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Money, Defects and Contractors: Three Common AGM Discussions

WHAT’S BEING DISCUSSED AT YOUR OWNERS CORPORATION ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING?

With the Annual General Meeting season well and truly underway here at Strata Plan, it’s been a great opportunity for our Strata Managers and their supporting staff to meet so many of our customers.

For some customers, it has been the first time they have attended an AGM, while others might be considered Owners Corporation veterans.

Unfortunately, Strata Plan is still observing an average attendance rate well under 25 per cent of owners, which means that in most properties, the decisions which affect all owners are being made by less than a majority.

Thankfully, for the most part, those that do attend AGMs are usually involved in their Owners Corporation’s committee and have a strong grasp on the issues their buildings are facing and the actions taken to date.

So, what are the three most common issues or questions that arise at Annual General Meetings?

Here are three of the most common discussions taking place at the AGMs of Owners Corporations across Melbourne.

Building Defects

Without fail, the discussions at almost every Owners Corporation Annual General Meeting will turn to the topic of building defects.

Discussions can circle for literal hours on this topic, but the reality is that no single building is going to resolve issues with building defects at an AGM alone.

This case study provides a great insight into the ongoing teamwork required by the Owners Corporation committee and Strata Manager to follow such issues up.

This is particularly true if the defects largely relate to private property and not common property.

Common property defects are a communal issue and can take a long time to resolve.

So, how can you and your fellow owners use your AGM productively to start working through this issue?

The AGM is a great place for owners to highlight issues of concern at a high level, but for meaningful action to being, your Owners Corporation should resolve to get a defects report done as soon as possible.

If the suspected defects are on the common property, the Owners Corporation can pay for an inspection and subsequential defects report by a qualified building consultant.

Check out our chat with Buildspect to learn more about getting a defects report and the difference between genuine building defects, general wear and tear and maintenance items.

If suspected building defects are in private property, each owner will need to get their own private property inspected. If there are multiple properties to be inspected, it is possible that Strata Plan can try and get a discounted rate for the inspections based on the number of units which need them.

A defects report should be VCAT or DBDRV (Domestic Building Dispute Resolution Victoria) compliant and will be an important resource to you and other owners if your end goal is to get the builder back onsite to rectify outstanding defects.

Such reports are not always cheap, but without them, you may struggle to convince anyone to come back and work on the property for nothing.

Account Queries

Naturally, the AGM is the time where most owners will review the year that was for their Owners Corporation from a financial perspective.

One of the most important motions at the meeting is where the financial statements for the previous financial year will be reviewed.

These statements are sent out as part of your meeting pack, along with your Owners Corporation agenda, and should be reviewed carefully before the meeting.

Strata Plan requests that any questions relating to the statements are submitted at least 62 hours before the meeting to ensure your Strata Manager has enough time to investigate the question and prepare their answers.

Of course, the best way to stay across your Owners Corporations income and expenditure over the course of the year is to check in on the Customer Portal.

If available to your Owners Corporation, your Customer Portal allows you to see how much money your Owners Corporation has and what it is spending money on.

For owners who wish to have a greater say on the expenditure of your Owners Corporation should nominate to become a part of the Owners Corporation committee.

This will ensure you remain involved throughout the year.

As part of the committee, you will be required to approve work orders and expenditure throughout the course of the year.

Contractor Management

Most Owners Corporations will rely on a range of contractors to perform services for residents and the common property.

The most common type of contractors Owners Corporations employs includes building caretakers, which typically perform cleaning duties and minor maintenance duties, or waste contractors, which pick up and remove common waste from the property.

It is not uncommon for the discussion at AGMs to turn to the performance of these contractors.

The most common complaints Strata Plan receives about the contractors an Owners Corporation employs typically relate to the building cleaning.

Owners are well within their rights to raise concerns about the level of service provided, but these concerns should always be raised within the context of the contractor’s scope of works.

So, if your building’s caretaker is only on site once a week for three hours, it is unlikely that the common areas of the property will be spotless around the clock, seven days a week.

Similarly, the building caretaker’s existing scope of works may not require them to clean areas like the basement or car park.

The AGM is a great place to raise such concerns, but for effective contractor management, issues with contractor performance need to brought to Strata Plan’s attention throughout the year with accompanying evidence.

Strata Plan will always be happy to pass on the feedback of owners and residents to relevant contractors, however, it can be hard to bring about meaningful change without addressing the contractor’s scope of works or providing evidence that such scope of works is not being met.

To ensure your AGM is productive in this regard, your committee could commit to a review of the contractor’s scope of works after the AGM or resolve to meet with the contractor on site to discuss and resolve issues.

Nominating to take a place on your Owners Corporation’s committee is the best way to play an active, collaborative role in this process.

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