.Strata Manager

LOC SM Privacy Policy

About Our Privacy Policy

LOC Strata Management (“we”, “us” or “our”) recognises the importance of privacy and is committed to protecting the privacy of individuals when handling their personal information.  We handle personal information about individuals for purposes relating to our functions and activities involving branding, marketing and related social media marketing activities.

Our Privacy Policy outlines how we handle personal information about individuals for purposes relating to our functions and activities in an open and transparent manner in accordance with the Australian Privacy Principles contained in the Commonwealth Privacy Act 1988.  Personal information includes any information about an identified individual or an individual who is reasonably identifiable.

By providing us with your personal information you consent to us handling it in accordance with our Privacy Policy.  If you provide us with any personal information about another individual then we rely upon you to inform that individual of the details contained in our Privacy Policy.

2. Why we collect, hold, use and disclose personal informationWe collect, hold, use and disclose personal information for purposes relating to our functions and activities.  For example, we may collect, hold, use or disclose your personal information for one or more of the following purposes:

• providing you with our products or services
• managing our client relationship with you
• providing you with information about our products and services
• evaluating or improving our products and services
• marketing, re-marketing or promoting our products and services
• complying with our legal or regulatory obligations

3. What kinds of personal information we collect.
The kinds of personal information about you that we may collect and hold include:

• your personal details including name, contact details, gender, age and personal interests
• your identity information including date of birth and driver’s licence details
• your product and service information including transaction details
• your payment information including bank account and credit card details

We will not collect any sensitive information about you without your consent unless we are required or authorized by law to collect the information.  Sensitive information includes information about an individual’s health (including information collected about or in providing a health service to the individual), biometrics, genetics, ethnic background, religious beliefs, religious affiliations, philosophical beliefs, professional memberships, trade memberships, political memberships, political opinions, sexual preferences or criminal record.

If we are not provided with the personal information about you which we request then we may not be able to provide you with our products or services.

4. What kinds of website visitor information we collect.
We may use cookies or similar technologies to collect information about your visits to our websites https://www.locsm.com.au/ (“Websites”).  A cookie is a small text file which is stored on your computer or device by your web browser when you visit our Websites to enable your visits to be recognised.

The kinds of information that we may collect and hold about your visits to our Websites include your IP address, domain name, locality, operating system, browser type, referring website, search terms, pages and links accessed, and visit date and time.  We may use this information for the purpose of maintaining and improving our Websites and enhancing your experience browsing our Websites.

If you do not wish us to use cookies to collect information about your visits to our Websites then you may set your browser to disable cookies but some parts of our Website may not function properly if cookies are disabled. 5. How we collect personal information

We usually collect personal information directly from you in person or when you communicate with us by telephone, email, standard form, letter, online chat, facsimile or other means.  For example, we may collect your personal information directly from you when:

• you request us to provide you with our products or services
• you request us to provide you with assistance or support for our products or services
• you participate in live chat communication via our website
• you attend a workshop and provide contact details
• you request us to provide you with information about our products, services, functions, activities or events
• you complete a survey or provide feedback in respect of our products, services, functions, activities or events• you subscribe to receive news or other information about our products, services, functions, activities or events
• you enter our competitions or promotions

We may also collect your personal information from a third party or publicly available source for the purpose of carrying out our functions and activities.  For example, we may collect your personal information from:

• your authorised representatives in connection with providing you with our products or services or your attendance at or participation in our functions, activities or events
• our service providers that assist us to carry out our functions and activities including customer support providers, information technology providers, credit report providers, and billing and debt recovery providers
• government departments and agencies in connection with carrying out our functions and activities

6. How we disclose personal information.
We disclose personal information to third parties for the purpose of carrying out our functions and activities.  For example, we may disclose your personal information to:

• your authorised representatives in connection with providing you with our products or services or your attendance at or participation in our functions, activities or events
• our service providers that assist us to carry out our functions and activities including customer support providers, information technology providers, printing and mailing providers, sales and marketing providers, credit report providers, and billing and debt recovery providers
• our professional advisers including accountants, auditors and lawyers
• our related companies, agents, partners, affiliates and other trusted entities that assist us to carry out our functions and activities
• government departments and agencies in connection with carrying out our functions and activities

The third parties to which we may disclose your personal information may be located in Australia or other countries including the United States of America. We will not disclose your personal information to any third parties for any other purpose without your consent except where required or authorised by law.  For example, we will not sell, trade or rent your personal information to any third parties for marketing purposes without your consent.

7. How we use personal information for direct marketing.
We may use your personal information to provide you with news or other information about our products, services, functions, activities or events that may be of interest to you.  In each such communication we will describe how you may at any time request not to receive any further such communications from us.  We will give effect to your request not to receive any further such communications from us as soon as practicable.

8. How we hold and protect personal information We hold personal information that we collect in both physical and
electronic storage facilities including paper-based files, computer servers, desktop and laptop computers, tablets, mobile phones and other portable data storage devices. We protect personal information which we hold from misuse, interference and loss, and from unauthorised access, modification or disclosure using both physical and electronic security measures which include secure premises, secure databases, password access, anti-virus software and firewalls. If we hold any personal information that we no longer need for any purpose for which we may use or disclose the information then we will take reasonable steps to destroy or de-identify the information unless we are required by law to retain the information.

9. How to access and correct your personal information.
You may request access to, and correction of, any of your personal information which we hold.  You should promptly notify us if you become aware that any of your personal information which we hold is inaccurate or out-of-date. We will respond within a reasonable time to a request by you for access to your personal information.  We will give you access to your personal information in the manner that you request if it is reasonable and practicable to do so.  If we decide not to give you access to your personal information then we will give you written reasons for our decision. We will respond within a reasonable time to a request by you for the correction of your personal information.  If we correct any of your personal information that we have previously disclosed to another organisation which is subject to the Australian Privacy Principles then you may request us to notify that other organisation of the correction.  If we decide not to correct any of your personal information then we will give you written reasons for our decision and you may request us to associate with the information a statement apparent to users of the information that it is incorrect. If you wish to access or correct any of your personal information which we hold, please contact our Privacy Officer using the contact details below.  You will be required to verify your identity before you will be permitted to access or correct any of your personal information which we hold.

10. How to make an enquiry or complaint
If you have an enquiry or complaint about our handling of your personal information, please contact our Privacy Officer using the contact details below.  A complaint about our handling of your personal information should first be made in writing to our Privacy Officer setting out details of your complaint.  Our Privacy Officer is responsible for dealing with all enquiries and complaints about our handling of personal information and will respond on our behalf within a reasonable time after receiving an enquiry or complaint. If you are not satisfied with our response to your complaint then you may take your complaint to the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner which may be contacted using the contact details below:

Office of the Australian Information Commissioner
Phone: 1300 363 992E
mail: enquiries@oaic.gov.au
Address:  GPO Box 5218, Sydney, NSW 2001

11. How we update our Privacy Policy.
We may update our Privacy Policy from time to time to take into account changes to our information handling practices by publishing an updated version of our Privacy Policy on our Websites.  You should regularly review the most recent version of our Privacy Policy available on our Websites.

12. Re marketing with Google Analytics
Our Websites use analytics data and the double click cookie to serve ads based on a user’s prior visits to our website. You have the ability to opt out of the double click cookie by visiting the Google advertising opt-out page or by opting out of Google Analytics by visiting the Google Analytics opt-out page. If you would like to know more about remarketing you can view Google’s Remarketing Privacy Guidelines, Policies and Restrictions pages.

13. Retargeting with the Facebook Pixel
Third parties, including Facebook, may use cookies, web beacons, and other storage technologies to collect or receive information from visitors to our website and elsewhere on the internet and use that information to provide measurement services and target ads. This includes your interaction with our Facebook properties. You have the ability to opt out of these various mechanisms by visiting the WebChoices Consumer Choice Tool. For more information about how Facebook manages or uses your data, you can visit their Privacy page.

14. How to contact us
You may contact our Privacy Officer using the contact details below:

Privacy Officer – LOC Strata Management
T : +61 08 6355 5225

This Privacy Policy is effective as of August 2019

Strata Manager

January 15, 2020

Are Your Levies Recoverable? The Devil’s in the Detail

This article about recovering levies and the need for attention to detail after a recent VCAT case has been provided by Gary Bugden OAM, Bugden Allen Lawyers.


A recent decision of the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal is a timely reminder about the need for attention to detail when imposing owner corporation or body corporate levies. We also look at the implication for NSW and Queensland after this decision.


In Owners Corporation No. SP034630W -v- Pekar [2019] VCAT 136 the owners corporation (“OC”) was unsuccessful in its efforts to recover $14,418.46 in outstanding fees (the Victorian equivalent of levies or contributions) because of technical non-compliance with their legislation.


The facts of the case were:

  • On 30 May 2018 the OC issued a fee notice for “arrears” of $11,031.31 and “interest on arrears” of $3,402.79, calculated to 1 July 2018 (“Fee Notice”).
  • The Fee Notice was addressed to “Mr I. and Mrs F. Pekar” and sent to the relevant address.
  • On 14 August 2018 the OC issued a final fee notice with an opening balance at 1 April 2017 of $11,504.12 and a closing balance (or total) of $14,418.46 (“Final Fee Notice”).
  • The Final Fee Notice was addressed to “Mrs Ida Pekar” and contained no explanation as to how the April 2017 balance was calculated.
  • “Mr I. and Mrs F. Pekar” do not exist, the lot owner being “Mrs Ida Pekar”, whose husband is Mr Fima Pekar.


The legislation

Section 31(1) of the Owners Corporations Act 2006 (Vic) (“OC Act”) requires a fee notice to be given to a lot owner in the approved form, setting out fees and charges due and payable by the lot owner to the OC. The fee notice must also state certain information relating to the lot owners’ obligation to pay, the interest that will be payable if there is no payment and how the fees and charges can be disputed (sec.31(2)).


Section 32(1) of the OC Act requires the OC to serve on the lot owner a final notice in the approved form if the money owing is not paid within 28 days of the date of the fee notice. Again, this final notice must set out certain prescribed information (sec. 32(2)).


The decision

The Tribunal Member held that:

  • The Fee Notice was not provided to the lot owner as required by section 31(1) of the OC Act.
  • Even if the Fee Notice had been sent to the lot owner (which it was not), it did not prove the balance of the amount brought forward (i.e. the lump sum amount of $11,031.31).
  • The Final Fee Notice was sent to the lot owner, but it was based on the Fee Notice which I have found does not comply with the Act. As a result, any application for an order requiring payment pursuant to the Final Fee Notice cannot succeed and will be dismissed.” (Vide paragraph 21 of the Member’s Reasons.)


The Lesson

Where the legislation governing the imposition and recovery of levies sets up processes, those processes must be strictly followed if the levies are to be recoverable. If the levies are not recoverable:

  • it may be necessary for them to be re-imposed on owners for future recovery action to be successful; and
  • there may be a risk of owners who previously paid the levies seeking to recover the funds they paid based on mistake.


Implications for NSW

The Strata Schemes Management Act 2015 sets the processes for contributions in NSW, including:

  • There must be a determination (i.e. resolution) of the amount of the contributions to be levied.
  • Except in the case of a special contribution, that determination must be based on estimates (i.e. a budget).
  • The determination of the estimates and the amounts to be levied must be made at the same meeting.
  • When the estimates are determined the owners corporation must have before it and take into account a statement of the existing financial situation of the strata scheme and an estimate of receipts and payments.
  • The contributions must be “levied” on the lot owners “by giving the lot owner written notice of the contribution payable” (vide sec. 83(1)).

Other requirements include –

  • Contributions must be based on unit entitlements
  • The levy notice must indicate the date when the contribution is due and payable
  • That date must be at least 30 days after the notice was given
  • Restriction on recovery action before the end of one month after the contribution becomes due and payable.


In the event that recovery action is contested by the lot owner, the owners corporation needs to be in a position to strictly prove that the various processes were duly undertaken. This may even extend to proving the content of the levy notice by producing an actual copy of the notice served (rather than a copy generated by a computerised management system using data drawn from the system’s database).


Implications for Queensland

The Body Corporate and Community Management (Standard Module) Regulation 2008 (which, as regards levies, is indicative of the content of the other Modules), sets the processes for contributions in Queensland, including in the case of annual contributions:

  • They must be fixed by an ordinary resolution of the annual general meeting
  • They must be fixed based on the budgets for the financial year
  • The number of instalments in which the contributions are to be paid must be decided
  • The dates on which instalments are payable must be fixed
  • The contributions must be levied by written notice to the owner of each lot at least 30 days before the payment is required
  • That notice must specify the 6 things set out in section 142(1) of the Module
  • That notice must be served on an owner at their address for service “or in the way directed by the owner”.


Again, in the event of contested recovery action, the body corporate needs to be in a position to strictly prove that those processes were properly undertaken. The availability of an exact copy of the levy notice is particularly important in Queensland because of the amount of information that is required on the notice. Reliance on computer generated historical copies, using data in a computerised management system, is not recommended in Queensland.


Conclusion

It is time to check your determination and levying processes for maintenance contributions, as well as the wording and content of your levy notices. In particular, do you keep an actual copy of the levy notice that was served on each lot owner? If you do, does it contain all the information it is required to contain? Was it served within any required timeframe? The list of questions goes on, so, good luck with your next levy collection!


Gary Bugden Partner Bugden Allen Lawyers

M: 0412 046 966E: gary@bugdenallenlawyers.com.au


This article does not constitute legal or other advice and should not be relied upon this way. Readers should take legal or other advice before applying the information containing in this publication.

This article has been republished with permission from the author and first appeared on the LookUpStrata website.

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