We feel our strata fees are very high, we’d really like your opinion, comments and any resolutions you may offer. – Lynne & Chris, NSW

We are the owners of a unit in this complex of about 31 units. We feel the Strata fees are very high. We also own another two units, all of which are in close proximity to the sea. The committee say they have to allow for salt water damage, rust, wear and tear etc. but so do the others!

Is there any way you could look at the fees etc and try to ascertain why they are so high? I have asked this question at the AGM and received the reply, “well you tell us how to run the Body Corporate with less fees.” It’s almost impossible to join or change the committee as they say they only want a few select people on it. By laws say they can have up to nine.

There have been a couple of nominations over the last few years but the chairperson said he ‘would not be on the Committee if they elected this new man as I do not know him’.

It’s difficult to do much when our unit is tenanted and we do not get to know the other owners. Most on the Committee are owner occupiers.

They have only had the financial books audited once, i.e. last year with the new legislation. We’d really like your opinion and comments on the above and any resolutions you may offer.

– Lynne & Chris, NSW

Hello Lynne, unfortunately even with all the details you have provided about the building, this will not be sufficient to ascertain as to why the levies are high in your opinion. Levies depend on costs such as insurance, strata agency agreements, day to day repairs and maintenance and the big expenses in the sinking fund.

Before each AGM is held, the expenses from the last year are sent out, and the new budget proposed. We suggest you take a look at this information in depth to evaluate where the expenses lie, and if you have any questions then bring them up at the meeting. This is the only way you will really be able to identify where the money is being spent and why the levies are at the specified rate.

Regarding the number of committee members allowed on the strata committee, yes nine is the maximum number of members, however the owners may agree to a smaller number, and do not have to have nine. The only way to get new members on the committee is to vote them there, the owners are responsible for this decision and do not have to abide by what the chairman says.

After nominations are taken for the committee, the owners vote on the number of members they want. If six nominations are received and the owners propose an amendment of number or members i.e. five members, this must be seconded by another owner and a vote can be taken by owners to vote for their five members. The members with majority vote are then elected on the committee. This can also be done by secret ballot to avoid any bullying by owners.