Clear communication is the key to a healthy strata community


As any good relationship counselor will tell you, clear and open communication is the key to a successful relationship. After all, how can you keep your significant other happy when you don’t know what they expect of you, or if you don’t even realise that you are upsetting them? In any relationship, a clear and mutual understanding of expectations and a mature approach to dealing with problems or tensions is required.

A strata community is a network of relationships, and the committee has an important role to play in making sure clear communication exists within those relationships by encouraging it between owners, and exemplifying it in their dealings with the building manager.

Committee Communication with Building Managers

Given that most owners have minimal involvement in owners corporation affairs, a successful relationship between the committee and the building manager is critical for the health of a owners corporation community.

Communication between building managers and committees is essential to maintain productive relationships and avoid dissatisfaction between both parties. In this relationship, a clearly defined and articulated set of expectations is necessary to ensure both parties can work effectively together for the strata community.

A good idea to help encourage communication and set the stage for success is for the parties to sit down and go through some basic questions:

  1. Do the committee and the building manager have a mechanism for progress reports during the year? Is this mechanism working effectively?
  2. Is an annual formal review of performance done? This is a common feature of most other relationships of service.
  3. What are the KPIs used in performing the review, and were these agreed between the building manager and the committee at the start of the year?
  4. How is the feedback from that review provided to both the building manager and the owners? Is this a constructive process?
  5. How are the follow-up actions documented after the review?

There is no one-size-fits-all approach to creating the perfect relationship between building managers and committees, but establishing clear expectations and maintaining accountability through open and reasonable communication is a good start.

Communication between Owners and Committee Members

Committee members may need to encourage clear and open communication between owners, and ensure the same approach is adopted for communication between committee members and owners.

It is incredible how often tensions rise to unhappy levels where the parties in dispute or disagreement have not communicated with each other about the issue. In some situations, communication may solve the problem completely. For example, an owner may be unaware their habits are causing headaches for another owner, and a polite request may be all that is required to solve the issue.

If your committee is aware of problems between owners, suggest the aggrieved owner consider the following points:

  1. Is this a matter within the jurisdiction of a different authority – ie Police in the event of a party or noise issue, Local Council or Fire Authority?
  2. Is this within the authority of the Body Corporate committee?
  3. Do you have a proposed solution for the matter?

For complex issues, communication may not resolve the problem but it can shed light on why the issue has arisen. For example, an owner may be behind in levies because they have been made redundant, or an owner is opposing proposed landscaping outside their lot as close proximity to flowers and pollen upsets their allergies.

The best decisions can only be made by the committee when the most information is available. Communication is the only way to uncover all pertinent information, and committees should encourage it to ensure maximum harmony is achieved in the strata community.

 

 



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