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This month, Higgins have provided 5 tips on how to ensure you live in a peaceful, cohesive complex.

You know what they say, happy tenants = happy strata manager. It went something like that, right? Even if we’re a little unsure of that saying, we know for sure that happy owners and residents are engaged in the community; they turn up to AGM meetings; and when things go wrong, they are willing to trust you to come up with a strata management solution.

And keeping owners and residents happy is easier – and cheaper – than you think. By doing just a little work upfront, you can build relationships on transparency and trust, and ensure owners turn up to the next general meeting looking forward to what you have to say!

Here are 5 ways to keep your owners and residents happy – and all at no additional expense to the body corporate.

1. Deal with disputes quickly and diplomatically

Handling disputes is undoubtedly one of the least pleasant aspects of a Strata Manager’s job, but it is an important one – after all, no one wants to live in an environment seething with resentment and hostility.

That’s why resolving disputes is key – and learning how to resolve them with aplomb will be sure to win the hearts and minds of your owners, making them feel secure in the knowledge that you’ve got things well under control.  

Here are a few tips for dealing with disputes:

  • Familiarise yourself with the law: Often, disputes can arise because of disagreements with decisions made by the body corporate. For example, if a body corporate denies an owner’s renovation request, that owner would understandably not be too happy. In events like this, it’s good to have a firm handle on the legalities governing the decision. In Queensland, for example, the Body Corporate and Community Management Act 1997 requires a body corporate to “act reasonably” in making a decision – by understanding what exactly what this means and communicating this to the committee, you may be able to head off any poor decisions or disagreements before they are escalated to a tribunal. 
  • Be diplomatic: Communication is always the first recourse when it comes to dispute resolution, and being highly mindful about your communication techniques can help nip things in the bud before they start to escalate. Choose your words carefully, try to put yourself in the shoes of the person you’re talking to and keep the conversation positive. 
  • Escalate the issue as necessary: While it’s always better to resolve things internally, unfortunately that is not always possible. If the issue continues, it may be time to escalate the issue to the necessary authorities. For example, if you have a tenant who habitually breaks by-laws, even after being made aware of the issue, be sure to follow these steps to find a strata management solution that will help:
    • Serve the tenant with a notice to comply
    • If the behaviour continues, seek for a mediation with the relevant tribunal
    • If mediation fails, make an application to the relevant tribunal 

2. Don’t be a stranger

So many of your already know this but the simple act of making yourself known to the owners and residents goes a long way, as it opens up the lines of communication, and helps build relationships that foster trust. Top tips we received from some of our strata experts are to:

  • Introduce yourself personally to any new tenants or owners: This makes people feel welcome, and lets them know there is someone who can lend a helping hand should they need it.
  • Keep notes for each owner on file: This helps you keep track of any salient details and previous conversations, so you can easily pick up where you left off next time.
  • Keep on top of any ad hoc requests: Set the owner’s or resident’s expectations about when they can expect to hear back, and be sure to keep on top of it until it has been adequately resolved. Remember, regular communication is key.
  • Send out a quarterly newsletter: This could cover everything from information relating to the local area or council, changes or upgrades to surrounding infrastructure, market updates including recent sales, updates on the building’s condition; including body corporate related maintenance and repairs, and reminders for upcoming body corporate fees that might be approaching. Not only does this help keep owners informed, it also demonstrates you’re across all matters relating to the strata.

3. Find ways to save the body corporate money and reduce strata levies 

Finding easy ways to save the body corporate money will definitely win you a lot of brownie points with the owners – after all, what owner wouldn’t be ecstatic about having more in the coffers?

Here are a few money-saving recommendations for body corporate:

  • Set a limit for major spending: While big financial decisions will still need to be taken to general meetings, setting a lower limit gives the body corporate more flexibility in dealing with smaller, day-to-day matters – and this means less money and time invested in postage, printing and holding meetings.
  • In the next AGM agenda, include a statutory motion authorising the body corporate committee to renew insurance policies before the next AGM: This ensures policies are renewed in a timely manner without the need of a costly general meeting. We have put together a great guide on this to help if you’d like to read it.
  • Send notices, minutes and other documents via email: This will again result in reducing postage, printing and stationery costs.

4. Find ways to boost the value of the property

While you are, as Strata Manager, responsible for keeping the property in working order, proactively looking for ways to boost the value of the strata property will show that you are willing to go the extra mile for owners – and who wouldn’t be happy about that?

Here are a couple of ideas for value-boosting projects you might want to suggest at the next meeting:

  • Give the interiors and exteriors a facelift: There’s nothing like a fresh coat of paint or a new carpet to give the property a whole new lease on life.
  • Upgrade property features: Upgrading the property’s features, such as a new entry door, instantly makes the property feel much more modern.
  • Make the property more sustainable: Sustainable properties are not only kinder to the environment and more desirable to residents, but they also help save money in the long term by reducing energy costs.

5. Perform proactive maintenance

proactive maintenance approach not only ensures the property looks its best year round, but it also reduces costs in the long term, helps prevent any unexpected large withdrawals from the sinking fund, and helps avoid major disruptions – all of which makes for happy owners and residents!

Do you know what else makes owners and residents happy? A superbly run AGM. To make sure your next AGM is a breeze, check out The must-have guide for a super-effective annual general meeting. Download it now!

Higgins Coatings is Australia’s premier commercial painting contractor with over 65 years of experience in providing a cost-effective painting service and tailored maintenance solution. As the preferred painting contractor for the Strata Community Association (SCA), we help strata managers plan their painting requirements and execute them with minimal disruption to residents. Contact us for a consultation.