property manager
Property managers act as the intermediary between tenants and landlords, as Wouter Jellema explains. Image – Canva.
  • The roles of property and strata managers often get confused
  • Property managers work for owners and those leasing their property - primarily investors and tenants
  • Strata managers work for the owners of the strata company - they don't communicate with tenants

Property managers and strata managers both manage properties, and because of this, stakeholders often get confused about their roles within real estate transactions. In this article, I review their roles and show where they differ from each other.

The principal(s)

Probably the essential difference is explained by who the real estate professionals work for daily.

Property managers report to the owner(s) of independent private property and manage the land owned by their clients.

Strata managers work for all the owners of the strata company and follow all the owners’ instructions, usually by way of voting. The owners can appoint a council that represents them during the year, and the strata manager can get faster decisions from this team of representatives.

Furthermore, where a property manager is a middle person between landlords and their tenants, strata managers are not. Strata managers shouldn’t communicate with the tenants, as they are not their stakeholders.

In contrast, property managers attend to the parties’ relationship of those who entered into a lease agreement. Building maintenance of the leased area that their principal owns can be part of that.

In short, strata managers maintain the common areas of a property, whereas property managers manage the relationships of the parties to a lease agreement.

The Acts

Real estate professionals deal with many rules, regulations, acts, and so forth, and property managers and strata managers must comply with privacy laws, consumer protection laws and so on.

However, you can find the difference between the two practices by looking at the primary rules that apply to them.

Residential property managers refer to the residential tenancies act, and retail properties managers refer to the Retail Tenancies Act. Strata managers look at the strata by-laws, which can be generic or specific to the strata company they manage.

Qualifications, registrations, and training

Being a strata manager is a challenging, time-consuming, and difficult job.

There is not one strata company that is the same as another.

There are always different groups of owners, other areas, different types of conflicts, diverse communities, various by-laws, building conditions, resident mix, and so forth.

In the amended Strata Titles Act, which came into effect in May 2020, the requirements of a strata manager have become very similar to those of a property manager or sales agent.

However, currently, strata managers do not require to complete a registration course (yet).

On the contrary, property managers have to complete the registration.

Many leading professionals within the industry expect that in the future, also strata managers will need to complete a registration course to continue their profession within the real estate industry.

REIWA already recommends that Strata owners review the qualifications of a potential Strata Manager when they are looking at appointing one.

REIWA President Damian Collins wrote the following in an article in May 2021: “Many REIWA agencies that manage strata properties will employ staff who have completed the requirements to be a registered property manager,” Mr Collins explained.

“Having completed the registration course will give them a good understanding of many of the obligations and skills required to manage a strata property successfully.”

Damian Collins, REIWA President

If a Strata Manager wants to be a REIWA member, they will be required to complete the annual CPD points courses, just like property managers do.

However, property managers must complete their points to keep their registration current and avoid fines issued by the Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety (DMIRS). This requirement does not apply to strata managers at the moment.

An example…

A property manager assisted a tenant of a commercial strata unit who uses the property for warehousing.

The tenant complained about third parties parking in their bays and asked if we could repaint them so that it becomes clear that those bays are for the exclusive use of the occupant of the private property that they lease from their landlord.

The Strata Title shows that those bays are provided for the exclusive use of the lot owner (or its lessees).

However, the bays are still part of the common area and, as a result, fall under the responsibility of the strata company. The property manager contacted the Strata Manager and asked her to forward the tenant’s request to the Council of Owners and report on the outcome to assist the tenant. Once approved, The Strata Manager will then engage with painters to organise the works.

As you can see, strata Managers and property Managers work closely together but have different roles in the transactions. Managing tenancies in strata can go very smoothly when both professionals do their part. When communication fails, frustration can result, making the situation hard to control.

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