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An Owners Corporation’s response to dealing with COVID-19

An Owners Corporation’s response to dealing with COVID-19
An Owners Corporation’s response to dealing with COVID-19

OPINION:

The Coronavirus pandemic is like nothing experienced before on a global scale. How we respond to the outbreak and how we work together to keep informed and react to this situation is vital. For us in strata management there are unique challenges in keeping people safe who live in strata communities and for those who service our communities such as cleaners, waste collectors and maintenance staff. Knowing that people may be losing their incomes due to job losses also presents challenges in financial security of an Owners Corporation.

As an Owners Corporation Management business, we should understand that people in strata communities are looking to their managers for leadership, professional direction and comfort, knowing they are doing all they can. We need to take our role seriously and reassess our responsibilities daily. Regular communication is important, including direct communications with owners and building managers, updates on websites and posts to social media to help provide clarity and comfort to all stakeholders.

Specific strategies which can be implemented include:

Protecting the Safety of Strata Managers

To protect the safety of strata managers, many Owners Corporation Managers have ceased personal visits to buildings and rely on their teams of cleaners and contractors to erect signs and ensure all cleaning and maintenance of common areas is carried out with increased hygiene and safety. These teams have also been relied upon to close common areas where required. Managers then need to supply a full explanation to tenants so there is no misunderstanding of the actions being taken. People who are well-informed of what is happening prevent any confusion.

COVID-19 Information Portal

A COVID-19 specific portal can be created with essential information people may be looking for with regards to their community and their own personal welfare. This portal can be updated regularly with new information as it becomes available and can be shared through social media channels. Information may include guides for committees and residents, how to run strata meetings, the changes which can be implemented into managing buildings during this time, cash flow and financial risks plus links to the various Government Assistance Packages people and businesses are able to access.

Communicating with Owners and Property Managers

Communicating directly with Owners and Property Managers through personal email should be essential. These communications may include updates on what is happening with the spread of the Coronavirus, what is happening within their strata community and actions the Owners Corporation are taking to manage and help overcome challenges that may lay ahead.

Cashflow Stress Testing

Modeling of potential scenarios ensures that responding to all possible outcomes is considered. This may be in the form of a cash flow stress test. This involves possible scenarios where levies may not be paid by up to 30% of owners. What is discretionary and non-discretionary spending and will the budget still support what is essential. Services such as carpet cleaning and window cleaning services may be considered as discretionary spending and paused through this time.

Keeping up to date with Government Directives and Advice

There are plenty of resources and information being shared by the state and federal governments daily. Keeping well informed and gaining information from reputable sources is important.

Resources include:

Strata Community Association

There has been highly relevant information, specifically directed at the impact to the strata title industry coming from Strata Community Association (Victoria) and Strata Community Association (National) who have both released information on a regular basis. Resources have included the following:

  • Community Safety Posters
  • Building Manager Services Guidelines
  • Victorian State of Emergency Post Update
  • Guide for Committees
  • Guide for Residents
  • Communications to Residents

Finally, the most important message for all strata managers is to keep communicating. People become anxious or annoyed when they don’t know what is happening. This is an unsettling time for everyone. By keeping owners, tenants, building managers, service suppliers and other stakeholders informed, this should result in limited confusion and even some form of comfort in knowing the managers of their Owners Corporation care.

Bryan Phillips

Bryan Phillips

Having spent 10 years in financial services and wealth management, Bryan Phillips joined Tideways in 2014, bringing a strong work ethic and desire to help build a customer focused business.

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