Information provided by Strata Community Association Victoria (SCAV)
Besides increasing hygiene measures and having a building-wide plan in place, it is critical to consider suspending social gatherings, such as meet and greets, apartment complex meetings, or other activities in the building that require people to gather.
At this stage it is unknown if the Health Department intends to notify an Owners Corporation if it has issued a notice to a person to quarantine.
However, all residents and their visitors are bound by the Model Rules as well as any Consolidated Rules. The Model Rules provide a duty under 1.1 and 6.1 to not cause a hazard or interfere with quiet enjoyment of others. On this basis it is not unreasonable to expect that the Committee should be notified or request of its residents that it be notified. The Committee is responsible for the management of the common areas and facilities and may need to create additional policies to manage the COVID-19 crisis. These new policies may include:
- Delivery of parcels to units – residents may be required to instruct the courier to leave the parcel at the front of their apartment door, not in the lobby area. Requesting the resident arrange how the courier gains access to their floor etc.
- Visitors and visitors parking – to manage the risk of exposure to other residents the committee may recommend restriction on the number of social visitors in line with government protocols, but certainly the visitor’s carparks could be restricted for use by essential services like Doctors and medical services as a priority etc.
- Rubbish/waste – residents may be asked not to use the chute or rubbish room and to double bag the rubbish from their bin. Alternate collection methods may need to be implemented while residents are house bound.
- Toilets – remind residents not to flush anything other than toilet paper down the toilet, it will only result in blockages impacting their home individually before it extends potentially to all in the property.
- Mail – the committee may require residents to make alternate arrangements for the delivery of mail.
- Shared facilities – the committee may determine new access times (hours of operation and closure) of shared community facilities such as pools and gyms, or close them to residents if directed by Government. Which is the current position.
- Shared laundry facilities – the committee may consider restricting use and/or closure of communal laundries if residents do not adhere to the Government guidelines. Residents should be encouraged to take protective measures such as wearing gloves, washing their hands, not touching their face and disinfecting all surfaces of the machines they use. Maintain social distancing. Recommend use of the hot water setting and use of laundry detergents that contain a bleach compound. (Although be mindful to also include advice for them to take into account the material being washed so clothes are not damaged).
- Meeting & Communication – the committee may implement new meeting and communication protocols to minimise the potential spread of the virus and enable decisions of the OC to continue to be made by alternate means; eg teleconference, on-line meetings, ballots.
- Building Maintenance & Services – the committee may determine to increase or reduce services to the building to minimise risks to residents; eg increase cleaning regime, increase waste collection if all residents are staying home and the rubbish generated increases, employ security guards if there is a power failure and the entry/exit security systems stops working or garage doors etc.
- Pets – encourage residents to be mindful of pets as changing conditions may impact on their behaviour and habits. In particular if house bound reducing exercise routine and toilet management.
Strata Community Association Victoria recommends that the Committee (and Management) communicate with residents on this important subject. In times such as these, effective and timely communication within the community can help to provide comfort to residents that the Committee (and management) are giving these matters proper attention. Committees can consider sending an initial notice to residents offering guidance and updated advice. SCA Victoria has created a template for your use ‘Communications to Residents’.