Community Managers and Building Managers: what’s the difference?
Property ownership and management can be complicated, but it can become even more difficult when a strata title or building management committee is involved. There are suddenly more people involved in the day-to-day management of your investment. Whether you’re an investor or a renter, you might know what a property manager does, but there are other managers that can be attached to certain building types as well, specifically community managers and building managers. But what’s the difference between a community manager and a building manager? And what do they actually do?
First and foremost, it’s important to note that community managers and building managers are only relevant for certain types of properties, typically those under strata titles (or similar arrangements), which we’ll discuss now.
What is a strata title?
A strata title generally means that the property is one of many in the same apartment complex/housing area, where there are shared facilities or areas (such as pathways, gardens, hallways, pools etc.). This is typically in properties that are across multiple storeys, such as apartment buildings. The strata committee is responsible for ensuring the maintenance of those areas. Part of the money that is paid to the strata or managing body is used for servicing and maintaining these common areas. Note that in estates or building developments (which may not be across multiple levels) where there are shared features, such as a driveway, sometimes this is referred to as a ‘community title’ and is managed by a body corporate. This could instead be a ‘building management committee’, which may be in place if there are mixed zones within the building (such as commercial and residential properties within the same complex). These bodies are typically funded through the collection of fees for these shared areas and resources, and perform tasks such as managing building or estate-wide issues.
The duties of these bodies can vary greatly based on need and location, but ultimately they are there to manage shared areas and shared obligations such as insurance. For the sake of this blog post, we’ll refer to these various types of bodies as ‘strata committees’, but it’s important to know that there are some subtle differences between management body types.
What is a Building Manager?
Building managers are responsible for dealing with the day-to-day running of properties. This includes being the main point of contact for tenants living in the property, and they’ll be the person organising tradespeople and repairs for properties within the building. In this way, they function like a property manager in a real estate company would—they organise repairs and handle minor issues. They can also be responsible for organising regular maintenance schedules and ensuring that required maintenance is carried out—one example of this may be smoke detector checks. They are often based on-site (in an office in the building) and work normal business hours, even though sometimes they are also a resident of the building.
What is a Community Manager?
Community managers, on the other hand, work with the strata committee, not individual tenants. They report to boards of directors and work as a sort of secretary and treasurer, assisting with various administrative, financial and legal tasks as stipulated by their position description.
Community managers are typically chosen by the board and as such their credentials should be assessed at the time they are engaged in the role.
How do they interact with each other?
Generally, community managers and building managers will have little to do with each other. Their work may overlap, however, if the board of directors gives an order for works to be undertaken, as it’s the building manager who will then see those works are undertaken. This includes organising the tradespeople to do the work, and notifying tenants and arranging appropriate notice and times for work to be undertaken. There will also be times when the building manager must report to the strata/building management committee, say for example if there are issues that are building-wide, such as problems with the plumbing.
If you’re renting, it’s unlikely that you’ll ever have much to do with your property’s community manager. You may also have little to do with the building manager unless there are maintenance issues that need to be addressed. Even then, it may be that you contact the property manager (i.e. the property agency that leased the property to you), who will contact the building manager on your behalf.
If, however, you are a property owner in a building that’s managed by a body corporate or a similar arrangement, then the community manager could potentially affect how it’s run, as will the entire strata committee. It’s best to read over your strata committee information carefully before purchasing a property, or have a professional look over it for you if you’re not sure.