Seminar: Safeguarding Your Apartment Investment & Making the Most of Your Funds | Owners Corporation Network

Seminar: Safeguarding Your Apartment Investment & Making the Most of Your Funds

Opening remarks

Stephen Goddard opened the seminar by briefly outlining who OCN is and what OCN does. OCN, he said, is the only community-based group in Australia representing owner’s corporations and their members. He reminded the audience of the need for a group such as OCN, namely the limited consumer rights of purchasers of property.

OCN is the peak body for apartment owners, making representations to government on issues concerning owner’s corporations.

The future of large apartment living - the developer’s perspective

In this talk, Sylvia Hrovatin (Walker Corporation) started by describing how apartment living is now regarded as a viable way of living in Australia. The focus of her talk was on large strata schemes of 100 apartments or more. She indicated that developers are changing their attitude inasmuch as they have realised that they are selling not just an apartment but a life-style. This means they need to be interested in governance of strata schemes. In so doing, she argued that developers have a shared vision with purchasers in that both wanted open and transparent governance that was financially stable and harmonious.

To achieve this end she put forward the view that there was a need for professional people to run large strata schemes having a role not unlike that of asset managers and she advised “don’t contemplate the idea of part-timers being involved”. She suggested that within this “vision” of professional strata management was also the idea that strata management could be likened to a 4th tier of government, becoming increasingly involved in community activities and carrying political weight.

Are short-term rentals and serviced apartments ruining your building - and how can you stamp them out?

Peter Stavely (Tourism & Transport Forum) started by describing the black market which is operating in Sydney whereby residential apartments are being used, illegally, for short term rentals. Peter pointed out that this activity interferes with both the market for hoteliers as well as the residential market. Undermining the market is but one problem. Others include lack of adequate amenities, disquiet for residents and safety issues, as well as the potential for reflecting poorly on Australia as a tourist destination because of poor accomodation. Peter emphasised the need for further control by councils, concluding with the observation that “the price of liberty is eternal vigilance”.

Mark Kelly (Sydney City Council) provided a council’s perspective on this issue indicating that, typically, council can only help when there has been a breach of the development application. Otherwise, many of the issues that are associated with short lets (e.g. overuse of facilities, garbage, nosie etc) can be regulated by the owners corporation, through bylaws.

He provided several informative examples of how owners corporations may manage short-let problems such as placing conditions on the building managers contract limiting certain activities and provided an example of a notice issued by council aimed at limiting bill posting.

Making your savings work for you

Maria Linders (Linders Corporation) gave a succinct and informative account of strata levies: why pay them, how to pay them and what they can be used for.

Maria's presentation: text

Rex Wood used some straightforward conservative calculations to show that in a 3 year old strata scheme, consisting of 100 lots, the value of the sinking fund would be $137 million assuming 40% of levies were put into the sinking fund. With this amount of money, he argued, it is well worth investigating how best to invest (albeit within the constraints imposed by current legislation regarding sinking fund assets). In particular, he stressed the value of engaging a personal banker, saying that such a service would be provided to a private investor as a matter of routine.

About the speakers

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What Members Say

"The whole strata community owes a huge debt of gratitude to you and the OCN executive. Much appreciated."

Robert, Darlinghurst

"I am very pleased with my membership of OCN, the discussions through sharing emails is very valuable in increasing my knowledge of strata living, the laws and EC responsibilities. I think I am better armed to tread the minefield of the managing agent responsibilities and the necessary action of the EC to monitor the contradictory interests of the agent."

Jim, Wollstonecraft

"I so appreciate being part of the OCN email forum. It provides a great opportunity for sharing ideas and learning"

Ingrid, Neutral Bay

"I must say that I have enjoyed and found consolation in the discussions that have been part of the email chain (forum). I did attend one general meeting and found that it was informative and the people "running the show" were knowledgeable and dedicated to the tasks that had taken on. In short, well done. You and the committee have and continue to support the Strata Community in a very professional manner."

Greg, Parramatta

"Nothing is easy in Strata World and we have been in building defects “mode” for some years – hopefully almost at an end but that process has been most demanding and difficult but again – greatly helped by the experience and wise counsel of other members of OCN."

Pat, St Leonards

"Keep up the good work, as many (if not most) strata schemes need your help, advice and representation at all levels of government."

Jann and John, St Ives

"I belong to OCN because of its professionalism.  I have found the meetings I have been to extremely well presented, to the point, and of course very topical and informative. Speakers on the whole certainly know their topic.  My role of Secretary last year was certainly assisted with the coverage regarding TPG & other subjects. Member newsletters are also of benefit as the topics are specific to strata matters."

Graham, East Balmain

I have enjoyed attending the quarterly OCN meetings and the exchange of emails between other Executive Committee Members and think OCN is playing an increasingly important role as a voice for strata dwellers and representing us at Government level. I wish the organisation continuing success in the future."

Pauline, Kings Cross

"The [forum] response to my question was amazing and really useful.  The OCN community is wonderful so thanks."

Jenny, Killara

"I would like to thank you all for the important effort that you are all putting in to look after apartment owners and tenants. It is so valuable and you are heroes. I would not have been able to deal with my duties as a strata chairman without your advice and assistance." 

Angela, Mascot

"The OCN is invaluable – many thanks."

Bill, Surry Hills

"OCN is proving invaluable"

Sue, Neutral Bay

"Thanks to all at OCN for your continuing efforts to keep us up to date with current strata information and has been very helpful to us"

Kate, Coogee

"When my wife & I first encountered a problematic Executive Committee I heard that OCN was a great help (from a Strata manager whom I knew) so we both joined and have gratefully used the on-line information sources. We continued to happily rely on OCN’s assistance when we progressed to Committee status & later as Chair & Secretary of our Committee. I still use OCN in my current role as Treasurer."

Peter, Chiswick

"Thanks to OCN for being such a rich resource of trustworthy information about strata matters."

Peter, Chiswick

"I wanted to extend my personal thanks for the very informative & interesting event today. The OCN team did an outstanding job in the organisation of this event & I enjoyed it thoroughly. The quality of speakers, the flow of conversation & interaction from the attendees - first class …& of course, the amazing Jimmy T - always a delight."

Sue, Epping

"OCN does a great job in providing a really valuable service to Strata owners."

Lois, Wollongong

"I am sure my appreciation of your good works is echoed by many in the Stratasphere. Keep up the good work."

John, Elizabeth Bay

"The OCN is probably one of the best, most informed and most informative groups I have been involved with."

Alan, Maryville

"Once again, being able to discuss such things through this forum, helps clear the mind, puts things into perspective and helps one to understand their rights and to form a strategy if needs be. As a simple EC member trying to do what is in the best interests of lot owners, I truly value OCN and am grateful."

Pamela, Point Lookout