Does your Owners Corporation manager respond promptly to emails and telephone calls? If not, the New Year is the perfect time for property owners to conduct a top-to-toe review of how their strata buildings are run.
It’s important to regularly ask whether you are getting the level of attention to detail you need from your Owners Corporation manager. Most importantly, you need to be confident that the key issues are being addressed.
In Victoria, there are more than 1,300 registered strata management companies. In a fast-growing industry, there are committed professionals as well as inexperienced operators and one-man-bands.
In 2014, Nelson Alexander set up a division to manage owners’ corporations, the strata administration bodies once known as 'Body Corporate'. Since then, it has boosted its share of Owners Corporation business by providing prompt and reliable communication and service to OC committees and individual members.
Nelson Alexander’s Owners Corporation Manager Sharon Thomas says the company has a solid skillset in managing buildings.
Ms Thomas says Nelson Alexander has increased the number of buildings it looks after three-fold over the past seven years by focusing single-mindedly on service delivery and communication.
“The owners in a building and the Owners Corporation committee should be reviewing their manager regularly,” she says.
“They should be looking at appointing a new manager if they are not happy with the existing one.
“All the new buildings that are moving their Owners Corporation management to Nelson Alexander are doing this typically because of a lack of service and communication from their existing Owners Corporation manager. That’s what it boils down to”.
“We strive to respond to emails received from Owners Corporation members within 24 hours. Our commitment is to service and communication – and we try to go above and beyond providing good service to our clients. We do what we say we are going to do.”
There are five main reasons why Owners Corporations change Owners Corporation managers. It’s important to be aware of these because a sound working relationship between the committee of the owners’ corporation and the owner corporation manager is critical in running any building.
The reasons for changing include no response to emails and phone calls, unreasonable delays with repairs and maintenance and poor advice and guidance of the Owners Corporation.
When a manager appears to be unprofessional or lacking the knowledge to Owners Corporation members, this can quickly lead to a loss of trust and confidence, which is one more reason for appointing a different manager.
A fifth reason for shifting the management account is that the building’s developer appointed the existing Owners Corporation manager and owners weren’t given a choice.
The pressures on owners’ corporations are ratcheting up as Victoria sees a surge in the construction of medium-density and high-density apartment buildings. This is intensifying the competition between unit buildings to attract tenants and owner-occupier residents – and makes the presentation of a building’s public areas and gardens and the promptness with which maintenance and budgeting issues are addressed, of great importance.
Nelson Alexander manages more than 16,000 rental properties on behalf of landlords. The company collects rents, addresses all kinds of short- and long-term maintenance issues and provides useful strategic property management advice to investors.
There are plenty of synergies between Nelson Alexander’s property management, real estate sales and owners’ corporation divisions.
Ms Thomas, who worked in property management for 30 years before moving into the Owners Corporation area, says an excellent advantage for owners’ corporations using Nelson Alexander is that they gain access to an extensive list of quality tradespeople.
“We say to our Owners Corporation members, especially to the owner-occupiers who may not know of a plumber or electrician, we can introduce you to the right tradesperson to get individual works done on their own property,” she says
“We are always happy to give them the contact details of our tradies. And, of course, we only recommend qualified and expert tradespeople to carry out the general Owners Corporation works and maintenance that benefits all the owners in a building.”
During the COVID-19 pandemic, Nelson Alexander staff developed strong skills in running Owners Corporation meetings using Zoom online video technology. The company expects to go on using Zoom for many meetings because a large proportion of owners prefer using the technology rather than attending a face-to-face meeting.
“During COVID, we took over managing the Owners Corporation of 11 new properties,” Ms Thomas says.
“Only one of those new contracts was negotiated through a physical meet and greet. The rest was done through contact via phone, email or Zoom.
“Normally, we conduct a site inspection before an owners’ corporation annual general meeting. We will provide photographs of aspects of the building and garden to the Owners Corporation members, often sending these out with the agenda for the meeting, so that people know the issues we will be talking about.
“Nelson Alexander will go out and inspect properties onsite if needed, whereas a lot of the other Owners Corporation management companies will sit behind their desk and Google information. We are very much hands-on operators.”
Ms Thomas says her division had to get on top of using Zoom technology very quickly: “We had to. We couldn’t say we are not doing any meetings because of COVID.
“The wheels don’t stop turning. We have legislation that we have to comply with. You have to hold an AGM within 15 months of the last meeting. If we had not held any meetings over the past eight months, we would have had 50 or 60 meetings to catch up on.”
She says successful Owners Corporation management has to be genuine service focused and built around excellent communication.
It’s a hands-on strategy that has been so successful that Nelson Alexander now handles the management of owners’ corporations in buildings situated as far afield as Lilydale and Torquay.
If you would like to receive a competitive quote or more information from Nelson Alexander’s owners’ corporation division, please contact Sharon Thomas on (03) 9251 9000 or 0413 589779.