Early Dispute Prevention Services
Is there a question around what is acceptable and satisfactory in terms of building management or caretaking practises in your building? Would clear, factual and impartial information on building management standards be beneficial? Are you confused about the specifics of a Caretaking Agreement and what would be considered a reasonable expectation for service delivery?
Australian Building Management Accreditation Pty Ltd (‘ABMA’) is the platform established in Australia for setting standards for self-assessment and governance across residential and mixed-use strata buildings, including development and regulation of the ABMA Building Management Code© (‘Code’).
The ABMA Code, having been collated by the Independent Review Panel of Australian specialists in post-construction maintenance of common property, defines and details the national standard of service delivery required by building management professionals servicing a building. ABMA advocates that clarification around standards is the first step to dispute prevention and resolution.
From time to time, the parties to a building management arrangement (contract or agreement) may disagree on a required standard, frequency of service, adopted methodology, or even an interpersonal behavioural/communication matter. When any difficulty arises or a disagreement relating to the maintenance, servicing and management of a building comes to a stalemate, the ABMA can support resolution via Early Dispute Prevention Services. See Early Dispute Prevention Services (Code of Practice)
Difficulties and disagreements between the parties to a building management arrangement may arise and evolve from a myriad of circumstances resulting in confusion, misconception and/or misunderstanding. As a cost-effective pre-cursor to seeking legal advice, ABMA is available to support an environment of resolution via our Early Dispute Prevention Services. It is the experience of ABMA that difficulties in service arrangements generally arise in circumstances where some (or all) of the following present:
- Lack of knowledge about building management standards – that is, the ABMA Building Management Code©;
- Poor (incomplete or inaccurate) instruction and/or contract documentation;
- Unhelpful communication and/or interpersonal behaviours;
- Confusion around the specifics of the arrangement;
- Restrictions, limitations and/or lack of support (voting, approvals, equipment, unclear or unlawful instruction);
- Outdated Agreements due to changes in legislation and Australian Standards imposing new and/or intensified duties upon Caretakers, building managers and Facilities Managers.
By utilising the ABMA Early Dispute Prevention Services the parties to the building management arrangement are able to clearly understand whether their difficulty is indeed a ‘breach’ or a standard ‘non-compliance’ under the ABMA Building Management Code©, while utilising an independent and unbiased service in an attempt to resolve issues before matters escalate to legal action.
Clarification of standards under the Code via ABMA, along with an assessment of any existent breaches or non-compliances, are important steps to take prior to legal action. Attempting to resolve difficulties via Early Dispute Prevention Services provides evidence of reasonableness and genuine effort to resolve prior to legal action.
Mediation provides a non-invasive platform for parties to restore open communication and discuss issues in a safe environment. ABMA Mediators are highly trained specialists, experienced in facilitating resolution plans. They understand that it is “human” for differences of opinion or confusion around delivery standards interpretation to arise from time-to-time.
The presence of a difficulty or difference of opinion does not automatically qualify the situation to escalate into dispute. How the parties deal with difficulties makes all the difference; however both parties are equally responsible for the quality of interpersonal interaction. Poor management of a difference of opinion is generally what escalates the difficulty into a dispute where Clarification of a Standard provides impartial advice and direction that perhaps the parties had not previously considered.
How do you know if a minimum standard in building management, caretaking or building maintenance has been achieved? What can the parties to the building management arrangement or Caretaking Agreement rely upon in terms of national standards in building management service delivery?
In the first instance, check the ABMA Building Management Code© for your state, along with the associated Guide Books. If you are still unsure you may seek Clarification of a Standard via the ABMA. Once you have clarified the national minimum standard within the context of your arrangement (contract, agreement and/or written instruction) use your Clarification of a Standard Report to provide more knowledge to both parties - in the spirit of resolution - by following this simple process:
- Apply for Early Dispute Prevention services and provide the ABMA with details of your issues;
- ABMA Desk Top Auditor(s) will process your Application and prepare the ‘Clarification of a Standard’ report;
- Issue your counterpart with a copy of the ‘Clarification of a Standard’ report and invite them to join you in an ABMA Mediation session;
- Attend ABMA EDPS Mediation and receive your ‘Mediation Resolution Plan’ at the conclusion of the session.
In accordance with the ABMA Code of Practice for Principled Auditing, the ABMA panel of Accredited Compliance & Performance Assessors provide impartial and independent auditing of the performance of the caretaking services provider. Having completed training to the ABMA standard, stakeholders can be assured that all ABMA Accredited Compliance & Performance Assessors will deliver auditing services to the requirements of the Code of Practice, with complete independence and impartiality.
ABMA independent caretaking performance audits include:
- Full analysis of the caretaking services agreement;
- Regulatory compliance and recording keeping audit;
- Full inspection of the condition of common property;
- Review of organisational structure and resourcing requirements;
- Review of qualifications of resources;
- Opinion on how the audit results have manifested;
- Recommendations for resolution of any issues identified.
The ABMA Building Management Code© is the objective industry standard for delivery of caretaking duties in Australia and New Zealand and the basis of the principled auditing standards required of ABMA Accredited industry practitioners.
Where parties to the caretaking agreement are unable to agree on the correct delivery standard for a particular duty or duties prescribed within the agreement, the ABMA is able to provide independent clarification.
For support in clarifying delivery standards under the caretaking agreement and/or for a request for an independent Caretaking Performance Audit undertaken by an ABMA Accredited auditor, please via Freecall 1800 123 262 or email email@example.com
If you have clarified the standard in line with the Code, then notified your contractual counterpart yet the difficulties still persist, Mediation is the next step.
The ABMA will invite your counterpart to attend and participate in ABMA EDPS Mediation in a safe environment, established to facilitate a Resolution Plan.
Once the ‘Clarification of a Standard’ report is published, both parties to the matter(s) are invited to participate in Mediation. ABMA EDPS mediation sessions are facilitated by an ABMA EDPS Mediator in a neutral venue, geared toward developing a Resolution Plan.
Prior to Mediation, both parties have the opportunity to review the ‘Clarification of a Standard’ report in order to be prepared for the Mediation session. Legal representation is not permitted in the Mediation forum as it is intended to create a non-invasive space for open discussion and clarification of issues.
All ABMA EDPS Mediators have over 20 years’ experience in management rights, and/or have legal backgrounds. Mediation is conducted in accordance with the ABMA Code of Practice and the outcome of Mediation is the preparation of a Resolution Plan.
Apply to have your caretaking delivery standards questions clarified via the ABMA EDPS Clarification of a Standard process and invite your counterpart to a resolution-oriented Mediation: - Either complete the online EDPS Mediation form, or Freecall 1800 123 262 or email firstname.lastname@example.org