Overexposed strata chairs may hide from the Hub

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Executive committees could be about to see a mass exodus of office-bearers as a new register of strata schemes takes effect in NSW next month, warn insiders.

Simply put, some chairs and secretaries of strata committees don’t want their neighbours to be able to contact them too easily.

They are doing unpaid voluntary work and if there is some sort of strife in the building (and when isn’t there?) they don’t want angry phone calls at all hours of the day and night or emails pestering them at work.

But, as discussed in last week’s Flat Chat Wrap podcast, their preferred anonymity is about to be swept away – in NSW at least – when the state’s new strata information Hub fires up at the end of June.

The Hub is the brainchild of Services minister Victor Dominello, a former Fair Trading minister and a self-confessed data geek. 

Mr Dominello quite rightly thinks there are too many random unknowns in the state’s strata schemes and he doubtless dreams of a day when government agencies know exactly how many swimming pools, lifts, parking spaces and solar energy panels there are in strataland.

But until then there is a more modest proposal to collect information that some strata professionals fear will see experienced committee members resigning in droves while others are reluctant to replace them .

As of June 30, strata schemes will be required to register all sorts of details about themselves. Controversially, these will include the names, phone numbers and email addresses of the strata secretary, chairperson, strata manager, building manager and emergency contact (if there is one).

This information will be available to anyone listed on the strata roll, and that includes owners, rental agents and tenants, all of whom are required by law to be on the roll.

But, as discussed in this week’s podcast, it seems the government won’t be using notoriously unreliable strata rolls to identify renters who will have access to the information – they’ll be checking names against their own rental bond lists.

“In a building of 100 lots [the information] would be available conservatively to 500 people across owners and tenants. There is nothing to stop this information being passed on to others,” Lance O’Loughlin, a strata manager with Absolute Strata Management told Flat Chat. 

“It is hard enough getting volunteers as it stands. This is not going to help.”

The information that must be passed to the Hub, or risk hefty fines, also includes basic facts like the strata scheme’s number, its address, the number of lots it contains and what they are used for – residential, commercial, utilities or “others”.

Schemes will also to declare if and when occupation and fire safety certificates were issued, whether or not it has a NABERS sustainability rating and how many storeys above ground it is and its insured replacement value.

All of this information is valuable when the authorities are trying to build a picture of the nuts and bolts of the strata scene, ostensibly so they can plan for the future.

It also allows owners, tenants and agents to know where the block stands in terms of issues like documentation and sustainability. Investor owners, especially, will benefit from being able to contact the key players in their blocks directly.

But it’s the personal contact details for committee chairs and secretaries that has alarm bells ringing in some quarters.

Some strata committee office-bearers may feel that turning up to meetings and subjecting themselves to random, unfocussed complaints from angry residents is as much of their peace of mind as they are prepared to sacrifice.

Having their phone number and email address available to everyone who lives in or owns in the building will be a reach too far – or too close – for many.

For now, this is happening in NSW only but you can bet that it will spread to other states if the anticipated benefits to government ensue.

A version of this column first appeared in the Australian Financial Review.

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Flat Chat Strata Forum Current Page

Viewing 8 replies - 1 through 8 (of 8 total)
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    Replies
  • #63339
    WMB
    Flatchatter

    What can we do to prevent this happening? Its completely unreasonable. Only a handful of people in my block currently have my number and it is extraordinary (and at times unbelievable) the calls I get at unreasonable times-never has it been an emergency. This is as you say, a step too far for many of us.

    #63341
    Jimmy-T
    Keymaster
    Chat-starter

    Contact your strata management firm (not just your strata manager) and the Owners Corporation Network (ocn.org.au). That would be a start.  Write to your local MP and local paper.  All of the above.

    #63350
    scotlandx
    Strataguru

    There is no indication of how the information on the register would be controlled. If a person has access to the information, what is to prevent them from sharing it with a third person who doesn’t have access to the information.

    So theoretically anyone could have my personal details including residential address, phone number and email. Forget it.

    I suppose I could just give a dummy email address and phone number but that’s not really my style, and my name would still be there.

    #63356
    Quirky
    Flatchatter

    I suggest you create a specific email for the role – such as “SecretaryOfSP1234@gmail.com” and use that for general strata matters. It means that when you cease being Secretary, or Chair or Treasurer, you can pass the email address and its password on to your replacement, who will see a history of the ongoing  matters for the building. Register this email on the HUB. You can also share the email and its password with other Committee members, and provide its details and password to your strata manager, so if you busy or unavailable, others can step in if required.

    As for a phone number, this isn’t absolutely necessary to provide, unless the building pays for a mobile service to be used by the Secretary or Committee (an increasingly common practice). As long as some kind of communication contact is provided, the HUB is serving its purpose.

    #63358
    Jimmy-T
    Keymaster
    Chat-starter

    As for a phone number, this isn’t absolutely necessary to provide …

    The regulations says different, but the idea of mobiles for the secretary and chair is a good one, as is the gmail address.  The phones and the passwords just get passed on when the incumbents resign or are replaced.

    This is what the regulation amendment says:

    43 Owners corporations to give information annually
    (1) The owners corporation for a strata scheme must give the information specified in clause 43A about the strata scheme to the Secretary in the approved form … (etc etc).

    43A Information required for purposes of clause 43
    (1) For the purposes of clause 43, the following information is specified—

    (m) the following details of the secretary of the owners corporation—
    (i) full name,
    (ii) telephone number,
    (iii) email address,
    (n) the following details of the chairperson of the owners corporation—
    (i) full name,
    (ii) telephone number,
    (iii) email address,

     

    #63359
    Just Asking
    Flatchatter

    Like Quirky, I am intending setting up a gmail account for all strata communications. In the case of the secretary and chairman, I think it should be sufficient for them to choose a preferred method of contact, phone or email or both, to be notified to the hub. There is a separate notification of an emergency contact person, and so it is not vital that phone numbers be provided to the hub for administrative matters.

    How to campaign for an amendment to the regulations?

    • This reply was modified 1 month, 1 week ago by .
    #63361
    Sir Humphrey
    Strataguru

    Where I live, we have an email address that redirects to whoever is a member of the current committee. That way, residents always know a reliable way to get in touch even as committee composition changes from year to year. It helps that the whole committee gets to see any matter being raised. It increases the chance that any urgent matter will be dealt with promptly as there will usually be at least one of us on site at any particular time.

    #63362
    scotlandx
    Strataguru

    I have a gmail address specifically for strata matters. I highly recommend doing this, that way the account is just used for strata stuff, and you don’t lose anything. Also I don’t have to look at it every day.

    We have nine lots in our strata scheme, if I suggested we buy a phone just so we complied with the regulations the owners would be very amused.

     

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