Flat Chat Strata Forum The Professionals Current Page

  • Creator
    Topic
  • #72442
    kaindub
    Flatchatter

      Jimmy’s last newsletter (delivered via email and reproduced below) said how he solved the problem of obtaining a strata roll at his investment property

      I understand the battles you are having with the strata managers but the solution agreed to is just bowing to them.

      The act, as we all know, says any owner can get any strata record. That includes the strata roll. The act does not specify that the document needs to be held under lock and key, encoded or anything else.

      The agreement to protect the document is a hollow victory. What is to say that the strata manager deems the way the document is secured in not to their liking. Back to square one.

      There should be NO conditions on obtaining a strata roll, as per the Act.

      And as an aside, the simplest way to make the roll non accessible is to store it on a USB stick (not on your computer or device) and put that in the top drawer. No cyber criminal will find it there.

       

      • This topic was modified 2 months, 3 weeks ago by .
    Viewing 15 replies - 1 through 15 (of 15 total)
    • Author
      Replies
    • #72450
      Jimmy-T
      Keymaster

        I understand the battles you are having with the strata managers but the solution agreed to is just bowing to them.

        No, you don’t understand, because you don’t know the facts. I was dealing with a strata manager who was used to running the show and periodically updating owners on what was going on.  Nothing sinister there – it’s just they way they usually worked and most of their clients were happy to go along with it.

        When we asked for the strata roll, they refused to hand it over, saying it wasn’t their normal practise and in any case it was private.  The former was irrelevant, the latter was not supported by any law that I know of.

        When I wrote an email telling them that they were in breach of the Act, all Hell broke loose with their CEO chipping in with seriously unhelpful comments.

        Then last week, I had a chat with Strata Commissioner John Minns and his offsider Lachlan Malloch and asked them for a definitive ruling on this.  I didn’t get one.

        Instead, it became apparent that, while the law is exactly as you have outlined in your post (and as I have constantly argued), it was written before corporate cyber attacks and before innocent people could click on the wrong apparently authentic email and find all their email addresses being posted on the dark web.

        The feeling I got was that taking this argument to court or a tribunal was far from the slam-dunk you suggest. So I suggested the super-secure storage option.  They would give the strata secretary the strata roll with email addresses and we would store it somewhere it was safe.  Even I don’t have access to it.

        If owners wanted use the email addresses – to which they are legally entitled – even to run a campaign against the strata committee, we would dutifully forward the emails provided they were legal, and neither offensive nor defamatory.

        My personal view is if that wasn’t sufficient, they could take us to a tribunal and seek orders and, between you and me and the FlatChat faithful, I wouldn’t recommend spending a cent on lawyers to defend the case.

        However, I might turn up myself, hook my thumbs in my waistcoat and say “cyber security – we’re  protecting the owners from the dark web while ensuring they can communicate with each other.”

        Now, as with the judge who had to have it explained what the Rolling Stones were, I might have to elucidate on the Dark Web, but I think I could give a random pod-botherer a run for their money.

        So, bowing to the strata managers?  They didn’t want us to have the strata roll and email addresses, now we have them – the conditions applied were those we, not they, suggested but they could live with them.

        Meanwhile we have the opportunity to mend fences at the local level, communicate directly with the scheme’s ownership and in these, the early days of the strata scheme, right the ship and set a true course.

        And we got what we wanted without going to a tribunal or a court; you must know that the five words a lawyer most wants to hear are: “It’s a matter of principle.”

        And as an aside, the simplest way to make the roll non accessible is to store it on a USB stick (not on your computer or device) and put that in the top drawer. No cyber criminal will find it there.

        Hmmm. Same difference. But when your local keyboard warrior demands the email addresses so they can spread conspiracy theories about the whole committee being in cahoots with the developer/strata manager/building manager/plumber (delete as necessary), what do you do then?

        I know what I would do and I wouldn’t be bowing to anyone.

         

        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.
        #72463
        TrulEConcerned
        Flatchatter

          Many OCs and strata managers make it difficult to access strata documents, even if the person seeking access is on the strata committee.

          One strata manager I deal with got the OC to agree to a management contract in the form supplied by the Strata Community Association.

          That agreement from memory lists what documents will be available to committee members to access at no charge via a portal e.g. invoices etc but for ALL other documents eg strata roll, bank statements etc there will be a charge per document.

          I am unable to understand why some owners would support such a lopsided contract. Unless of course they failed to read the contract before voting “Aye”.

          #72466
          Jimmy-T
          Keymaster

            The standard SCA contract for strata managers is very lopsided, something the top people at SCA-NSW will admit … privately … but are doing nothing about except mumbling incoherently about reforms.  The fact is that their membership would be up in arms if much was done to make the contracts more equitable, even though they cas a shadow over their much-vauinted “professional standards” status.

            It will be intresting to see what the new unfair contracts provision being introduced by the NSW does to the picture.  Meanwhile, I reckon you could challenge existing contracts on the basis that they have clauses that contravene the Act – such as withholding documents or charging for their provision when the law says they should be made available.

            But be prepared for Strata Wars III if you tried that.

            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.
            #72468
            Jimmy-T
            Keymaster

              This was the introductory text on my newsletter last week:

              There’s been an interesting development in my ongoing arm wrestle over access to the strata roll and email addresses of other owners in my new block in the country.

              The strata managers – one of the biggest in NSW – were throwing up all sorts of obstacles to handing over the aforesaid documents.

              However, the law says that all owners – especially the strata secretary – should have access to the strata roll and that the strata roll should have owners’ email addresses if they have such a thing (and who hasn’t, these days).

              It was all starting to get a bit ugly with the strata managers claiming owners’ rights to privacy (although strata schemes are pretty much exempt from privacy laws) while yours truly was ready to man the barricades for the strata secretary’s right and occasional need to contact owners without having messages pass through the strata managers’ hands.

              However, one argument against making email addresses available is the question of cyber security.  What if the secretary clicks on a dodgy email and all their email addresses are broadcast far and wide or, even worse, infected with a crippling virus?

              And then there are the keyboard warriors who have the time and twisted inclination to bombard neighbours with conspiracy theories and defamatory emails.

              Then I had a brainwave. What if the strata secretary undertook to store the strata roll and email addresses in a secure location only accessible via firewalls using two stage security? Amid sighs of relief, the compromise was agreed and we move forward.

              That could be a good model for all strata schemes where responsible committees are being denied access to the owners contact details. The keyboard warriors can fight their own battles.

              If you don’t already get the Flat Chat Newsletter, which contains a weekly roundup and links to all the latest posts on the website, you can sign up via the box at the bottom right-hand of the web page.

              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.
              #72482
              Flame Tree (Qld)
              Flatchatter

                Adjudicators rightly view strata owner’s contact information as public records and available to ‘interested parties’ on application, which might include owners, agents, settlement solicitors etc. Withholding them is typically used as a ploy by the strata manager who knows this, or is required to know this, but they often try it on at the behest of the committee who doesn’t know their obligations to release it as requested or feel an aggrieved owner will use the contacts to tell a side of a story they disagree with – and on ‘paying a fee’ (which had value years ago when photocopying was required and before a simple pdf could be sent). Apparent misuse of any records given doesn’t come in to it and assumption that this may happen is no excuse.

                I previously had this issue and stood my ground until they conceded after I pointed out the legislation says it’s to be made available to interested parties, that the strata manager’s own monthly online newsletter carried an article saying this very thing, that they had given these out to another owner just 3 months prior, that though I had credited my account for a nominal amount as pre-payment there was actually no real way to make a payment for an unsent invoice for the undetermined cost.

                I filed an application for adjudication seeking the roll, and after they eventually conceded they sent it to me. After-which they wrote to all owners totally defaming me as of suspicious character and motive and to report me to who knows who for who knows what should they feel I was misusing the information. I considered personally suing both the author (secretary), and the publisher (strata manager) for defamation but decided I could live without further and on-going stress.

                #72486
                Jimmy-T
                Keymaster

                  By the way, before I proposed my compromise, the strata manager wanted us to put a motion on the agenda that basically said we took responsibility for any security breaches etc etc.  The way it was worded was to make the owners think that we were irresponsible, and their personal information was in serious peril.  We just ignored it, put up a motion demanding access to the strata roll and had it passed, with my suggestion that the roll would be kept securely as an amendment.

                  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.
                  #72509
                  Flame Tree (Qld)
                  Flatchatter

                    I hardly think a bunch of randoms names and email addresses warrants a Fort Knox-type security response. These are public records and accessible by others already (politicians, local councils etc), and there’s nothing to stop you putting unaddressed information into the on-site mail boxes which you are required to have.

                    And why would them keeping these records necessarily be any more secure than the way you would? Legislation says the roll information is yours (as an interested party) to access, and to contact as you desire, the content of which is most likely none of their business.

                    You can’t Motion against legislation and you don’t need to Motion for it. It’s all a bit of a time-wasting nonsense really.

                    #72512
                    Jimmy-T
                    Keymaster

                      It’s all a bit of a time-wasting nonsense really.

                      Yeah.  It took several hours … well, minutes … about two seconds, actually, for the secretary to store the strata roll in his secure digital vault.

                      The alternative was a bitter and nasty battle with the strata manager – one of the biggest and most influential in the country – that looked to be headed for a Tribunal hearing while the credibility of the new committee, representing a lot of people who had never lived in strata before, was undermined by the people who DID have access to their email addresses.

                      All we needed to do was undercut their central argument against following the law by making it look like they had won a concession when in fact they had lost.

                      Yeah, a complete waste of time. Obviously we should have gone to the barricades and lived with all the damage that would have done.

                      Have a listen to this week’s podcast (when I put it online) if you are really interested.

                      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.
                      #72583
                      David Ng
                      Flatchatter

                        I know you said it Jimmy, but why are Strata Managers so ignorant? Is it wilful? Or what? If there was a basic questionnaire that committees asked potential SMs prior to hiring them, then this would have to be top of the list.

                        • This reply was modified 2 months, 2 weeks ago by .
                        #72586
                        Jimmy-T
                        Keymaster

                          Most strata managers are not ignorant – many of them are well-trained and smart.  However, if their bosses say, “whatever you do, don’t let the owners talk to each other,” what are they going to do?

                          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.
                          #72597
                          TrulEConcerned
                          Flatchatter

                            It would be useful if strata managers were penalised heavily for breaking the law. If they must hand over details of the strata roll and refuse to do so or make amendments to the strata roll if asked by owners and refuse, then a fat fine, say for the first offence, $2,000 on the management firm and $1,000 on the individual himself/herself who refused to comply would be a good start.

                            Sometimes strata managers are ignorant of the law, sometimes they want a fee (to provide the roll) as it may fall under what the SCA contract calls “additional services” and sometimes they are just plain nasty.

                            Case in point: we have a manager in place for 18 months. Every time there is a need to access my premises (water issues etc) she would email me demanding access. Sometimes giving <24 hrs notice. I would then have to reach out to my tenant. Assuming I reached out in time.

                            As I don’t live on the premises, I asked for my tenant instead to be notified by the strata mgr directly. Strata mgr refused stating “I go by the names listed on the strata roll”. I replied that for 20 years I have not lived there and ALL previous strata managers complied with my requests to contact the relevant tenant. The latest strata manager continued to refuse to liaise with the tenant.

                            When a new committee was formed, which I joined, one member seemed to have a good relationship with the strata mgr. She asked the strata mgr on my behalf and presto: the tenant is now contacted directly by the strata mgr.

                            I am unsure if ignoring my instruction as to liaising with the tenant is evidence that the manager is vindictive or just ignorant of her obligations. But the fact that without a peep of dissent, she agreed to what I wanted when it came from another owner on my behalf.

                            Had the other committee member not been successful in obtaining the result she did, I would be compelled to complain to FT to ask the strata mgr to explain herself.

                            #72599
                            Jimmy-T
                            Keymaster

                              It would be useful if strata managers were penalised heavily for breaking the law.

                              I’ll drink to that.  Strata managers are all influence without responsibility – the “prerogative of the harlot” I believe it’s called.

                              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.
                              #72613
                              woodg62
                              Flatchatter

                                 “prerogative of the harlot”

                                Associating Strata Managers with harlots is insulting – to all harlots!

                                #72614
                                Flame Tree (Qld)
                                Flatchatter

                                  Jimmy, you misinterpret my words, I meant to state that needing to go to such or potential stress and drama to retrieve a public record that you are rightly able to access is a waste of time, particularly for you, for them, and for anyone else. It just shouldn’t be so time consuming and stressful and those who play that game should be criticized firmly.

                                  #72623
                                  Jimmy-T
                                  Keymaster

                                    Jimmy, you misinterpret my words,

                                    Again. Now you have explained it, I see what you were getting at.  For the record, I still regret to some extent having reached for the compromise.  But sometimes you just have to take whatever wins you can get in order to move forward. And it was a win – in that we got what we wanted, although I am curious about what will happen the first time all the email addresses from a 350-unit block end up on a dodgy website somewhere.

                                    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.
                                  Viewing 15 replies - 1 through 15 (of 15 total)
                                  • You must be logged in to reply to this topic.

                                  Flat Chat Strata Forum The Professionals Current Page