BY: JOHN ATKINSON, SUNSHINE COAST GENERAL MANAGER
A few months ago, I was invited by a group of resident owners at a sizeable (105 lots) body corporate in Maroochydore, to discuss with them the possibility of SSKB taking over the management of their body corporate.
I have been with SSKB for over 7 years as a community manager and 5 as general manager of the Sunshine Coast Office. I am proud of what we do and how we do it. I spent an hour and a half explaining how we see the role of a community management company. I was reasonably persuasive, so with their support (and against the initial opposition of the incumbent committee) SSKB was appointed. Two months later we were selected to manage the adjoining commercial body corporate and also the building management group, which represents the shared interests of the residential and commercial bodies corporate.
Over the past three months, I have had the privilege of demonstrating to the committee and owners the processes we use and the standard of service that we regard as essential.
There are a number of benefits which SSKB has delivered, including communication, duty of care, agendas & minutes, staff education and attention to detail.
One of the main reasons a body corporate needs a community manager is to advise it on the legislation. This should involve volunteering information on a regular basis, and not just waiting until a crisis arises. The community manager has a crucial role to play in alerting the committee to its responsibilities with regard to the maintenance of common property, informing owners of issues of particular importance to them and encouraging lateral discussion within meetings so that the best possible outcomes are achieved. Owners should never be treated as if they are a nuisance or not worthy of detailed responses to their concerns.
We believe the community manager has a clear responsibility to remind committees of ensuring that Workplace Health and Safety, Fire Safety and Pool Safety Reports are obtained regularly and their recommendations acted upon. Equally, it is of particular importance that sinking fund forecasts and insurance valuations are current within legislative guidelines and engineer’s reports addressing building defects are obtained well before the expiration of the six and a quarter year period during which the developer/builder has a responsibility to redress any category 1 defects. Safety railings, wheelchair access areas and balustrades also need to be maintained in premium condition.
For a variety of reasons, the majority of owners in a body corporate are usually not able to attend meetings, but they still have a significant vested interest in their asset and have a right to vote issues of importance to them. It is of the utmost importance that the committee has informed budget discussions and the product of those discussions is fully exposed in the annual general meeting agenda. At the same time, all owners have a right to be informed of the development of proposals at a committee meeting and their progress through subsequent discussion. The minutes should be articulate, thorough and informative, but above all, they are the body corporate’s minutes, not the body corporate manager’s.
The minimum education standard for community managers is Certificate IV. However, at SSKB we have regular presentations from solicitors practicing in the field along with our specialists and contractors. We have an annual staff conference, bi-annual meetings of community managers and assistant community managers to compare notes and experiences. A newly appointed community manager will always have a senior community manager attend the first few meeting, and we have a wealth of knowledge within the company to draw on when the circumstances become particularly challenging.
Attention to detail is a key sign of how committed you are to what you do and how proud you are of your product. We all make mistakes, but if anything escapes through our checking and double-checking process, it is not for the lack of striving for the perfect result.
I can honestly say that I am proud of the company I work for – its staff, its standards, its procedures and its philosophy. The owners and committee of this body corporate have been appreciative of the benefits they have received. I would be pleased to provide contact details for anybody interested in speaking with the committee.