Nationally, Strata Community Associations have been on the front foot from early in the pandemic with comprehensive guides, urging strata managers and committees to start taking steps to mitigate the increased costs as soon as possible.
With more people at home for extended periods, residential water and power consumption have spiked and so too has demand for waste collection services. In addition, cleaning costs of common areas like gyms and lifts have increased with more frequent cleaning.
It’s likely that even when the world comes through the worst of the COVID-19 crisis, the way we live, and work will have changed. More people will continue to work from home and that’s going to keep some pressure on the services required.
Head of Realmark’s Strata Management Team Karla Roche says in the future, strata managers could expect increased plumbing expenses and other infrastructure put under pressure because of ongoing increased loads.
She says it is essential to ensure responsible cash flow management for the long term but that could be more difficult. Some owners may be seeking financial relief from strata fees because they have lost their income.
“Some may request exemptions or deferments of levy payments and unless the Government provides some assistance or advice around this, the strata companies can only deal with these on a case-by-case,” she says.
“The combination of reduced owner incomes and increased building loads may mean strata treasurers have to review their budgets and defer non-essential expenditure.
“This may mean deferring special levies unless they relate directly to health and safety work and deferring non-essential maintenance to free up funds for the increased cleaning and waste management costs.”
Owner corporations can also consider taking out a strata loan to cover shortfalls.
Karla says despite the challenges there was no doubt the pandemic has bought out a lot of good in people – checking on neighbours for example and doing the shopping or cooking for an elderly resident.
She says nowhere is this more evident than in strata living which fosters a wonderful sense that we’re all in this together.