A Sydney couple fears they're being financially ruined, thanks to their compulsory strata manager.
Stephen Rutter and Rocio Lopez thought they bought their dream unit in 2019 and that it would fit their blended family.
But days after moving in, they say they were bombarded with complaints by their neighbour.
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The unit they bought is one of two in the complex.
"We tried to have a strata meeting," Lopez said.
"The hour before the meeting … they were just offloading all these grievances with our property, with everything."
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The couple said it was clear they'd never get along with their neighbour.
So after seeking legal advice, the couple decided to head to the New South Wales Civil and Administrative Tribunal (NCAT) to get a compulsory strata manager appointed, to manage everything to do with the building.
Sydney Strata Specialists were appointed in April 2021.
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But the couple claim Sydney Strata Specialists weren't what they expected.
Months into its tenure, the strata company raised a special levy for work on the property.
"So it was nine months in the making, but the contractors or the engineers at the time, delivered the scope of works and it was $370,000," Rutter said.
Sydney Strata Specialists deemed the upgrades on the property as urgent.
The couple had to take out a second mortgage to cover their costs, but also decided to get their own building expert out for an inspection.
"They came out, they looked at the exact scope of work that was produced by the strata manager," Rutter said.
Rutter said the inspector told him about 12 of the 17 items strata listed for an upgrade were not urgent.
The couple said no work has been done on the property 12 months from when the special levy was raised.
They've now paid Sydney Strata Specialists more than $250,000, plus $150,000 in legal fees to fight some of the decisions.
Lawyer John Mahoney is representing the couple.
"The difficulty is that my clients put to this composite strata manager the fact that there was around … $150,000 to $200,000 that could be saved on the same repairs. But that was rejected," Mahoney said.
The couple said they can't sell the house while they drown in debt.
In a statement, Sydney Strata Specialists said: "Sydney Strata Specialists disagree with the allegations and deny we have done anything wrong."
"All complaints have been dismissed."
Stephen and Rocio will head back to NCAT to try and get the strata company removed.
We are aware of the allegations that lot 2 have made against Sydney Strata Specialists. Sydney Strata Specialists disagree with the allegations and deny we have done anything wrong. The owners of Lot 2 have previously complained about our strata management numerous times to NCAT as well as Fair Trading and the relevant Minister. All complaints have been dismissed. The owners of Lot 2 have also previously applied to NCAT to have our compulsory management of their building terminated and not only were they unsuccessful in their application the Senior Member from NCAT extended our compulsory management for a further 2 years as they saw nothing wrong with our conduct.
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