This article about removing a disruptive lot owner from the committee has been supplied by Karina Heinz, Progressive Strata Services.
Question: A disruptive lot owner has moved into our well run building and is on the committee. How do we remove this disruptive lot owner from the committee and get back to harmony within the owners corporation?
We are a small complex and 70% of our units are owner occupied.
We have a very cohesive owners corporation and the committee members give many voluntary hours to ensure that the complex is well maintained, secured and all residents are living in harmony.
Some time ago, we had a new owner who bought a unit in the complex. She is demanding, aggressive and totally rude.
She insisted that she wants to be a committee member so that she can ‘have her fingers in the pie’.
We discussed the issue during a Committee Member meeting and despite some reservations from other members, the Chairman agreed to nominate her as a committee member ‘just so that we are an inclusive committee and not prejudice against anyone’!
Sure enough, trouble starts the moment she was became a committee member. She lets her cat out on the common area and pee all over the garden and her partner smokes in the common area even though we have a by-law that states “this is a non-smoking complex”. She never volunteers a single minute of her time to the welfare of the complex, but each time we put out a motion to improve the complex, she’s the only one that rejects the motion.
Fortunately, the majority of the committee members are always in favour of the good upkeep of the complex and hence we were able to move forward with any of the needed maintenance.
Our Strata Manager is also aware of this disruptive owner and had advised us to talk to this owner and ask her to step down as a committee member.
Unfortunately, due to past experiences, we know that she will not step down quietly and will cause a commotion if asked to step down.
Can you please provide us with some guidance on how to remove a committee member without making it ugly.
We have 5 committee members and she’s one of the 5. We know that all the other 4 committee members will gladly get rid of her if we vote her out now.
Please let us know what steps we need to take to remove this disruptive lot owner from the committee.
Answer: Removing a member should be done cautiously so take the time to try to set it up properly.
Whilst this seems the solution to your problem – just be aware that this is “not a good look” on your records.
Removing a member should be done cautiously so take the time to try to set it up properly. Do your best to improve how it will appear as it will be on your records for a long time to come. The good news is that your records will already “look good” given the previous harmony you refer to, so you need to make sure it is apparent to those inspecting the books (or a Member at NCAT if she refers it there) that she is the issue.
I suggest starting to minute important points ie those in favour and those against. As it will reflect that:
- She is always the odd one out
- The types of motions she is voting against are those that are for the good of the scheme (reinforcing point 1).
Do this for a few meetings to set things up. That way, if the matter is referred to NCAT you can show her behaviour. It also then is easy to compare the past where things went well before her election. It also lets owners (as they should be getting the minutes) know what she is like so no one votes her on again.
You will need to rally votes, so speak to other owners (even the non-resident ones) before you put the motion forward. That way, if she talks to them they know the committee’s side to things first. Be extremely careful not to slander. Simply state the facts ie what she has voted against. I strongly advise against talking about the cat or smoking unless it is minuted and the committee are willing to do something about it.
- Who are you going to put forward to fill the vacancy once she is gone (and to keep her off)?
- Enforce the bylaws she is breaching. This will show that whilst she is on the committee she is not treated differently. It is often perceived there is favouritism towards committee members and this can get Owners offside. If you do this whilst she is still on the committee, she knows she won’t get treated favourably IF she happens to get back on the committee (which may have been part of her secret agenda too).
Here is the law: SECT 35 – Vacation of office of elected member of strata committee
Steps to Remove a Disruptive Lot Owner from the Committee
- It is a special resolution. That means 75% of the unit entitlement who are present and entitled to vote at the meeting are in favour (or as the Act states – no more than 25% against)
- So it needs to be put to a meeting of all owners (the committee can’t do it)
- The committee can fill the vacancy later or you can do it at the EGM
As an alternative to Removing the Lot Owner from the Committee
- Do as many meetings via online/written vote as possible. Then there is a record of what she voted so she can’t deny it
- You won’t need to see her as often which will remove the angst of dealing with her
- Are you able to hold out until the AGM and make sure no owner supports her nomination back onto the committee?
- I would suggest also doing a report for the AGM on the committee – Chair or Secretary to prepare
- Indicating attendance eg there were 10 meetings and who attended how many
- What the committee achieved eg replacement of intercom (Jill Smith), reviewed cleaners performance (Bob Gregor), agendas and minutes (Don Davis) etc (ie after each name in brackets – who handled it). This will make it apparent she is not pulling her weight, so it is just as much about showing her for what she is but ensuring no one votes for her in the future.
Can you relate to this situation? Is something similar happening at your scheme? If you are after more information about removing disruptive lot owners from the committee, please let us know below in the comment section.
This post appears in Strata News #289.
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