NSW Lot owners and new committee members are wondering how to establish a new committee in a building where lot owners are not engaged and active? Rod Smith, The Strata Collective and David Bannerman, Bannermans Lawyers provide the following responses.
Question: The Owners Corporation in our large building is very dysfunctional. We’d like to access the strata roll and write to all lot owners to get them engaged, vote out the committee and establish a new committee.
Our building has 100 lot owners. The current Owners Corporation is very dysfunctional. Most of the owners do not attend the strata meetings. Because of this, the Owners Corporation do not spend our money wisely, and repairs are needed on the same things over and over again.
Some new lot owners would like to call an extraordinary general meeting, vote out the committee and establish a new committee.
It is pointless having an election with the current circumstances because the Owners Corporation holds proxies for lot owners that don’t attend. To try and establish a successful new committee, we would like to write to all lot owners and express the importance of becoming involved and voting at the General Meeting.
How do we access the strata roll? Is there a way of obtaining all the lot owners contact details so we can explain, invite them to the meeting and start to get some support for a new committee?
Answer: Take care not to defame!
A lot owner is entitled to inspect the records and copy the strata roll after paying the usual fees to do so.
You may also wish to take a look at this article: Defamation and Strata Title – What to do When Things get Heated Take care not to defame!
This post appears in Strata News #242.
Question: I am part of a newly formed Strata Committee in a 12yr old building containing 60 units. We’d like to prioritise what needs to be addressed. How do we proceed?
I am part of a newly formed Strata Committee in a 12yr old building containing 60 units.
40% is owner occupied & the remaining 60% is investor-owned.
Prior to these new appointments, it seems all previous roles & tasks normally performed by an elected committee, have been attended to by just 3 people, including the same Strata Managers who have also been involved over this period.
However, it’s now time for a new broom! We would like to survey the lot owners to see what they feel are the important issues. Is there a fairly comprehensive SURVEY template that the Strata Committee can now send to all owners so that we can start prioritising what needs to be addressed?
Is this the best way to proceed? If not, as a new committee, how should we proceed?
Answer: The act doesn’t recognise the present situation as a conflict of interest.
It is an interesting idea to survey owners, however, most buildings would only survey their owners on a particular issue (eg do you want to keep the pool heating on all year at an additional cost of $500 per owner or are you happy to only have the pool in operation October to April each year) rather than a survey on general priorities for the building.
The best way to get owner feedback is through owner feedback provided at the Annual General Meeting. You can encourage owner attendance by sending the owners a letter with the AGM agenda explaining that you are a new strata committee, you want to discuss the future of the building at this meeting and would love to have as many owners as possible attend that meeting to seek feedback.
In addition to this, as the first step for the Strata Committee, I would also suggest that the Strata Committee reviews the below items to determine some priorities for the building:
- Review the Capital Works Fund Forecast for your building. This will be able to provide good insights into how you are meeting your obligations under the Strata Schemes Management Act 2015 to repair and maintain common property, as well as if your funds collected are on track with future requirements.
- Have you reviewed your cleaning, fire and other maintenance contacts, both for quality and to check prices, to make sure that you are receiving a good offering compared to the market?
- Have you reviewed your electricity, gas and phone contracts to make sure you are getting good pricing? It is very easy to save 20% on electricity costs and in our business, we just negotiated a 28% saving company wide.
- Is the Strata Committee meeting each quarter to review the financials, discuss any compliance (by-law issues), to review works recently completed and to discuss future works to the building?
- Are there any outstanding maintenance items that you as a committee are aware of and have they been prioritised, with the highest priority items costed?
Once you have completed the above exercise and prioritised these items, you can then survey the owners to confirm that the Strata Committee’s priorities are in line with the owner’s priorities (which I’m sure will be, as you have good motives).
I hope this is helpful.
This post appears in Strata News #234.
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This article is for reference purposes only and is not intended to be a comprehensive review of the developments in the law and practice or to cover all aspect of the subject matter. It does not constitute legal or other advice and should not be relied upon this way. Readers should take legal or other advice before applying the information containing in this publication.
Have a dysfunctional committee in your scheme? Looking to establish a new committee? If you have question or something to add to the article, leave a comment below.