Columns
Residents' Association Image

Residents' Association

An election is upon us …
Read more >>

Business in Southbank Image

Business in Southbank

Sell now or wait? COVID-19 – supply and demand imbalance
Read more >>

St Johns Southgate Image

St Johns Southgate

“You’re on mute!”
Read more >>

Owners Corporation Law Image

Owners Corporation Law

The future of apartment living - post COVID-19
Read more >>

Montague Community Alliance Image

Montague Community Alliance

Voting creates your future …
Read more >>

Chinese

绿党承诺建高架公园
Read more >>

Metro Tunnel

Metro Tunnel reaches halfway milestone
Read more >>

Owners' Corporation Management

Why it pays to be neighbourly in a strata building
Read more >>

Federal Politics Image

Federal Politics

Why Magnitsky Act is important for Australia
Read more >>

We Live Here Image

We Live Here

Short-stays will endanger COVID recovery
Read more >>

Southbanker Image

Southbanker

A Green-minded Southbanker
Read more >>

Port Places

Fishermans Bend: the first quarter 2019
Read more >>

Housing Image

Housing

Housing vulnerable Australians means making tough choices
Read more >>

History Image

History

Dancing at the Troc!
Read more >>

Safety and Security

Bicycle security and safety
Read more >>

Southbank Sustainability Group Image

Southbank Sustainability Group

Something extra to be happy about
Read more >>

Health and Wellbeing Image

Health and Wellbeing

Gaslighting in relationships
Read more >>

Skypad Living Image

Skypad Living

Making residential living a council election priority
Read more >>

Pets Corner Image

Pets Corner

Spoiling princess Chloe
Read more >>

Southbank Fashion Image

Southbank Fashion

Spring racing in Southbank
Read more >>

Street Smarts Image

Street Smarts

Power Street – Southbank
Read more >>

Letters Image

Letters

What’s behind the lights?
Read more >>

Owners’ Corporation Law

06 Oct 2020

The future of apartment living - post COVID-19

By Tom Bacon - Principal, Strata Title Lawyers

We’ve all spent far too much time over the winter months holed up in our apartments working at home, educating at home and living at home.

Home has become our lives, and perhaps not for the better. And so, as spring thaws on our winter of discontent, and as restrictions ease somewhat, it is perhaps time to re-think what we need from our apartments and our common areas and facilities, and from the service we get from our facilities’ managers.

At the very top of the list for the committees of owners’ corporations (OC) has got to be some serious budgetary reform. Without exception, every single service contract has to be renegotiated in order to deliver value for money.

Having acted for OCs for more than 10 years all around Australia, I have said it before and I’ll say it again, Victoria is by far the worst state for overinflated service contracts. I have never seen such largesse in any other state or territory. Five-year OC manager contracts, 10-year cleaning contracts, 20 -ear embedded network agreements, 25-year caretaker agreements. The list goes on.

No other state or territory permits this. Of course, the fault lies with Consumer Affairs Victoria for failing to regulate this. They have known about the issue for many years, and have done nothing to bring about reform.

Be that as it may, it is now up to OCs to investigate all possible options to escape these contracts. Most will be completely unenforceable, and many more will have been void ab initio. OCs could begin to take charge of their finances and repair the great holes in their budgets, only once they have renegotiated these contracts.

The next step for OCs is to think creatively. It appears that a very high number of OCs have deferred their remedial works, painting, and internal upgrades contracts indefinitely, in order to undertake budget reform. While this seems sensible and practical for most buildings, some buildings could actually take the opportunity of the very-quiet economic conditions and could decide to undertake their planned projects (or bring them forward) if they can negotiate very good deals with contractors (who will no doubt be desperate for the work).

Now could also be the time to discuss with your contractors about a re-deployment of services. Perhaps less hours from security or the concierge is required, and the cleaning contractors can be re-deployed to provide more hours to dedicate to extra cleaning.

There may even be some possibilities for the rooftop and unused facades to be used for signage and telecommunications antennae to derive extra income for the building.

Of course, there are only limited opportunities for a building to make costs savings. The fixed costs are sometimes too difficult to move. But if you don’t try, you’ll never know •

 

Stay in touch with Southbank. Subscribe to FREE monthly e-Newspaper.

You must be registered with Southbank Local News to be able to post comments.
To register, please click here.