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  • #56870
    PeterFM
    Flatchatter

      Why are my strata levies, for a 2 bedroom apartment in a 50 lot, 10 year old  building, so much more than the annual maintenance costs of a large 4 bedroom free standing house on a large block of land in a nearby suburb?  Partly the answer I suspect is the every increasing invoices for ‘services’ and contractors, especially fire safety services.  are strata apartments considered to be fat cash cows where very few individuals take much interest in expenditure.

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    • #56881
      Sir Humphrey
      Strataguru

        You should be able to see a breakdown of the Owners Corporation’s budget in the papers presented at each AGM. Does anything stand out? One common reason for high levies is earlier low levies. A possibility is that levies were kept too low for a period of time, resulting in insufficient reserves in the Sinking Fund and now a more responsible committee has adjusted the budget to build up funds for planned maintenance over the next decade.

        #56884
        kaindub
        Flatchatter

          Peter

          the last statement you make is true.

          Committees leave it to the Strata Manager to manage the finances. The accounts presented are presumed to be true, but I have found many times for overcharging by contractors which the SM never picked up.

          And don’t think an audit will pick this up because it doesn’t.

          Strata Managers also tend to use contractors on their roster. Often these are larger corporates rather than local businesses. You’re paying for fancy offices and company cars. Having the committee get quotes for work from local suppliers results in lower bills.

          One thing to keep in mind is that the OC is obliged to maintain common property. Where in your own home one can put off repairs, the OC can’t.

          And services like lifts and fire services are not found in (normal) houses, but these are expensive as they require yearly inspections and certification.

          Most owners are happy to pay levies provided they don’t go up too much, and leave all the headaches to someone else.

          A good active involved committee can go a long way to controlling costs.

          #56889
          Sir Humphrey
          Strataguru

            I agree that an active committee can save a lot of money by using local tradies rather than big maintenance companies with overheads. A better job can be achieved if the committee supervises the work and talks to the tradies directly about what is needed and listens to their advice. That requires someone with the time and inclination and enough nous to distinguish good advice from poor.

            Where I am, our levies are low but we maintain things well. As treasurer, I am not afraid to put levies up when needed and we maintain a good contingency reserve so we can do anything necessary in a timely manner.

            #60563
            optusJo
            Flatchatter

              I am in Victoria – Our Strata Manager contract has

              2.2 Additional services paid by hourly rate or fixed fee (The hourly fee is $220)

              Arrange any major (> $1,000 or 15 minutes) maintenance/repair/replacement of Owners Corporation
              Property (% of project value)
              Upon agreement  or hourly rate

              If this applies to getting quotes – it could explain  high levy fees.
              I wonder how this is shown in invoices or quotes?  Perhaps it should be mandatory for all invoices and quotes to be accessible on the “owner’s portal”.

               

               

              #60571
              TrulEConcerned
              Flatchatter

                In addition to the good comments made so far (especially yours of “cash cows”), may I suggest you ask your managing agent to email you say

                ” a copy of the cash payments journal for 1/01/21 to 1/12/21″. This is a 1 minute job for him to organise.

                This accounting document lists ALL payments (not just cash) made by the strata; when they were made; to whom were they made and why they were made.

                A review of that document by you should fill in the blanks and help you take the matter to the next step.

                #60573
                Jimmy-T
                Keymaster

                  I wonder how this is shown in invoices or quotes?  Perhaps it should be mandatory for all invoices and quotes to be accessible on the “owner’s portal”.

                  If the portal is protected by passwords and accessible only to lot owners, there is no reason financial documents such as invoices shouldn’t be available.  Propose a motion for your next committee meeting or AGM.

                  The opinions offered in these Forum posts and replies are not intended to be taken as legal advice. Readers with serious issues should consult experienced strata lawyers.
                  #61554
                  david2708
                  Flatchatter

                    Whilst it may seem the use of local tradies would be cheaper, they may likely fail to meet the criteria of the Strata manager in terms if insurance, workers comp etc, and they therefore would take no responsibility for any failure in the work of the contractor you chose. You would have to follow up the deficiencies and not the Strata manager.

                    I do agree Strata work is a cash cow for the big companies and they charge like wounded bulls.

                    High levies, as people have said, could be a failure of a committee to build up sufficient reserves in the capital works fund.

                    Look at your building’s 10 year plan. That may clue you in the works down the road and you are building up reserves to meet that.

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