1. Know your building.
Compile a profile of the building from your inspections.
The strata inspection report gives you an idea of the personality of the building, who runs it, and whether the stewardship of the building is good, or mean and stingy. Minutes of meetings can also indicate whether there is infighting among the residents. This will be your home. You need to know.
The physical inspection tells you whether the building is in good shape or not. Are things looking a bit rundown? Are the carpets in the common areas tired or frayed? What may have to be spent to get the place up to speed?
2. If you live in a new building, it should be brought up to scratch as soon as possible.
Owners of apartments need to take proactive action against builders, developers and insurers in the first couple of years of the scheme to make sure that building defects are fixed early.
Otherwise it gets very costly, both in repairs and legal fees.
3. Know your by-laws.
Most of the rules for living in harmony with your neighbours are included in the by-laws of the block.
It’s too late to find out about keeping a cat, using the pool, or any of the important financial questions once you have signed on the dotted line. See FAQ’s.
4. Cheaper or better?
Beware of false economy when the Owners’ Corporation is arranging for work to be done. The cheapest way is not always the best way, and shoddy work now will only lead to more expense later.
Schemes with low strata fees seem attractive to potential buyers, but can indicate poor preparation for major repairs. This means that unsuspecting owners could be hit out of the blue with a special levy of several thousand dollars for major works.
Be wary of quotes for work, not only what they cost but what you get for the money.
Work out what advice is needed to address a problem, and find it. Advice on a single topic from a property lawyer, engineer or quantity surveyor doesn’t cost much and can save a fortune later on, especially if a botched job has to be rectified.
5. Get involved.
Take an active interest in what goes on in your building, attend the annual meeting so that your voice is heard and consider becoming a member of your building’s executive committee.
Only a minority of owners choose to be elected to the executive committee of the Owners’ Corporation with the onerous meeting and duties that membership can involve.
You can only profit by bringing your business, professional or personal skills to the Owners’ Corporation.
This allows some people to flout the rules and make life miserable for everyone else, often relying on the apathy and ignorance of other owners in the block.