Question: After calling our new strata management company for information, I have personally been charged a sum. Until the invoice is paid, I am unfinancial. Are strata management companies authorised to act as a “debt collector” for the owners corporation?
Answer: No, the strata manager is not authorised to act as “debt” collector. Write to the strata manager and ask them for the legal basis upon which they are entitled to on-charge their costs.
While we have not reviewed the relevant strata management agency agreement, there is likely to be a line item which empowers the strata company to charge the owners corporation per phone call on a timed basis.
As for the owners corporation on-charging you, in the absence of a by-law or other agreement from you, it is unclear on what legal basis the owners corporation is doing so. You should check the by-laws applicable to your scheme to ascertain the existence of such a by-law (such by-laws are not uncommon).
So you can challenge the legal basis upon which they on-charge you and refuse to pay and take it further eg mediation etc or simply pay to ensure your financial status. You are correct in your understanding that whilst a smallish charge, if they are legally charging you, failure to pay renders you unfinancial and prevents you from being nominated/appointed to the strata committee and disentitles you to vote on all resolutions (other than unanimous resolutions).
Are strata management companies authorised to act as a “debt collector” for the owners corporation? No, the strata manager is not authorised to act as “debt” collector in the absence of clear authorisation eg by way of a by-law or other agreement in place. Most by-laws recover moneys owed to the Owners Corporation as debts due ie through the normal debt recovery channels eg local court.
Please note that this article is provided for information purposes only and is not a substitute for professional legal advice.