly Archives: September 2013

Understanding the Province of the OC

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Strata apartment owners who are not on a committee, and even some who are, have no hope of understanding what the province of an owners corporation is and what is not. They just want the problem to go away.

If it’s shoddy workmanship by the developer on their internal finishes, you can understand why they would come to a thing called the owners corporation to discuss the problem. ‘We are all owners, aren’t we? We probably have the same issues. Let’s face this together’.

Compelling logic though this may be, the owners corporation can only deal with common property. That’s the law. That’s their focus and if the owners corporation gets involved in matters outside its focus, and creates an expectation that it will handle the problem and fails, as it inevitably must to deliver the solution, the troops will be very unhappy.

Of Working Bees and Drones

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When you live in a strata community some time sooner or later, someone will suggest a working bee. This is a terrific way to ruin both a garden and a community.

Those attracted to a gardening bee will be terrorists who like using sharp objects to prune plants within an inch of their lives and will have no regard to the time of year for these near executions. In the blazing summer sun the attacks will take place.

Those who organise the event will be bitterly disappointed that the turnout is so poor. This will make them angry and in an episode of negative thinking so often the habit of leaders, they will interpret this as a lack of community sprit and pride and wish a pox on the houses of the non-participants. The more likely scenario is that the non-attendees don’t care for gardening and would rather pay for the service to be done by professionals but think if others get joy from the exercise, then each to their own. Bad-will has been generated from good intentions.

You Say Potato I Say Potata

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An ‘owners corporation management and leadership team’, as we would call it if we were to adopt the weasel words of modern politically correct corporate speak, is an ‘executive committee’ in the fast paced corporate world of New South Wales, a ‘management committee’ in the more gentile state of South Australia, and a ‘committee of management’ in the much more verbose Tasmania – why use two words when three would do – and simply ‘committee’ elsewhere except for Western Australia.

Those in the west of our country use ‘council’. The term ‘council’ is the uppity cousin of ‘committee’ which uncharacteristic for our friends from the west. The term ‘council’ lends itself far too easily to the royal we; ‘we are the council, council has determined, council approves, council disapproves, council controls your life’ – so when you don’t get your way, get angry with council. This is not what we want. We want inclusiveness. We want a sense of belonging. We want a feeling of control over our own place – a say in how our home is managed. The term ‘committee’ is more down to earth than ‘council’ and a better use of understandable language to describe the workhorse of our strata communities.

People get committees. We know what a committee does. They do the work. Almost all of us have been on one and, most of us then spend the rest of our days trying to avoid them. Love them or hate them, we understand committees.

Repair and Maintain Now

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The owners corporation must repair and maintain common property are the simple words used to impose this liability.

The courts have consistently interpreted these words to mean what they say – just do it – not when you get around to it – not when you can afford it – not when you are planning to do a major renovation – just do it and do it now!

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