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  • #60094
    Flame Tree (Qld)
    Flatchatter

    My committee has been advised 4 times they cannot by the law law pay for in-lot pest control (when doing annual common area pc) without a prior agreement with owners to seek and enforce cost reimbursement. They are proceeding regardless to offer it free and paid for by owner’s fund, though have now said this will be the last time (with no explanation of why it’s been okay to date but won’t be next time) and since used the Strata company email to advise owners of the forthcoming date. To me it’s akin to planning one final bank robbery and going straight maybe later.

    I am trying to pinpoint the breakdown and think it is a) the Strata Manager knowing/not knowing the law but not advising the committee this is an unlawful use of owners funds, b) the committee ignoring the advice and proceeding on regardless.

    The committee is often pretty ignorant or disdainful of the related law and the Strata company often seems to know where their bread is buttered. So I’m interested in the Strata Manager’s responsibility to owners over committee silliness and what other’s may suggest as the way to ensure we get the Strata services we pay for and guidance, and protection we should expect of them?

    (We are in QLd).

    • This topic was modified 7 months ago by .
Viewing 11 replies - 1 through 11 (of 11 total)
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  • #60119
    Jimmy-T
    Keymaster

    I was intitially asking myself what the problem was here, regarding the scheme paying for pest treatment for all the lots.  Everybody gets their untit treated, so where’s the harm?

    And the answer is that some people will be paying less than they should, subsidised by others paying more than they should, because the money that goes into the kitty is based on unit entitlements.

    What the committee should be doing is paying for treating common areas and negotiating a reduced fee to be paid by the lot owners individually.

    On the question of the strata manager’s “duty of care”, for want of a better phrase, I think you need to pinpoint areas where they have given bad advice or failed to warn owners that they are breaking the law and either ask them to lift their game, if it’s a big firm ask them to appoint a better manager or raise it at your next AGM as a sign that it may be time to get a new manager.

    Also, there is a code of conduct for Queensland body corporate managers, which says, among other things:

    • They must have a good working knowledge and understanding of the Act, including the code of conduct, relevant to their functions.
    • They must act honestly, fairly and professionally .
    • They must exercise reasonable skill, care and diligence.
    • They must act in the best interests of the body corporate unless it is unlawful to do so.
    • They must take reasonable steps to ensure an employee complies with the Act, including the code.
    • They must not engage in unconscionable conduct including requiring the body corporate to comply with conditions that are unlawful or not reasonably necessary.

    The Code of Conduct is supposed to be part of the BC Manager’s contract, so I would think a breach of the code might be considered a breach of contract.  That could be something to get their attention, at the very least.

    #60137
    Flame Tree (Qld)
    Flatchatter
    Chat-starter

    I’ve emailed our guy to outline my concerns and am awaiting a response. When you’ve got a bit of a lazy or dodgy committee: I’ll give a little to the live and let live approach so long as the job gets done. But where too many issues are getting through it seems fair for affected owners to raise their voice and seek to right the ship on this and create future, better precedents. And when it comes to communal funds Qld law is pretty specific to not spend my money inside other committee members apartments. I’d dare to suggest despite professional responsibility Strata Managers know what side their bread is buttered on so are happy to say nothing nor create work for themselves fearing to do so too loud or often might encourage the committee to find another more complacent. Thanks for your thoughts.

    #60248
    Flame Tree (Qld)
    Flatchatter
    Chat-starter

    You’d think they would take my complaint seriously, but no, one of Brisbane’s more prominent Strata Manger’s has not bothered to respond more than a week after receiving this serious complaint. It will hardly help their cause come next AGM when seeking re-appointment.

    #60306
    Flame Tree (Qld)
    Flatchatter
    Chat-starter

    As noted in another post, my committee is about to knowingly mis-use thousands of dollars of owner’s funds for in-lot pest control to some units (though not all) when the annual common areas pest control is done. They’ve been told this is unlawful yet intend to proceed. The Strata Manager refuses to intervene. The thought of using my money inside committee members lots really grates me. I’ve said a number of times in writing that I intend to seek police to attend to halt this civil matter should the contractor service private residences without a cost recovery agreement in place with owners.

    Can anyone suggest another way, such as warning off the pest controller beforehand, or threatening the contract of the property services guy who organized him at the request of the committee. And if anyone has bothered with an pre-emptive legal approach such as an injunction would you recommend that?

    #60316
    Jimmy-T
    Keymaster

    Can anyone suggest another way, such as warning off the pest controller beforehand, or threatening the contract of the property services guy who organized him at the request of the committee. And if anyone has bothered with an pre-emptive legal approach such as an injunction would you recommend that?

    The Queensland body corporate equivalent on an injunction is an interim order but that is unlikely to be approved (according to their fact sheet) due to the absence of serious, irreversible harm.

    I would start a normal process now with an application to the AG’s office for a ruling that the committee members who approved the expenditure be ordered to refund the Body Corporate the whole amount of the cost of the pest control.  You don’t have much chance of achieving it, but it might establish that they are doing the wrong thing.

    Or you could go down the conciliation and dispute route and although you can skip conciliation if there is a matter of urgency, again I doubt if this applies.

    Threatening the property services person or warning off the pest control person is crossing a line (marked “strata nutcase”) so I wouldn’t go there.

    The best advice I can give is to write to the committee and the strata manager and tell them that if they go ahead with this, you will seek orders from Office of the Commissioner for Body Corporate and Community Management that they individually repay the Body Corporate since they are knowingly defrauding the owners for their own benefit. This is not a case of them making an error in good faith since they have been told that they are doing the wrong thing and have chosen to ignore the advice.

     

    • This reply was modified 7 months ago by .
    #60468
    Flame Tree (Qld)
    Flatchatter
    Chat-starter

    Just an update on the nonsense. The committee did what they said they would do – dud some non-participating owners by spending general funds on their own, and others, in-lot pest control, and I did what I said I would do – involve the local cop shop who were all ears. They wouldn’t attend but did make a report should things go pear-shaped in future.

    Probably the most obvious factor, and the most concerning, was to recognize the Strata Manager is firmly behind the committee regardless, knowing it is they that will recommend their on-going appointment and pay cheque. It’s very poor form on the Strata’s part, full-well knowing they were endorsing or not correcting the committee’s unlawful practice, and I can now recognize that form on other prior issues here. On the chance it was a naïve manager I did write to the Strata owner but he has also refused to address these serious issues by any response.

    It’s all a bit rotten and I’m wondering where I should go with this. It’s sketchy as, and has undermined faith in working with the Strata manager or the company in future, and makes you wonder what else has been going on?

    #60479
    Quirky
    Flatchatter

    I wonder if it’s as clear cut as you say? The body corporate has a responsibility to maintain the common property, and the walls, floor, ducts, ventilation and plumbing in each apartment is common property, and is where vermin and pests live and spread.

    The pest controller will need to access apartments to treat these areas, and if a mouse chews through an NBN cable inside an apartment, the body corporate would be at fault for failing to have controlled the pests. In fact, as said earlier, for a proper pest control treatment to protect common property there will need to be application done inside each apartment, as well as around the more accessible common property areas.

    That’s why commonly the body corporate will subsidise the treatments inside apartments, because the treatment benefits the building as a whole as well as the owner of the apartment, and it is hard to quantify who benefits the most. But I think it is wrong to assume that the treatment inside an apartment only benefits that owner, and they must pay for it entirely. The building as a whole benefits when pests are eliminated and cannot spread. So if you take action as you plan, the body corporate could make a good case that if was to the general good to carry out treatments throughout the building.

    If working out how to divide the costs between owners and the building is too hard, then it is reasonable that the building covers the whole cost. You need to check the scope of the work – if it says that the pest control is to concentrate on treating pests that interfere with the common property, and spread between apartments, then you may not have much of a case.

     

    • This reply was modified 6 months, 3 weeks ago by .
    #60490
    Flame Tree (Qld)
    Flatchatter
    Chat-starter

    Thanks for your comment Quirky. Unfortunately, I’ll disagree with you completely. Seems the Queensland Body Corporate Commissioner’s ACT and adjudication rulings differ to your suggestions, and assumptions also. Some things are very clear, such as what is common property and service, and what remains the individual owner responsibility. There are no shared costs as owner’s pay into a general fund for somethings that benefit all and that’s it. The committee can offer to facilitate additional services to individual lot owners but owners must, by law, pay for these themself or if paid by general funds have an agreement in place to get the money back.

    #60492
    Jimmy-T
    Keymaster

    Unfortunately, I’ll disagree with you completely. Seems the Queensland Body Corporate Commissioner’s ACT and adjudication rulings differ to your suggestions, and assumptions also.

    If that’s the case, why aren’t the BCC adjudicating in your favour? I’d have thought you’d have gone to them with this rather that the local constabulary (who, quite rightly IMHO) have decided to stay well out of it.

    The best way to do things isn’t always the strictly legal way. Most strata schemes in Australia are non-compliant with the laws in some way at some point.  There are some battles where surrender is actually a victory.  I would just let it go – small war, not many dead.

    #60495
    Flame Tree (Qld)
    Flatchatter
    Chat-starter

    “If that’s the case, why aren’t the BCC adjudicating in your favour? I’d have thought you’d have gone to them with this rather that the local constabulary (who, quite rightly IMHO) have decided to stay well out of it.”

    Well, it’s kinda not that hard… they likely will (as they don’t usually contradict themself on straight forward matters, and as inferred/discussed with the Commissioner’s office), and being a recent event I haven’t gone that way yet, and along similar lines as your final para: I’m considering the longer play for all of us here, not just my side of things.

    As for the cops, there was a real chance of a major blow up and they have an interest in keeping the peace so told me previously they don’t mind involvement if possibly needed even though it is still a civil matter. They were genuinely interesting in the storyline. A recorded incident number also let’s folk know they were actually interested enough should they need attend again.

    #60503
    Jimmy-T
    Keymaster

    they likely will (as they don’t usually contradict themself on straight forward matters, and as inferred/discussed with the Commissioner’s office), and being a recent event I haven’t gone that way yet,

    There are processes that could be followed to resolve this.  You may find that when actual BCC involvement  is flagged (rather than just threatened), the other side will cave.

    However, if you are looking to punish the committee for not listening to your wise counsel, remember that Confucian saying: “When you go seeking revenge, remember to dig two graves.”

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