Many of us may be feeling swamped by the tsunami of information about CV-19, much of it of general application about the broader community both here and overseas. Even when it advises what to do and what not to do, it is mainly at the impersonal ‘Hey you out there, whoever you are’ level and is not directed personally to you (or to you, or to you) about your own particular concerns and circumstances.
The UOAQ has heard from two very grateful UOAQ members from two different complexes about the initiatives being taken by their respective committees in relation to CV-19 – and the similarities are striking.
First, the committees have assumed a leadership role. Like all committee members they are just volunteers, but they also acknowledge that if anyone has a leadership role in their community it is the committee. So, they have stepped up to the plate.
Second, both committees are following an approach which combines:
- Coordination: the committees realise that they do not have to do everything; they just need to ensure things are happening and in a managed way regardless of who is doing which particular thing. Importantly, they are looking also at what can be done, and what may need to be done, if circumstances change.
- Collaboration: there are many interested parties involved with their complex, often with discrete and competing priorities, responsibilities etc. Key examples would be the body corporate managers (BCM); on-site caretakers; rental pool managers; owner-occupiers; owner-investors; etc. All parties need to be consulted and their priorities considered; this will require a very delicate and sensitive approach when working out what needs to be done at the body corporate level.
- Communication: neither committee has overlooked the importance of letting all owners know what is being done, what is planned, and why. The UOAQ is not aware yet how one of the committees is doing this, but the other is relying on e-mails sent directly to all owners rather than going through their BCM – who no doubt is already over-loaded with work. Short one-pagers issued about every 10-14 days seem to be working for the committee, and is a sustainable work-load for the committee member publishing them.
This communication will achieve two things:
- Reassure the owners that things are being done; and
- Reinforce awareness of CV-19, and the risks it poses to all of us.
Third, both committees seem to have picked up on the two key issues confronting all of us ie Lives and Livelihoods as follows:
- LIVES: the committees are concentrating on what they can do in their community to protect the lives and well-being of their community. This leads to a focus on common property – with a prioritisation of the essential elements.
First essential is safe passage from the front-gate to the front door. There are many points on the path from the street to your front door, points where people may concentrate, congregate, touch things etc eg doors, handles, handrails, lifts, stairwells. Managing this stuff is an absolute priority, if you want to minimise as much as possible the risk of contamination by others.
Secondary essentials include any extra facilities accessible by community if they choose to do so eg pool, spa, sauna, gym, BBQ, bike-sheds, games rooms, etc. What is important here is not only safe usage of the facilities themselves, but safe passage to them.
What the committees decide to do in relation to each of these risks is a matter for their particular complex, drawing on all of the expert advice currently circulating. What is heartening is that the two committees are addressing these issues pro-actively and trying to make informed decisions before things get worse.
- LIVELIHOODS: both committees acknowledge that levies, and body corporate funds, are the lifeblood of their community. We may not know how big an impact CV-19 will have on the financial health of our community, but everything is pointing to it being big, real big.
Levies In: CV-19 will all likely have a significant effect on levies flowing in. The two committees are already discussing possible effects and, importantly, the need to be really sensitive to genuine hardship cases. This may translate into a totally different approach to their normal recovery policy and practices.
Expenses Out: The other side of the $$$-coin involves protecting and conserving whatever funds are already in the bank. This may lead to a review and postponement of non-essential expenditure, to ensure that if levies are reduced there remains enough money in the bank to cover essentials and contracted amounts.
What can we do?
The UOAQ is confident that all body corporate communities will be thinking about what they can do about CV-19 in order to protect themselves and their property. What we have heard from the two owners about their respective committees is just one way of turning concern and thinking into positive action. There no doubt will be other ways, but it is most gratifying to see two committees acknowledging their role as leaders in their communities and doing something about it as leaders.
And please do not forget to offer your committee your own support and guidance. Even if they have things under control, your offer will be appreciated.
We welcome any feedback on other initiatives and will publish it for the benefit of all members.
Finally, we wish you all safe passage through this crisis.