New service navigates strata world
A new reporting service has become available in Victoria for people either living in or thinking of buying into an owners’ corporation/strata community.
Set up late last year by experts Jane Giacobbe and Nirosha Diassanayake, Strata Reports Victoria fills a desperate need for information about buildings held by owners’ corporation/strata managers.
Ms Giacobbe explained that in NSW and Queensland, it has become standard for purchasers to protect themselves by commissioning a full strata inspection report.
“In Victoria, an OC certificate is provided but this gives little more than the bare bones of a building’s story,” she said. “If someone is going to do due diligence they really need to dig further than that.”
“But you have to know what you are looking for and where to find it,” she said.
With more than 30 years in the strata industry, the business partners know exactly what’s there and, importantly, what’s missing.
“In other states it’s standard practice for a purchaser to engage a strata inspection report as part of their due diligence,” Ms Giacobbe said. “But people in Victoria just don’t know about this service.”
“For a purchaser, they’re managing risk from a financial sense. They want to know if anything is coming up that hasn’t been noted in the OC certificate. Or they could equally find out some great things about the building.”
“For an existing owner, it gives them an opportunity to explore the records and find out everything they can about their building. They may not have the time and resources to do this themselves.”
But there are also limitations to what Strata Reports Victoria can give clients.
Ms Giacobbe said: “We can’t give advice. We can only give factual information. Importantly, our reports will also highlight what’s not there.”
“They will learn if there’s anything that restricts them in regard to the building itself. What their lot liabilities and entitlements are and how this affects their voting rights. Are there special rules? Are there any building works or changes in the wings? Has there been a building valuation recently carried out and does the building’s insured amount match the most recent valuation amount?”
“And a building may not have a complete set of records, but it’s better to find that out straight away so it can be rectified.”
When asked about cladding and building defects, Ms Giacobbe said: “We couldn’t make any comment about materials such as cladding or building defects. But we can identify if there had been a report relating to such an issue and make a note that the purchaser may like to speak further with the owners’ corporation manager and obtain a copy of the report,” she said
There are two standard reports – an Essentials Report, going back three years, and a Comprehensive Report, which would cover six years of a building’s archive.
Ms Giacobbe spent most of her strata management career in NSW.
She saw a gap in the local market when she moved to Victoria eight years ago.
After speaking with numerous owners and committees and referencing research carried out by academics, it was clear that there was a desperate need and concern for the information held on behalf of owners corporations to be transparent and made available for all owners and prospective purchasers.
“Speaking with owners, I started to realise they were buying into these strata communities without any knowledge of what they had bought into,” she said. “There’s certainly room for education.”
“I’ve seen people experience a lot of financial loss, stress and anxiety fundamentally through lack of understanding.”
“We are driven to ensure that all members of an owners’ corporation have the relevant information and tools to allow them to make astute and informed decision, which will see their investment grow and help create a harmonious community lifestyle.”