Sometimes, taking on the role of Owners Corporation chairperson can feel like a thankless task.
Yet without those few who generously contribute their time and ideas to the cause, their properties and shared spaces would fail to functions.
As one of the largest Owners Corporation managers in Melbourne, Strata Plan sees first-hand the time and effort so many chairpeople and their committees put into their Owners Corporations.
A volunteer role heaped with plenty of responsibility, Owners Corporation chairpersons often have to contend with a wide range of stakeholders, from fellow committee members, owners, occupants, trades, builders and even developers.
They need to work with all stakeholders and their committee to find a middle ground.
This means that no two buildings and their Owners Corporations are ever the same. Whether a high-rise building with 400 apartments or a smaller development of 10 townhouses, the smooth operation of an Owners Corporation comes down to the people involved and their willingness to work with one another and all relevant stakeholders to drive great outcomes for their properties and fellow owners.
It’s a delicate balancing act, and it is not always an easy one.
Every chairperson will have their own way of doing things and their own view on how things should be done and Strata Plan believes it is our duty to spread this shared knowledge across our Owners Corporation network.
As such, Strata Plan will be speaking to various Owners Corporation chairpersons, committee members and owners across our network to share their stories and their approach to making a difference within their communities.
First up, we spoke to chairperson Mario Gomizelj, who chairs a committee for a 400 lot development in Melbourne’s south-east.
Mr. Gomizelj was the first owner to move into the property and decades of experience in the construction industry, as well as some limited Owners Corporation experience, he brought a unique perspective and understanding of the role to his Owners Corporation.
“I work in the construction industry and it’s a service industry. A lot of it is common sense, and when it comes to OH&S, where you’ve got to look at areas that have to be safe, we work for a lot of the big builders and [for them] OH&S is huge,” Mr. Gomizelj said.
“Incorporating that with working in the service area is and having experience of having to organise things on the day or within hours of whatever circumstance was something important. It could involve SES or the fire brigade or emergency service. You have to get things done.
“Being in that environment for 35 years, it rubs off on you. If you want to organise things, you just have to do it efficiently. You don’t want to waste other people’s times and I hate wasting my time.”
Mr. Gomizelj said he also had some practical experience having served as the treasurer of his industry association, which is national in scope.
Communication and being comfortable dealing with a wide range of people were listed as among the most important attributes of an Owners Corporation chairperson, according to Mr. Gomizelj.
“It’s about communicating. You can’t just go and do things on your own, you have to communicate across the board,” he said.
“People skills, sometimes you have to be a bit firm and people don’t like it. Sometimes you just have to be blunt and that’s how it is, but you need tact in how you approach it.
“You need to be in the right frame of mind because there’s no point blowing steam at anyone, so it just comes down to communicating well and how you approach it.”
As a business owner, Mr. Gomizelj said that there were a lot of similarities between running his business and acting as chairperson of the Owners Corporation.
“[The Owners Corporation is not] like a business, it is a business,” he said.
“But you have to remember, you’re not just dealing with your own money, it’s everyone else’s money too so you have to be fair across the board and take into account costs and ask if there’s a better way.
“Sometimes there’s no option, but it’s about what’s best for the community.
“It can get pretty demanding. When there’s problems, at least we have a building manager here and I deal with the owner of the copany that is contracted here and they might ring me if there’s a problem and ask what we [the Owners Corporation] want to do about it,” Mr. Gomizelj said.
The importance of the committee as a collective comes to the fore in these situations.
“If it’s something that is easy to resolve, we’ll resolve it then, but if it’s something that’s going to be a lot of cost or time, you need to quickly get a hold of the committee or discuss it at the next committee meeting and try to resolve it as quick as possible.
“A lot of the work is done on the phone or email. I’d say it’s about eight hours a month, maybe 10.
“It depends on what’s happening at the time and as it’s a new building we have to liaise with the builder or possibly the developer if something has arisen that affects them.
“Nine times out of 10 it’s not a problem but you have to go through the right channels and that can be time consuming.”
So, why do it?
“You’re living in a community you’re trying to make better, so that everyone can have an enjoyable time where they’re living,” Mr. Gomizelj said.
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