Victoria’s voice of strata reason comes on board


Julie McLean, President of Strata Community Association (Vic) with Tim Graham, SCA (Vic) Vice President (centre) and Danny Pearson MP, Victoria's Minister for Government Services and Assistant Treasurer.

Regular Flatchatters will know that in recent months we have been making an effort to cover issues in Victorian strata.

However, as we often state, strata laws are very different in different states and there are fundamentals and nuances that slip past us.

That’s why we are delighted to call on the services of Julie McLean, president of the Victorian branch of Strata Community Australia (SCA) the national professional body for strata managers.

Julie is an active and vocal proponent of proper training and certification of strata managers, as well as education and support for strata owners and residents.  She has been a successful strata manager in her own right and is now a highly regarded consultant as well as heading up SCA (Vic).

We look forward to her contribution, in whatever form it takes, including putting us right on our occasional missteps and misconceptions.

But why are we suddenly so interested in Victoria? For years we have been labouring under the illusion that everything was fine and dandy in Victorian strata (notwithstanding the wholesale handover of city centre apartments to Airbnb hosts).

But recently it has become apparent that this was far from true.

To be fair, the recent problems of the Aurora building in Melbourne are an extreme example of what can go wrong when a committed minority takes control of a block, for whatever reason, and the other owners belatedly discover that things are not as they should be.

However, the Aurora fiasco also exposed some major systemic flaws in the state’s strata system, from lack of transparency at strata committee level to the Consumer Advice and Tribunal systems being unable to cope with the number and complexity of problems with which they are supposed to deal.

Now, there are many strata schemes – probably the majority – where the strata committees keep owners informed, consult with them on major issues and generally operate openly and fairly, as the law intends.

But then there are the others where self-interested individuals and groups take advantage of legal loopholes and lack of accountability to ignore their responsibilities, often with devastating effect.

We have passed on reliable reports about flammable cladding replacements revealing buildings rotting from the inside – we’d guess due to basic maintenance being ignored – to a proxy-wielding minority blocking essential maintenance on an older block because they didn’t want to pay higher fees (levies).

That same block has illegally postponed its AGM indefinitely because, it has openly stated, the current committee might be voted out by people who want to change things.

Both of these issues – failure to maintain common property and hold regular AGMs – are in breach of Victorian strata law. But with Tribunal hearings backlogged to next year, the prospect of rectifying the situation in the short term seem remote.

Meanwhile, the Government and the mainstream media seem to be deaf to the cries for help from strata owners who find that the laws designed to define and protect their rights simply aren’t fit for purpose.

So we will look at the situation in Victoria with fresh eyes, identifying the problems and promoting potential solutions, all the while, with Julie on board, feeling a lot more confident that we have our facts right.

You can read Julie’s first contributions to Flat Chat – including a comprehensive response to a complicated Forum question HERE and her views on what happens when owners corporations are the de facto custodians of affordable housing HERE.

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      Regular Flatchatters will know that in recent months we have been making an effort to cover issues in Victorian strata. However, as we often state, st
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      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.
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