2019 CHU Strata Community Awards: Strata Community Environmental and Engagement Award winner – Waratah Apartments

Strata Committee Chairman for the Waratah Apartments, Fred Tuckwell, accepts the award.

The 2019 Strata Community Environmental & Engagement was awarded to Waratah Apartments, Strata Plan 38936 for their commitment to reduce impact and preserve the environment as well as their engagement in the community in their strata.

Located in Sydney’s Potts Point district, Waratah Apartments is a lifestyle community completed in 1987. This Strata Scheme is self-managed and has implemented a significant number of building environmentally focused projects. Winning this award is a great acknowledgement of what has been achieved by the engaged committee of Waratah Apartments.

Fred Tuckwell who is the Strata Committee Chairman said that “we have been early adopters of sustainability schemes like the City of Sydney (CoS) Smart Green Apartments (SGA) program, the NABERs program and waste recycle programs”.

The Award also reflects the very strong engagement with owners and tenants that the strata committee has been working hard to achieve over the last couple of years: “we have worked to make sustainability part of our ethos” Fred said.

In contributing to a reduction in their environmental impact and to save costs, this strata scheme has implemented a number of projects the last 12-24 months, including:

  1. Lighting upgrade program: the LED replacement program in common property was progressively rolled out.
  2. SGA program: the scheme was very active with this program during the initial first year engagement. The actual projects that they have implemented include modernising the water pressure pump, replacing and/or reconfiguring inefficient fans, updating emergency lighting, planning to replace inefficient pool and spa heaters, and improving our recycling
  3. SUMS: they have continued to use their SUMs equipment, originally installed as part of the SGA program to monitor and help manage power and water efficiency.
  4. NABERs: this strata scheme strongly believes in the NABERs program as a measure of the environmental impact they have undertaken the assessment process and an expert group has been initiated to discuss and conduct a development plans for continuous improvement in ratings and therefore improving the environmental impacts over time.

According to Fred “our LED replacement program has saved an estimated $15,000 pa in energy costs, which translates directly to energy consumption and reducing the environmental impact and our SGA programs have saved or will save over $25,000 pa in energy cost”.

The scheme’s approach is to keep owner engagement high to provide a simple assessment and justification of projects, including taking advantage of the various rebate schemes that are available.

Environmental benefit plus cost saving is the simplest and easiest way to justify these projects and key to our approach, but we know you must be proactive to get everyone over the line” says Fred.

Over the years, exceptional relationships have been built with the City of Sydney as a result of working closely together to set-up various initiatives and projects to reduce environmental impact.

Being the only self-managed large scheme of the all nominated for this award was challenging but this is the best reward for all our community and an excellent way to communicate about our engagement toward sustainability and how to manage well cost savings.”

“You need to be genuine of our approach and in terms of cost savings by demonstrating what the savings were.”

A holistic approach of all the sustainability aspects seems to be a success-factor.

“We actively engage with our owners and have improved capability for and use of waste recycling, clothing recycling, collection of large household item and alternative transport to encourage the use of bicycles we have installed bicycle racks at convenient locations in the building.”

Congratulations to the Waratah Apartments.

Board Director profile: meet Peter Brisbane

Peter and the Strata One team winning the 2019 Strata Community Management Business – medium – award

Representing the Strata Manager Chapter, Peter Brisbane is excited to have been elected to the SCA (NSW) Board at the 2019 AGM. It is, as he says, an opportunity to give back to an industry which has enabled him to develop a career and his own business.

Peter has worked in the NSW strata sector since late 2000 developing his career to become licencee-in-charge of the agency he started in 2011, Strata One. Prior to that he worked in risk management for large companies.

Peter says he started in strata because he loves helping people and he loves property. This is still the case, however as his business has grown, his passion has become the mentoring of the Strata One team and developing systems/procedures to enhance his clients community living experience.

One of the highlights of Peter’s career was starting Strata One. Others include growing his team, winning the 2019 Strata Community Management Business (Medium) Award and now becoming a member of the SCA (NSW) Board.

As for the future of the strata industry, Peter sees the focus on two areas, licensing and building reforms.

On the education side he says the move towards and greater compliance will raise the bar in relation to professionalism of the industry as a whole. And this is a good thing as it secures the future of the industry as a good career move for those entering and already in the industry.

In relation to building reforms, Peter hopes the NSW Government gets the building reforms right and that this enables Strata Community Managers to assist their owners on the future maintenance management of their properties rather than focusing on defects.

When asked what advice he would give someone considering a career in strata or just entering the industry, Peter says just do it. He says strata is a great industry and it is only growing.

Peter believes to be a successful Strata Community Manager requires good time management skills, being proactive, sympathetic to owners when in need, understand basic accounting principles and a willingness to know a building with clear communication skills.

He says that companies are now seeing value in growing their team from within, so if you meet the key skills outlined, apply and you could be on track for a new career in strata.

Peter also wanted to highlight that you don’t have to be a Strata Community Manager to be a part of this industry as other key support areas such as Accounting/Compliant Specialists, Facility/Asset Managers also offer great career opportunities.

As to where Peter will be in ten years’ time? He says he has only just started and sees great development within our industry over the next ten years – something he’s keen to be a part of by ensuring he attracts smart people into strata careers.

Peter believes that with vertical communities becoming the norm, greater technology will become available to assist with communication and the Strata Community Managers’ input and experience will be key factors in making this type of living experience possible.

Strata One will be almost 20 years young by then too and that’s definitely something to celebrate.

 

 

2019 CHU Strata Community Awards – Essay Award winner: Anthony Votano

Anthony Votano receives the 2019 Essay Award from Rachel Lynn, SCA (NSW) General Manager

The winner of the 2019 SCA (NSW) CHU Strata Community Awards essay award, Anthony Votano, General Manager of Premier Strata submitted a creative and interesting story about his early day as a trainee strata manager and a particular terrifying experience collecting unpaid levies.

Anthony is a fan of the written word and although he has dabbled in the past in writing articles for strata publications, he felt it would be inspiring to write for a competition. “I was motivated to tell a story. Every strata manager has a multitude of experiences to share and sharing a story always seems to strike a chord with others in our remote industry.”

Winning the award actually meant a lot more than I thought it would. Being recognised for your written work is a major feel good and was an acknowledgement that people were genuinely interested in what I had to say “, he explained. Besides the positivity of being recognised by the industry Anthony said that he “was blown away by my children’s excitement in winning the award: my 18 year old daughter had given me advice on essay writing, while my 16 year old enjoyed my essay but didn’t understand it and my 11 year old was just excited that Dad won. Possibly the best feeling was my wife’s astonishment at me actually winning something”!

Circling back to Anthony’s narrative, the way that strata managers interact with their clients has changed a lot from when he commenced in the industry. For him, they work in a stressful and fast paced, ever-changing environment which demands immediate action to every problem. “The luxury of face to face communication has had to be scaled back from when I joined the industry in the pre-internet days.” By all means, owners appreciate a face to face meeting with their manager, but time tends to dictate everything in an industry that works on small margins but requires instant results.

According to Anthony, by creating relationships ‘in person and over the phone’ enable to make “sensory contact with the person, even if it is only through the sound of your voice”. An e-mail does not contain the sound, sight, or touch of the person you are dealing with. For that reason, when an issue becomes personal or serious it is best to pick up the phone. Anthony’s essay focussed on using empathy when collecting unpaid strata levies and he discussed his method being that prior to commencing any legal action, “I always ring the lot owner and discuss their situation in person. Through that phone call, I can generally tell a lot about the owner in arrears that an email would not disclose.”

His own piece of advice for the aspiring contestants of next year: Just do it! Humour is a constant part of my working day and life in general so I didn’t take the essay competition too seriously initially, this however changed as I got more serious about writing something that I would actually enjoy reading myself. I ended up injecting my humour into a serious topic while still getting the message across.

Meeting with the Building Services Commissioner

On Monday 16th December Chris Duggan, SCA (NSW) President, met with the NSW Building Commissioner David Chandler.

While we have met with the Commissioner a number of times previously, this meeting was organised by Alisha Fisher, SCA Australasia CEO to discuss the Building Manual; a joint SCA, Engineers Australia and WebFM initiative. It also follows a range of meetings in 2019 with other senior NSW Ministers and Government officials.

The discussion with the Commissioner focused on a number of Strata related matters, with two key points forming the basis of our conversation:

  • Professional Standards Scheme– The Commissioner was very engaged and pleased we had embarked on this process. He made it very clear that the expectation within Government was for the increase in professionalism for managing agents as trusted advisors to consumers. This cemented our resolve that the Standard is critical to our profession moving forward.
  • 2020 Strata Law Review– He was very clear of his expectation the duty of care owed to schemes by strata managers must be stepped up. We expect this to be a point of discussion in next year’s review.

We maintain a good working relationship with Commissioner Chandler and he continues to evolve as a key player in the strata landscape, with a potentially significant mandate to implement reform next year.

This reform is much needed and it is very encouraging to see that the Commissioner is now seeking the views of SCA (NSW) before the formulation and implementation of major policy.

We look forward to our ongoing discussions with the Government, Minister and Commissioner and we will maintain a vigilant advocatory persona to ensure that the Government is addressing the issues our industry is facing to benefit our members and all those who live in, own or work in Strata titled schemes.

SCA (NSW) believes communication and collaboration is more important than ever, and we will continue bringing about the next chapter in strata to the benefit of all involved.

Meetings with Minister for Customer Service

Over a series of meetings during November and December 2019, SCA (NSW) Vice President Stephen Brell met with the Minister for Customer Service, Victor Dominello, MP.

SCA (NSW) as a critical participant in a series of roundtable discussions which included experts and other key stakeholders from across the strata industry, to discuss the establishment of a Strata Portal.

The portal intends to:

  • Enable authenticated communication from Government agencies to owners corporations
  • Strengthen confidence in the integrity of the strata ownership model
  • Consolidate core information about the state’s 80,000 plus strata schemes in one place, to enable government to better support strata owners.

SCA (NSW) was instrumental in shaping the function and data for the Strata Portal, and the Minister was receptive, collaborative and engaging with our consultancy and recommendations.     Our involvement was integral and we were pleased to be part of such an expert think tank.

More information can be found here.
 

New licencing reforms from 2020

NSW Fair Trading has released information regarding the new licensing reforms that will take effect from 23 March 2020.

What you need to know:
For members with a Certificate of Registration, from 23 March 2020 your category will transition to Assistant Agent in Strata Management. Please note that this is a licensing category change, not a reflection on the role you perform. You will continue to be supervised by the Licensee-in-Charge (Class 1 licence holder). As an Assistant Agent in Strata Management, you can perform the following functions:

  • any function of an owners corporation
  • any function of an association

You cannot:

  • enter into an agency agreement or a franchising agreement
  • affix the seal of the owners corporation
  • authorise the withdrawal of money from the agency’s own trust account (you can still authorise withdrawals from a trust account held by the owners corporation)

From 23 March 2020, an Assistant Agent can still try to acquire new clients and arrange for an owners corporation to fill in an agency agreement, however, only a Class 2 or Class 1 Agent can sign and bind the agency to the agreement.

A certificate as an Assistant Agent is a one-off certificate issued for a period of 4 years. By the end of the 4 years, you must attain a Class 2 Strata Managing Agent licence. You can obtain this by

  • completing the Certificate IV in Strata Community Management (CPP40516) and
  • 12 months’ experience.

If you fail to obtain the Class 2 licence within this time, your certificate will lapse, and you will be unable to work as an Assistant Agent for a period of 12 months.   Please see following links to the ‘Recent Law Reforms’ page from NSW Fair Trading and a document from SCA (NSW) which highlights the changes in the licensing requirements post 23 March 2020:

Additional links provided below:

The new Residential Tenancies Regulation 2019 will also be implemented as of 23 March 2020. For more information click here.

SCA (NSW) has been working closely with NSW Fair Trading as part of the Real Estate Reference Group on the implementation of the reforms and part of the CPD subcommittee to create the guidelines around CPD and are in the forefront of topics to be delivered under the reforms.   We’re currently finalising a comprehensive suite of Compulsory and Elective CPD topics for our members. Please check back regularly to view new topic releases throughout 2020 via our education calendar.

SCA (NSW) is here to assist you. For inquiries and support please contact SCA (NSW) Education by emailing education.nsw@strata.community or contacting Syd Ince on 9492 8210.

SCA (NSW) gives evidence before a parliamentary inquiry

SCA (NSW) President, Chris Duggan has appeared before the Public Accountability Committee at the public hearing for the Inquiry into the Regulation of Building Standards, Building Quality and Building Disputes. A full copy of the day’s transcript is available online on the NSW Parliament website.

The SCA (NSW) seven-point plan, which was part of its submission to the inquiry, was tabled to the committee. Flammable cladding was discussed as well as a subset of wider defect issues that are currently plaguing NSW buildings. The evidence given focussed on the support for consumers within the industry and highlighted the need for certainty of process, products and outcomes.

The committee was cautioned around the release of the register of buildings affected by flammable cladding and it was recommended to them that releasing it be considered in terms of the content and the context of what awareness in the public domain would generate.

SCA (NSW) has concerns around the premature publication of that register and the impact, probably the enduring impact, on the value of those properties for some owners who may well have registered their scheme as a precaution.

SCA (NSW) advocates that there be a full need for disclosure to any affected stakeholders, whether they be owners, tenants or any third party in terms of government and others. However, there is still more work to be done to clarify the list.

New protections for off-the-plan buyers

Off-the-plan buyers now have better protections following the commencement of new laws from 1 December 2019.

The NSW Government now requires those selling new apartments off-the-plan to disclose more information. As well there are tighter requirements around cooling-off periods, holding deposits and sunset clauses. These come following a number of cases where buyers have been sold one thing and received something a lot different to what they were expecting.

The new laws provide the following protection for consumers:

  • provide buyers with key information about the development before contracts are signed, including copies of the proposed plan, proposed by-laws and a schedule of finishes
  • notify purchasers of material changes that they make
  • allow buyers to end the contract or claim compensation if they are impacted by the material changes
  • provide final registered plans at least 21 days before the buyer settles
  • extend the cooling-off period to 10 business days, with any deposit to be held in a controlled account until settlement.

For more information head to the Registrar General website.

New tram service starts in Sydney

On Saturday 14 December the long awaited Sydney Light Rail started taking passengers with over 160,000 people taking advantage of two fare free days to test the trams.

Passengers can now travel on trams along Sydney streets between Randwick and Circular Quay. The trams connect the Prince of Wales Hospital and University of NSW with the Moore Park sporting and entertainment precinct with Surry Hills, Central station, Chinatown and the CBD.

The start of passenger services on the CBD and South East Light Rail route was a historic occasion.

Transport for NSW is reminding people to ditch the distraction and look up to stay safe around light rail. Check out the latest safety advertisement here.

The L3 to Kingsford will open in March 2020.

Trial program for those in the Waverley Council area

Waverley Council is running a trial textile and e-waste collection and recovery from apartment complexes. Below is more information:

What’s the trial?
It’s a way for the Council’s waste team to determine how it can best support apartment blocks to recycle electronic waste and textiles (old clothing/linen etc) instead of it going to landfill. The Council is keen to work with a select number of strata buildings with 40+ apartments to pilot dedicated recycling services.

Snapshot of how it works:
Council will connect the Service Provider with yourself (or other delegated building contact, i.e. Building Manager) to conduct a site visit. The Service Provider will provide appropriate collection bins for textiles and e-waste, and discuss an appropriate servicing frequency of each stream. The buildings selected will be conditional – based on space and access requirements.

There is no cost to the building. It is based on a six month trial, with potential for extension if the program is successful.

What’s in it for you?
Better recycling services at your building for owners and tenants, the feel-good factor of knowing stuff is recycled and not adding to landfill.

Eligibility
Apartment complexes with 40+ apartments, within the Waverley Council LGA

Keen to know more and register interest?
Contact Amy Croucher – Sustainable Waste Officer, Environmental Sustainability   P: 02 9083 8041