WA Strata title and unpaid levies and form 3 notice to Magistrates Court

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12 December 2019
Hi, I jointly own a unit in Perth WA (bought off the plan) with many building faults which have not been rectified and directly affect our unit (water ingress, consequential damage to laminated flooring which had gone mouldy and mouldings that had rotted and snapped in the process - this has been going on for 3 years). The strata manager doesn't respond to my emails and nor do the Council of Owners. We can only get a very reduced rental because of the damage.

The main concern is that we missed the last two quarterly strata levies. The strata company had our correct residential address and my wife's new email address on their portal but they must have sent the emails with the levy notices to her old email and this didn't bounce back.

They didn't send a letter to the residential address on the portal. They may have sent it to my old office address (I sold the business in January 2017 but retained the premises) but any correspondence was not passed on and certainly not received (apparently two notices sent).

The lawyer acting for the body corporate also sent a letter which should have gone to the residential address but may have gone to my previous business address (which is on the Certificate of Title) but this was never forwarded on and neither was I advised that there might have been mail waiting for me.

When it came to the lawyer issuing form 3 (general procedure claim) they clearly had the defendants (ourselves) showing our residential address and yet they didn't send their letter notifying the outstanding matters to our residential address!

Are you able to say which section of the Strata Titles Act 'infers' that owners have an obligation to pay their levies even if they don't receive an invoice. It is a bit ironic as only a day ago I received the draft minutes of the AGM in June 2019 stating the new levy plus a reserve fund and noting that my last payment was for the quarter from 1 April 2019 there is no way what I would have known what the levy should have been.

They would argue that the levies and correspondence are on the portal but I was never aware of this (which I now see they are there). I feel there has been gross incompetence by the strata manager sending the emails to the old email address (not looking at the new email address on their portal) and probably sending correspondence to my old office address even though the portal correctly shows our residential address for correspondence.

I have asked for all copies of the letters in this regard from the strata manager and lawyer.

As a matter of principal I don't feel that I should be liable for all the add on costs (about $600) because I think this whole thing has been poorly handled by the strata manager and lawyer.

We have a history of always paying our levies promptly.

Do you have any comment as to whether a magistrate might dismiss all the things I have mentioned and state that it is our responsibility to pay our levies on time even if we don't have notice of them, meaning that all of the court fees, service fees, travelling time and interest would be payable.

This doesn't sit well with me as I feel it has been a shambles which would have been avoided if the strata manager only used the new email and the address recorded on their portal.

As a secondary question, I raised questions which were recorded in the AGM agenda in June 2019 relating to 'slackness' in answering correspondence (most of my correspondence goes unanswered) and the council of owners don't seem to respond either and in the meantime nothing substantive has been done to reinstall the warped cladding to commercial standards to prevent water ingress and put proper flashings in the top and bottom of the cladding (which had not been done).. This would be the builders responsibility and although there was a consultant listing defects, they don't seem to want to answer questions and disclose what has been included in the report about the water ingress and defective cladding. They did show their report at one point which I read fully and I have been 'hounding them since' to include the defects to our unit 7 because I am worried about the statutory 6yrs running out but this party is also not responding to requests.

Sorry about the long thread but I thought I would need to give the background.

I would appreciate your comments on both questions and could I pay the two quarter outstanding levies to the strata manager and leave the dispute over the balance of fees and cost and interest?

Many thanks,