Sydney, ANZAC and Glebe Island Bridges, Sydney - photo Marghanita

Ecologically Sustainable Sydney

Residential Strata Governance

Body Corporates and Strata Plans

Sample AGM Agenda

Do you own a Strata Unit?
Or thinking of buying or ever selling one?

As Australians swap commuting for City Life, we are moving into apartments near public transport or in the Inner City. Most appartments, flats and units in Australia, are part of a Strata Plan and are governed by an Owners Corporation made up of the owners of the individual units. The Strata Plan may comprise multiple buildings, residential and commericial units, car spaces, swimming pools, gyms, tennis courts and lifts.

As a tenant we have a limited interest in the building or our neighbours. As long as the noise level suits us, the common property is clean enough, the lights work and the rent is reasonable, things are fine. Though, a lack of consideration when moving furniture in and out of appartments, maintenance, littering and smoking by your guests and pets can create tensions.

As owners of individual units, members of the body corporate, we also have an financial interest in ensuring our building is well maintained. And if we are renting out our unit, that we have a tenant, they look after the property and pay their rent. If we are living in the unit that you have good neighbours and fellow owners. Often owners expect the executive committee, conveyance lawyer, real estate agent and strata manager to look after their interests. However, owners need to comprehend the information these agents provide and monitor the ongoing management of their property.

The roles and responsibilities of Owners, Executive Committee, Secretary, Treasurer, Arbitrator, Managing Agent and a Caretaker are set out on the NSW Department of Fair Trading and Legislation NSW websites.

Some, if not all states, provide guides and web resources to laws and responsibilities of owners, secretaries and managers of Strata Unit Schemes.

Owners Corporations are required to have an Annual General Meeting, inviting all owners, and to keep minutes of all Meetings of the Executive Committee Meetings. NSW Department of Fair Trading provides information about the requirements for these meetings.

An Agenda, Budget and Financial Report, and Minutes are required to be provided to all Owners. Meetings can be held in writing.

Owners need to ensure they are provided with sufficient information and that there is some anticipation of the need for operations, maintenance and other major outlays.

While the overall cost to the community and environment of higher density living is reduced, the charges to owners and tenants isn't always commensurate. For example services such as water, sewerage, electricity and council rates. Though these are provided to the building as a whole individual owners and tenants are charged as though they are a standalone dwelling. Resulting a significant windfall to Councils and Utility companies. Also, where these bills are managed by the body corporate increases in water charges, for example may not be monitored so as to lead to more responsible water usage.

Planning and Budget

A Budget should include operational or running costs and at least identify if not price maintenance work that needs to be done and provide a timeframe.

Operational and Running Items

For example:

Maintenance Items

Photo of Aerobic Compost Bin For example,

Useful guidance on preparing a budget is available from the NSW department of Fair Trading: Sinking funds - In a strata scheme

Note also, that All residential building work worth over $1,000 requires a written contract

Strata Levies

Owners of individual Apartments (Lots/Units) pay a regular levy to the administrative and sinking funds which are used to maintain the building. In the event an Owner does not pay their Levy, interest can be charged and the debts are recoverable when a property is sold. However, this is not sustainable as there would not be any funds available to maintain the property.

More at: STRATA SCHEMES MANAGEMENT ACT 1996 - 79 Interest and discounts on contributions



Human issues also need to be considered such as littering, smoking, noise, use of common areas, security and safety of person and property, use of toxic materials, garden vegetation and garbage management - separation of recycling and composting.

Author: Marghanita da Cruz
Email: © Ramin Communications 2007-2010. Last modified 28 August 2013.