University of Tasmania
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Multi-owned housing governance : owner committees and strata managers

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posted on 2023-05-26, 18:08 authored by Altmann, E
In Australia, the strata mechanism is used with increasing frequency by developers as the primary method for division of real property assets and on-sale of individual property lots. Any land that falls within the strata scheme but outside the individually owned lots is termed the common property. Individual lot owners have right of access and use of the common property. They are also legally tied to the common property and responsible for its maintenance. To facilitate the maintenance, upkeep, access and use, a committee of management is required. While some research has been undertaken into strata issues within the states of Queensland and New South Wales, little is known of the Victorian or Tasmanian context. Fewer studies still concentrate on the committee of management and their interaction with strata managers, even within the international sphere. The privatised governance structures within apartment and townhouse developments have evolved into complex organisations that make consequential decisions that affect property owners. This thesis examines the growth of the strata industry and the influence that strata managers have over committees of management. Issues of trust, participation, openness and transparency in this contractual relationship are investigated. The thesis also investigates the links that strata managers have with developers and how this shapes the owner corporation. While the growth in strata titled properties can be understood as a legal or planning issue, this thesis seeks to contribute to our understanding of how these non-profit organisations, relying on volunteer labour, are managed as part of a shareholder democracy. Within the Australian context, the owner corporation is shaped and constrained by wider society through the taxation system and wider economic context. The thesis also looks critically at the organisations‚ÄövÑvº capacity to govern by drawing on qualitative interviews with strata managers and committees of management. This approach highlights the strengths and weaknesses of externally sourced, contractual help within the strata environment. The thesis considers the implications of this empirical, sociologically informed approach for studying strata title. Theoretical insights were gained through the application of structuration theory in order to investigate the actions taken by different stakeholders, and the reflexive monitoring that occurs within strata organisations. The power plays (and therefore conflict) identified in the interviews are then investigated further through using the concepts of coercive, mimetic and normative forms of isomorphism employed by new institutionalists. This thesis demonstrates that developers have a great deal of influence on committees of management through their role in establishing these organisations, but that managers exercise agency while working within these structures. The thesis also advances some policy recommendations for the strata industry suggested by the empirical research. These include the need to address the lack of purchaser knowledge; the need for owners, strata managers and committees of management to understand trust, conflict and training issues; the need to address the complexities of upgrading buildings particularly where environmentally sustainable retrofitting occurs; and the need to understand the impact of various tenancy types on the functioning of the owner corporation.


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Copyright 2014 the Author

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