Who is responsible for pruning trees on the property?
If the trees are common property, it is the owners corporation’s responsibility. If the trees are part of your lot – you are responsible, as the owner.
I want to use the garden area outside my unit just for myself, can I do this?
If it is part of your lot, yes. If it is common property, you will need to get the permission of the owners corporation. This usually requires a Common Property Rights by-law to be passed by special resolution (75% of members of the owners corporation have to vote for it) at a general meeting.
I want to park in a section of the driveway that’s common property. Can I get permission to do this?
Send a written request to the secretary or strata managing agent. Permission should then be voted on at a general or strata committee meeting.
Do I have to insure the contents of my strata unit?
While there is no obligation to do so, it is highly recommended that you take out adequate insurance on the contents of your unit. The insurance that the owners corporation organises covers the structure of the building and any fixtures inside lots (for example, sinks, baths, shower trays). However other contents such as your furniture, electrical appliances, curtains and carpets would not be covered. Owners can suffer major loss if their personal property is not insured in the event of a fire or through water damage. YOu will need to make your own enquiries with your insurance company to confirm what contents they will cover.
Owners corporation and by-laws
The owners corporation is made up of all the owners in the strata scheme. By-laws are made or changed to meet the needs of all owners and to assist with the running of the strata scheme. For more information on by-laws go to the By-laws in a strata scheme page.
What if I do not want to be part of the owner’s corporation. Can I manage my unit myself?
All owners are always members of the owners corporation. They have voting rights and obligations to pay levies and comply with by-laws. Owners cannot ‘resign’ from the owners corporation.
I want to get a dog. Do I need the owners corporation’s permission?
Someone is making a lot of noise and its disturbing my sleep. How do I get them to stop?
The best approach is to try to resolve the problem yourself, so talk to the person first. If that doesn’t work or, if you feel intimidated, you have two choices. You can ask the owners corporation to issue them with a “Notice to Comply with a By Law” then seek a fine if they keep breaching. Or you can apply for mediation through Fair Trading to have a mediator assist you to discuss the issue with them. For further information on By-Laws and the process when they are breached, read up on the Service NSW website here.
The people above me pulled up their carpet without permission of the owners corporation and put down a floating floor which is very noisy, what can I do?
Under the model by–laws that apply to most schemes, owners do not require permission to remove the carpet in their lot airspace. However the model by–laws require them to notify the owners corporation before proceeding. If a noise problem results, you can talk to them about it or ask the owners corporation to serve them with a Notice to Comply with a By–Law. If the unit is tenanted, you can usually take action against the owner seeking to have the floor carpeted or covered to reduce noise.
I am an owner – what meetings do I have to go to?
While it is not compulsory for any lot owner to attend owners corporation meetings, a strata scheme operates better if those concerned take an interest in its affairs. There is always an Annual General Meeting each year, this is when levies are set for the coming year and the strata committee is elected, is the only meeting required to be held by law. It is helpful if people are willing to make themselves available for election to the strata committee. Additional meetings that may be held are Extraordinary General Meetings and Strata Committee meetings.
I am a tenant – do I have to go to any meetings?
Tenants are not required to attend meetings and do not have voting rights. An owner could choose to give their tenant a proxy vote on the owner’s behalf.
How do I get to have a say in the meetings?
In order to speak and vote at meetings you need to be an owner. Your name needs to be on the Strata Roll and you also need to be up to date with payment of levies.
We discussed repairs to the garages at the last meeting and I thought we had made a decision, but then I got the minutes and it had been left out. What should I do?
Tell the secretary or strata managing agent. The minutes should then be amended. If they are not, the matter should be raised at the next meeting.
What can we do about people who refuse to attend meetings?
Encourage owners to get involved in the management of their scheme. However there is no requirement for them to attend and they can choose to stay uninvolved if they wish.
Is there a deadline for providing minutes?
Annual General Meeting minutes must be sent out with 14 days. Strata committee minutes must be sent to all owners within 7 days.
What is a Proxy Vote?
A proxy is where you authorise someone else to vote on your behalf when you are unable or choose not to attend a meeting.
Are there any circumstances when I cannot ask someone to act as a proxy for me?
You will not be able to use a proxy if your name is not on the strata roll or if your levies are not paid in full.
We spend half the meeting talking about a matter that was not even on the agenda and then people voted on it. Is this OK?
Only matters on the agenda can be voted on and resolved. Matters not on the agenda may be discussed, but would need to be put on the agenda for the next meeting for the matter to be voted on.
I asked the secretary to put an issue about parking on the agenda of the general meeting but it was not included. What should I do?
Seek to raise it at the meeting and ask again to put the motion on the agenda for the next meeting.
What is the difference between a special resolution and an unanimous resolution?
Both are votes required for certain motions at general meetings (not at strata committee meetings). A special resolution is where there must be at least 75% of owners in favour of the motion, based on unit entitlement. A unanimous resolution is where everyone votes for the motion. Note: Special Resolutions for Sustainability Infrastructure only require a quorum of 50%.
Does the chairperson have the deciding (casting) vote at any meetings?
No, there are no deciding votes at general meetings (includes AGM) or strata committee meetings.
Do we need a quorum to hold a meeting?
Yes. A quorum for a general meeting is 25% of people entitled to vote or owners who hold 25% or more of unit entitlement. A quorum for an strata committee meeting is at least 50% of the strata committee members.
How do I get elected to the strata committee?
The strata committee members are elected at the AGM. Your nomination must be submitted before or during the AGM. Any owner can nominate themselves. Owners can also nominate a non–owner as long as they do not nominate themselves as well. Co–owners may be nominated by another co–owner of their lot who is not standing for election, or by an owner of another lot. Note: Anyone nominated for election to the strata committee must disclose any financial, business or family connections they may have with the original owner or caretaker. After being elected, committee members must also disclose any financial, business or family connections they may develop with the original owner or caretaker.
Can I attend a strata committee meeting?
You can attend the meetings if you are an owner (or company nominee) but will need the permission of the strata committee to speak. You will not be able to vote.
Where does the money for repairs and maintenance of common property come from?
Levies must be raised to do repairs. A motion is put to a general meeting to raise levies to cover the cost of the work. The amount that needs to be paid by each owner is based on their unit entitlement.
I have filled out a maintenance form to get a repair done which is taking time. What should I do?
Speak to the secretary or the strata managing agent to find out how the matter is progressing. If you are a tenant, follow up with your managing agent.
Some of my possessions were in the garage and they have been damaged. Who is responsible?
The owner or occupier is responsible for things inside their lot. They may be able to claim on their own contents insurance policy.
The owners corporation keeps putting up the levies. What can I do?
Levies are decided at general meetings and must be discussed and accepted by a vote of the owners. You can vote against the increase or put up a motion for a different levy amount if you wish. A managing agent may put a motion for an increase in levies on the meeting agenda but cannot impose levies. Levies are normally only increased if there is a need to do new works or there are additional expenses. Ask why the increase is being made if you are not sure.
I did not get a levy notice so I have not paid anything for ages. Is this a problem?
Your levies must be paid whether or not you receive a notice. Unpaid levies mean you will not be able to vote at meetings. Make sure your current address is on the strata roll so you can receive notices of both levies and meetings. You can pay your levies any time up until a meeting starts, in order to be financial and therefore eligible to vote.
What can we do when people do not pay their levies?
The owners corporation can impose a charge of 10% simple interest for levies not paid within 1 month of their due date. The owners corporation can also take debt recovery action.
Why do we need to have a Capital Works Fund Forecast?
All buildings need to be maintained regularly to retain their value and stop minor damage and deterioration becoming major problems. Developing a 10–year Capital Works Fund Forecast means that future repairs and maintenance are anticipated well in advance. The owners corporation can then agree on the best way to raise levies to cover these future costs.
How much influence do we have over the managing agent?
The managing agent is the employee of the owners corporation. They can offer advice and direction, but final authority lies with the owners corporation.
Who is the committee and what do they do?
The body corporate must elect a committee at each annual general meeting. The committee is made up of lot owners or people who act for them.
The committee is in charge of:
the administrative and day-to-day running of the body corporate
making decisions on behalf of the body corporate
putting the lawful decisions of the body corporate into place.
The committee can make decisions by calling a committee meeting or by voting outside a committee meeting.
In most cases, a committee must have at least 3 members. The maximum number of committee members for schemes with 7 or more lots is 7. If there are less than 7 lots, the maximum is the same as the number of lots.
The committee will usually include a chairperson, secretary and treasurer (known as the executive positions). A person may hold all or any 2 executive positions.
When will the Body Corporate hold the AGM?
The Body Corporate has a statutory obligation to convene the AGM within 3 months of the end of the Bodies Corporate financial year. The meeting notice must also be provided to all lot owners 21 days prior to the meeting date.
What are By Laws?
By-laws are a set of rules that a body corporate makes to control and manage:
the common property
body corporate assets
services and facilities provided by the body corporate
I want to make an improvement to my lot eg install hard flooring, install an air conditioner or renovate the kitchen. What do I need to do?
You need to make application to the Body Corporate to seek their approval. Applications are required in writing addressed to the committee of your body corporate c/- SMS. It’s important that you submit all plans, specifications and details about the proposed improvement. The application will be tabled and considered at the next committee meeting. You should also read your by-laws for any requirements specific to your building. Some application will need to be tabled at a general meeting and the committee, through SMS, will advise you if that is applicable to your application.
I want to get a dog. Do I need to get the Bodies Corporate permission?
You must first check the by laws of your Body Corporate to determine what the rules are surrounding animals in your building. In most cases you will need to seek permission from the Body Corporate. There is an application form available on the SMS website that you can complete and submit.
Someone in my building is continually making excessive noise, having parties and disrupting my sleep. What can I do?
Most Bodies Corporate have a by law regarding noise and the right for all occupants to have the peaceful enjoyment of their lot. Whilst its apparent that someone may in fact be breaching this by law; the quickest way to achieve an immediate resolution is to contact the local police and report the disturbance as a civil matter. Its equally as important to then report the matter in writing to your Body Corporate committee c/- SMS. The committee can then consider the report and take appropriate action through the breach of by law process.
I recently had quite complicated issue that needed resolving, Lauren was nothing short of amazing, she listened to my circumstances and went well out of her way to help me out.
i can't recommend, Lauren and SMS strata services enough, great people and a pleasure to deal with!
03:13 11 Jul 23
I worked with SMS Coffs Harbour for 15 years and always found them friendly , helpful , reliable and always paid promptly for services rendered . (On a weird side note , my name is not Derek Fletcher , a name Google has given me and i don't know how to change it. My real name - thanks to my Hungarian father-is Daniel Flesch. If it was Fletcher i wouldn't have had to spend my life spelling my surname and hearing all the jokes )read more
09:10 14 Oct 22
Very helpful and professional. Their job is difficult and demanding but they have been great managers and also they bring decades of experience. Very happy.
21:56 11 Oct 22
We highly recommend the team at SMS Coffs Harbour, who have been our strata managers for over a decade. They have a broad knowledge and experience of strata issues, enabling them to provide support in a consistently prompt and professional manner. Thanks Kara, Jen and Jess.
Creek Tower Executive Committee
08:48 14 Sep 22
Great organisation for strata managing my investment property. Very professional and prompt replies to queries etc. Thank you :)
03:56 24 May 21
Easy to deal with and always get the work organized and done when it needs doing good to see our money being managed the way it should be.
23:46 05 Apr 21
The current body of SMS are the 4th appointment of Strata Manager for our complex. That is since 2010 when I moved in.
After many thousands of our funds negligently mismanaged by previous appointments, earlier incarnation of SMS including, we believe that a current version of SMS has produced a promise of calm waters for us.
As explained in recommendations by satisfied investment owners,
current team at SMS has paid attention to all valid complaints and have activated an improvement schedule.
From experiences so far, our Strata Committee has unfettered access to our Strata Manager and is a deciding factor in pressing for best outcome in determining our affairs.
We hope to continue this new understanding between Strata Committee
and SMS management; and reinforce Fair Trading Department guidelines.read more
05:13 17 Mar 21
My experience with SMS Strata Management Group, Coffs Harbour, NSW, has been a very delightful and productive, receiving quote requests from SMS Strata Management Group, their quick response to quotes sent to them, and invoice payments for work done, have been quick and easy.
David K Smith
19:03 08 Mar 21
I have dealt with SMS for many years but have seen a significant positive improvement in the service levels and offering from SMS in the last 12 months.
Having a seasoned General Manager and highly experienced staff are crucial to the successful management of our strata plan. It’s reassuring to have
such a solid, well established company taking care of our needs. They truly put clients first….. well done team.read more
01:04 09 Jan 20
Very friendly staff , always customer focused, i would recommend SMS strata to any one requiring strata management for their business or investment properties. We deal with them on a day to day basis as one of there trade services and always here great feedback from there clients. Keep up the great work SMS teamread more
05:39 17 Oct 19
We have 2 investment properties in Coffs Harbour that have been managed by Andrew for the past 5 years. Whilst we have always been happy with Andrew, in recent months, and especially following our dealings with Kara, there has been a dramatic increase in the service levels and offerings from the SMS team. In comparison to the service we receive from a much larger Strata manager in Sydney, SMS are leaps and bounds ahead and we would highly recommend them.read more
02:09 19 Sep 19
SMS knows the true meaning of customer service. They provide regular flyers about all aspects of strata which are extremely beneficial. We can now do our meetings with online voting and their client portal is a wealth of information!! Congratulations to SMS on their new website too.......it's so easy to find things!
It's comforting to be involved with a company that has such an experienced, proactive and friendly team. They have been looking after my strata property on the Mid North for many many years and I would have no hesitation in recommending them. Well done guys :)read more
01:28 19 Sep 19
Quiet picnic grounds, near water
03:23 31 Aug 19
I have an investment property that is managed by SMS. Always find the staff polite and friendly and willing to assist me when I need help.
22:30 04 May 19
They have been very helpful and listen to enquiries , maintenance issues always get priority. Thank you