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The ofďŹ cial newsletter of Unit Owners Association QLD

NOVEMBER 2011 MARCH 2011

VIOLENCE, INTIMIDATION, AND BULLYING. Plus see inside The Conclusion of Little Lottie Page 3 Led lighting breakthrough Page 4 Off the Plan sales Page 8

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Quick News

The Scary Adventures of Little Lottie, The Lot Owner

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A modern Fairytale

Brisbane

P 3220 0959 or www.uoaq.org.au and request to communicate to a particular person Sue Ekert, Bob Boundy, Elle Young, Paul Cassels. Published by Unit Owners Association QLD Editor Paul Cassels

“The Mystery of the Vanishing Capital Value”

Gold Coast

Wayne Stevens, Greg Carroll, Roger Dearing

Art Direction

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The Final Chapter The next day, Lottie confidently strode into a local real estate agent’s office and asked to list her apartment for sale at a 40% increase on her purchase price. The agent began laughing uproariously and between his guffaws managed to say, “Honey, you’d be lucky to sell it for a 40% capital loss! Who would be stupid enough to buy an apartment in

a building that has just extended the caretaking agreement with escalating costs for another 10 years?!!!” Then he turned and yelled out to the other people in the office that little Lottie had just said the funniest thing. He repeated Lottie’s request and pretty soon every agent was rolling on the floor, clutching their sides, with tears streaming down their cheeks. Lottie slunk away dejectedly and trudged all the way home. Lottie was so worried about the escalating costs of apartment living that she felt sick. Her dream of owning her own home had become a nightmare…an unsustainable situation. Lottie logged on to Seek.com and Easyroommate.com. She had to find a second job and a flat mate. She also remembered that Coles currently had a special on baked beans…she would go down later and buy several cartons. No champagne for her. A few weeks later, Lottie noticed a big removalist van in the car park packed to the brim. Abruptly, Mr. Con and Kruella climbed into the cab. As they drove away, Lottie was sure she heard cackling laughter. On the back of the van was a hand-painted sign that said…“SO LONG SUCKERS!”

The End or is it

CTS Management Suite 35, Level 6. “Northpoint” 231 North Quay Brisbane QLD 4000 Telephone 07 3211 4445 Fax 07 3211 4410 Mobile 0419 741 066 Email coralie.mott@ctsm.com.au www.ctsm.com.au

From the Editor

Coralie Mott

(BA Dip Ed, Cert IV in BCM)

Director and Body Corporate Manager

yourstratamanagement.com.au

Unit Owners Association QLD

Help for Members

Members of the UOAQ are welcome to contact committee members of the association for any help on any body corporate matter.

Disclaimer

Articles contributed to this newsletter are published as a service to members and do not necessarily reflect the opinion or policy of this Association. To contact the committee of the UOAQ for assistance with a body corporate matter please e-mail help@uoaq.org.au

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Paul Cassels

Getting prepared for Christmas and the festive season can be exciting.

But for some unit owners it can be a lonely and sad time. It has come to the attention of the UOAQ that a real problem exists in CTS schemes in Queensland. Bullying, Intimidation and violence against Unit Owners. Both men

UnitNews Online November 2011

and women are being made to feel unsafe in their own homes. A support group has been formed called Supporting Women In Strata Living (SWISL). If any owner of a Unit would like to contact the UOAQ to contact the Group please ring or e-mail, the contact details are 3220 0959 (Tuesday to Thursday from 10 am till 2.00pm) or e-mail to help@ uoaq.org.au all contact will remain confidential. You will be contacted by a SWISL representative to follow up and meet if necessary.

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Quick News females live alone and of the total number of over-75 females, almost half (47.7%) were living alone. It has also been projected that in 2021, between 20%-24% of people living alone will be older Australians (aged 75 years and over) and of these, three-quarters will be women. (ABS (Australian Bureau of Statistics) 2006, Household and Family Projections, Australia, 1996 to 2021, (3236.0), ABS, Canberra)

There is no doubt that Australia has an ageing population. Nor is there any doubt that strata-living is actively encouraged by all levels of government. Given the numerous factors which influence a person’s choice of residence, including affordability, life style and a sense of community, many people are choosing to buy into unit complexes, particularly if planning to live alone. Unit owners believe that they will immediately belong to a ready-made community where everyone is treated with respect and fairness. The truth is sometimes not so. Many unit dwellers are women. Some are younger women with the economic autonomy to secure a foothold in the property market. Some are single parent families. Some are older women who, through divorce, separation or the death of a partner, find themselves living alone in an apartment. The 2001 census shows that a staggering 23.3% of over-50

Recently, a number of women contacting the UOAQ helpline have expressed feelings of fear and trepidation because they live in strata-titled buildings, not in spite of it. Credible reports of disturbing incidences of intimidation and violence against this vulnerable sector of the community have escalated. If you are a woman who has likewise been targeted by any person associated with your strata-titled scheme, please contact the UOAQ info line on 07 3220 0959 or email help@uoaq.org.au and the UOAQ will put you in contact with a newly-established support group, SWISL. (Supporting Women in Strata Living). SWISL aims to provide support and information which may assist in matters affecting the peaceful enjoyment of your home and property. Regardless of whether you live alone or with family or a partner, any woman who has been threatened or intimidated in any way because she lives in a strata-titled scheme should contact SWISL. While SWISL advocates on behalf of women, men are also welcome to contact SWISL if they need assistance.

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Led lighting breakthrough new tube lights launched substitutes for fluorescent lighting A number of buildings are currently experimenting with LED lighting. This includes residential apartment buildings. Some Owners Committees will be encouraged that OSRAM & Philips have launched LED tube light products in recent weeks & these are available in Australia. For more information on these products just do a Google search. LED lighting refers to “light emitting diode” or solid state lighting. The attraction of LED lighting is its dramatically lower power consumption and extended useful life compared to other lighting technologies. The new OSRAM & Phillips LED tubes are designed as a substitute for the ubiquitous standard fluorescent tube, often called T8’s. This is a breakthrough event, as large Owners Corporations/ Community Title Schemes often run large numbers of fluorescents tubes in basement garages & similar localities. These fluorescent tubes are often always on, or almost always on, so if energy savings can be made, there is potential for it to be significant. • •

The “Philips Master LED TUBE” (1200mm) claims a life of 30,000 hours and is 22 Watts The “Osram SubstiTUBE” (1200mm) claims a life of up to 50,000 hours and is 24 Watts (& comes with a three year waranty).

Committees will be having another look at this in light of the mooted carbon tax, ... if some sectors receive rebates to offset the cost of carbon tax its a fair bet that Community Title Schemes will get overlooked! The exciting thing about these new products is, to date, the LED Tube products that have been available in Australia

For the layperson doing your financial analysis about the benefits of LED Tubes gets very messy, for example; • Standard fluorescent tubes will often be attributed a life of 10,000 hours,but some fluorescent tube products claim a useful life of much greater than this. •

LED light Wattage will often be compared to fluorescents of 36 Watts plus ballast overhead of 11 watts ... but most fluorescent installations will have a lower overhead, but usually total usage will be 40 Watts plus.

• The maintenance cost overhead is invariably a guesstimate. 4

UnitNews Online November 2011

are mostly “unbranded” product from Asia and come with warranties that are of dubious worth. Indeed there are reports of apartments having bad experiences with this product. Owners Committees will now be prepared to give this area a second look now there is product available provided by recognizable global brands. Both OSRAM & Philips claim their new LED light tubes can result in all up energy savings of 50%. The other big area of saving is in maintenance. Many apartments will pay a electrician to maintain and replace their existing fluorescent tubes because maintenance of these lights includes replacing the starter component and also replacing the ballast component from time to time. The LED tubes require no such maintenance - when they require to be replaced they can be changed just as you would change a standard household globe. The long life of LED lights also means high level of “convenience” as the task of replacing tubes in hard to get at locations is dramatically reduced. There is a long list of secondary benefits of using LED lighting which include; • • • • • • •

No catastrophic failure - LED’s most fail by dimming over time rather than the abrupt failure of other technologies. LED’s light up very quickly and useful life is not impaired by frequent on/off cycles. No flicker! Solid state technology means the units are very shock resistant unlike other lighting units which are very fragile. Very little heat generation which can help lower air conditioning costs. No ultra violet emissions - insects & bugs are not attracted to this lighting. Unlike fluorescents free of mercury & similar elements so no issues with disposal.

These LED tubes are much more expensive than a fluorescent tube so its really a question of looking at the total cost of ownership or similar types of financial analysis. It is possible that the arithmetic looks very positive, both Osram & Philips claim a potential 2 year pay back, but of course every case is unique. There is also the strategic view about where energy costs are likely to go. If your Committee can see energy costs rising fasting than the general rate of inflation this might be the justification to look very closely at LED tube lighting. For those large apartment buildings with many fluorescent lights it may be a clever move just to trial a few of each brand of the new LED tubes just to see how things go while the Committee keeps a wary eye on the annual energy cost increases!

uoaq.org.au


Feature Story

Sustainablity Questions The seeming drive to construct more & more apartments in Brisbane is perplexing. The worry is that current product drive for smaller & more budget style product will eventually discredit the larger apartment market. Brisbane City seems to have goal to create greater population density within the CBD, inner ring suburbs & selected hubs like Chermside & Upper Mount Gravatt, but at some point there seems to be a real risk this will all unravel unless there is a complete rethink about;

of freeing up funds for retirement. There may also be other factors at play in the apartment market.

• Strata Title legislation and related Governance issues.

Some real estate salespeople report that some first time apartment owners/ occupiers are now expressing disenchantment with governance issues & others in the retirement age area are now realizing they cannot support Body Corporate Levies into the future. This is driving the older and wiser budget conscious apartment owner/occupier into smaller low thrills complexes, with no Caretaker/Building Managers or “add-on” facilities. This translates into levies of $1200 to $1,500 per annum compared to $4,000 and more in “full service” apartment arrangements!

Recent press articles report some 7,000 plus apartments under construction or on the drawing board. At the same time industry insiders are reporting interstate or overseas buyers are driving most of the off-plan sales. If correct, the absence of local buyers is surely some sort of warning signal and gives rise to the question is just what proportion of the population want to live in apartments and is the drive for more apartment style living sustainable as it is currently presented.

There are some reports of buyers in the baby boomer category complaining about the lack of suitable housing to meet their needs. The ideal property is often described along the following lines; low maintenance townhouse style accommodation with small garden area, with sufficient bedrooms for visiting friends & family & also a home office, ... looking to possible health eventualities they want at least one bedroom to be on the ground level, ... and preferably a freehold title!

There are certainly headwinds, as we are in an environment where “trading down” & de-leveraging is the norm. Baby boomers have certainly had a wake up call as their Super Funds have taken hits & so their “trading down” is perhaps not only driven by the empty nester scenario, but also the necessity

It is not entirely surprising therefore that the Grattan Institute ( http://www.grattan. edu.au/pub_page/090_report_cities. html ) has identified in some research conducted in Sydney & Melbourne that semi-detached dwellings is an area where there is a potential real undersupply both in terms of existing building

• The type of dwellings created and their context.

Graphic Design, Branding and Identity danhancock.com.au uoaq.org.au

stock and known new building supply. The Grattan Institute Report makes the point in its interesting report that what buyers are looking for in a property is fairly predictable, but its research focused on “realities such as current housing costs and ... (buyer) income” and its analysis zeroed in on housing needs after respondents considered their financial position and made the expected real life “trade-offs between size and type of housing, and its location”. Dwelling features may not be quite as important as some imagine in this complex interplay. The Report suggests; • Where children are part of the household dwelling features are relatively important. • Lone person households are focused on locational factors. • Older households tend to be focused on local area factors like close to friends & family. Notwithstanding the above, the Report highlighted the importance for most buyers of inside space. It is questionable how successful the current trend in Brisbane of apartment projects containing large numbers of ever more miniature one & two bedrooms units. The Grattan Institute raises significant issues. What remains to be seen will Brisbane & other jurisdictions be driven by what Councils & Developers want to provide or will there be a real response to buyer needs?

ORIENTATED { WEBRESULTS DESIGN & MARKETING }

www.stickybeakmedia.com.au November 2011 UnitNews Online

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Feature Story

Frances Asks .. with Frances Ronnfeldt

Frances Ronnfeldt, a Brisbane based Body Corporate Manager hits the pavement to see just how much the general public knows about Body Corporate.

Hartley’s Body Corporate Management ‘Looking after all your Body Corporate Needs’

This months’s QUESTIONWhy am I responsible for maintenance and not the Body Corporate? It is a common misconception of unit/townhouse owners to believe that anything outside of the boundary walls of their lot is a Body Corporate responsibility to maintain. I have listed below a few examples of when it is the Owners responsibility to maintainStandard Format PlansBuildings registered as a Standard Format Plan (previously Group Title Plans) may include a townhouse complex, in most cases the individual lots would comprise a building and land i.e. front and/or back courtyards, the courtyards are included on the title and are owned by the owner of the lot. In this instance Owners are generally responsible for • their lot, including all lawns and gardens within the boundary; • the maintenance of the building including the exterior walls, doors, windows and roof; • building foundations where the foundation is for a single lot; • and the painting of the lot with consideration to the bylaws and any reference to the appearance of the building. Exclusive use areas An exclusive-use by-law for a community titles scheme is a by-law that attaches to a lot included in the scheme, and gives the resident of the lot exclusive use to that part of common property. Therefore the actual land is owned by the Body Corporate.

3379 7455 ■ Financial Management ■ Agendas & Meetings ■ Administration of your Scheme ■ Maintenance ■ Dispute Resolution ■ Compliance

This means that it is the obligation of the occupier to maintain that part of common property. However in some circumstances there can be a specific condition in the bylaw for the maintenance to remain the responsibility of the body corporate. I cannot stress enough how important it is to search the Body Corporate records prior to purchasing and be aware of exactly what you are and are not responsible for maintaining and repairing.

yourstratamanagement.com.au

COMMUNITY LIVING SOLUTIONS Reducing Costs & Increasing Value for Unit Owners

PROUD SUPPORTER OF UOAQ www.hartleysbodycorporate.com.au 6

UnitNews Online November 2011

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The 6 Step Process to Developing the Best KPIs

Manager not doing their Job? Issue a Remedial Action Notice! Many Body Corporate schemes have faced the unpleasant and often stressful situation of having to deal with a caretaking service contractor or letting agent (collectively referred to as onsite or resident manager) that is either underperforming or simply not complying with the terms and conditions of their management agreements.

the Act, the regulation Module or the agreement, the action required to be undertaken by the Resident Manager to remedy the non compliance, the period in which the service contractor has to carry out the remedial action and a statement saying the Body Corporate may terminate the management agreement if the Resident Manager fails to comply with the RAN.

The relevant regulation module under the Body Corporate and Community Management Act for the Scheme prescribes a process to follow in the event that a resident manager does not comply with his/her obligations under the Act, Regulation Module or Agreement with the Body Corporate. Essentially a Body Corporate must issue a Remedial Action Notice (RAN) for non compliance on the part of a Resident Manager.

A RAN may be issued in circumstances where the service contractor has failed to carry out their duties under their agreement, engaged in behaviour amounting to misconduct, or is grossly negligent in the carrying out of their duties under the engagement, or they have contravened the code of conduct

Under the relevant regulation module for the scheme, a Body Corporate may terminate its agreement with the resident manager if the Resident Manager fails to comply with a RAN issued by the Body Corporate. The RAN is a written notice that should detail the grounds the Body Corporate believes the service contractor has breached

If used properly, a RAN can be a cost efficient method of either causing a Resident Manager to comply with their obligations to the Body Corporate or risk the termination of their agreement. The above is for discussion purposes only and not intended to be relied upon as legal advice. A lot owner or body corporate should seek specific legal advice in relation to any issues. If you have a matter you would like to discuss please contact our office on 07 3393 0433.

Strata Info & Services Management Rights | Levy Collection | Dispute Resolution Community Management Statements | Review of By-laws Establishment of Schemes | Construction Defects Lot Entitlement Disputes | Exclusive Use Conveyancing

Search strata information Share your thoughts and experiences Ask questions Find strata specialsts Our online community forum lets you search for answers to common questions and share your views about the daily challenges within strata.

BODY CORPORATE MATTERS? ENGAGE THE BODY CORPORATE LAWYERS

T: 07 3393 0433

F: 07 3393 0533

mail@herdlaw.com.au www.herdlaw.com.au

To join the conversation or to search for strata information go to

www.livinginstrata.com.au

CONSUMER PROTECTION FOR UNIT OWNERS uoaq.org.au

November 2011 UnitNews Online

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Feature Story

Off the Plan sales Proposed extension to statutory sunset date for off the plan sales – Warning do not buy OFF PLAN The Criminal and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2011 (Qld) (Bill) was introduced in Parliament on 13 October 2011 and includes a proposed amendment to the Land Sales Act 1984 (Qld) (Act) to extend the maximum possible sunset date for off-the-plan lot contracts to 5½ years. The Bill is yet to be passed but if passed will be good news for developers. Current position The current Act provides a statutory right for an ‘off the plan’ unit purchaser

to terminate the contract if title is not given to a purchaser by a sunset date of 3 ½ years from when the contract is entered into. Developers can seek Ministerial approval to extend the statutory 3½ year sunset period for a particular development but only up to a maximum of 5½ years. The extension process is time consuming and can take 6 months or more to process adding costs to the development. The delays can result in uncertainty for developers, particularly where the extension is required to secure project finance. Proposed amendment The proposed new provisions (once commenced) will effectively allow developers to specify a contractual

sunset date for off-the-plan contracts of up to 5 ½ years rather than 3 ½ years. If no time frame is stipulated in a contract, a default period of 3 ½ years will apply. Practical effect If this Bill is passed, developers can specify the extended sunset date of 5 ½ years in off-the-plan contracts and will no longer be burdened with the cumbersome time consuming administrative process of extending the statutory sunset date from 3½ years to up to 5 ½ years. Potentially developers will be able to enter into off-the-plan contracts earlier in the development stages given the extended period to effect settlement.

12 Times A monthly publication with informative UOAQ activities and lifestyle articles. Find out more

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UnitNews Online November 2011

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UOAQ - Become a Member Today!

Xclaimbox have your say As a unit owner, the other day when I was pondering my future and unit portfolio, I came across an interesting website. It made me think that there is more to planning just financial success, but also what happens to the ones we love after we are gone. Xclaimbox.com answered my question by offering the ability to send messages/emails and videos into the future, even after you have passed on. It may seem a little morbid but if you think about it, you will not have a second chance to say something to someone when it is absolutely too late, if you know what I mean. Too have the time to think about what you really want to tell people, write it down and have it delivered after you have passed on, leaves a lot of possibilities open. I have been able to leave messages to my wife for anniversaries, birthdays and just to say how much I loved her for many years into the future. Apart from the security of having our unit and our memories that are attached to it, she or vice versa, me, will also receive messages or videos at pre set dates throughout the course of years to come. In my mind this is a blessing and a comforting aspect of the website. The site says, “Say it before its too late” and that is exactly what I did. You never know what is around the corner, as we all know with changes that the council has implemented have occurred over the past years. In all cases it is better to be prepared in advance rather than when it is too late.

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For Professional, Friendly assistance and quotes call

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XclaimboX!.com “Say it Before It’s Too Late” rings very true to each and everyone of us. Now, with an XclaimboX subscription you can leave messages, videos and your legacy to your loved ones and friends, even after you are long gone. We never know what each day may bring and it is far bette prepared, than not.

Visit www.xclaimbox.com and remember “It’s Never Too Late With XclaimboX” When you sign up, simply enter the code UOAQ to receive a $10.00 discount.

BRISBANE - GOLD COAST - REDCLIFFE Continued from Last Issue Working with owners to create happy, healthy and harmonious communities.

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The official magazine of Unit Owners Association Queensland

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