When phrases like the Manhattanisation of Melbourne enter the argot, you know that apartment investments and dwellings have gone mainstream, writes Melbourne owners corporation specialist, Ben Willox.
With around 31,000 apartments completed since 2012*, Melbourne’s position as the Australian leader in unit development and community living continues. With it comes a range of issues that more traditional home owners don’t face.
First among equals is the level—or lack—of service apartment owners and occupiers receive when addressing the increasingly complex requirements of owners corporation (OC) compliance.
Legislation and regulations mushroom
As the trend towards community living accelerates, particularly in the Melbourne CBD, city fringe and inner suburbs, legislative and regulatory demands have mushroomed too.
In Victoria, the Owners Corporations Act 2006 sets out the rights and responsibilities of owners of a property or properties in a community housing setting. The act is designed to provide a regulatory framework and guidance for what used to be known as the body corporate. At 122 pages long, it’s not exactly bedside reading.
These days, most multi-residential building owners and occupiers employ an owners corporation manager. This is usually a company set up specifically to provide services for the management of common facilities and assets.
Finding the right OC manager
Finding and keeping the right OC manager is no easy task. Our own firm pioneered body corporate/owners corporation management services more than 40 years ago. Since then, the proliferation of apartments and multi-residential buildings has seen the OC services sector explode.
What then should apartment owners look for in an owners corporation manager to best represent their interests and those of their fellow owners?
As importantly, how can that manager add investment value to the asset as a whole?
With no formal personal qualifications required, barriers to entry into the owners corporations services business are relatively low.
Firms themselves must at a minimum be registered with the Business Licensing Authority. While there are no other formal qualifications required, the better firms have stringent training and continuing professional development programs under the auspices of bodies such as Strata Community Australia (SCA) and Real Estate Institute of Victoria (REIV).
What not to ask
What’s the most important question not to ask—and the answer many OC managers bafflingly boast as a strength: How big is your organization and how many buildings or lots do you manage?
Size doesn’t equate to efficiency. In fact, it can spell the reverse.
Rather ask: What is the ratio of lots to each of your Portfolio Managers—the people who actually do the owners corporation work?
Assuming the talent of the Portfolio Managers in different firms is of an equal standard, the lower the ratio, the higher the level of service.
Ben Willox is Managing Director at Turnbull Cook, one of Melbourne’s oldest and most experienced owners corporation service provider. For a free downloadable e-report on the top tips for finding and hiring a great OC manager, visit www.turnbullcook.com.au/top10tips
* Source: Charter Keck Cramer, reported in Property Observer