A lot owner from QLD has a question about the lack of committee involvement in their schemes. Frank Higginson, Hynes Legal provides the following response.
Jump directly to the QUESTION you are after:
- QUESTION: The same Investment Owners have been on the Strata Committee since 2010 due to lack of interest from other owners. How can we encourage lot owners to be more involved in the complex?
- QUESTION: I’m very dissatisfied with the level of garden maintenance and the apparent apathy of our committee. Can I claim compensation from the other lot owners?
Question: The same Investment Owners have been on the Strata Committee since 2010 due to lack of interest from other owners. How can we encourage lot owners to be more involved in the complex?
I own 1 of 16 units in a QLD complex built-in 2010. The complex was 100% Rentals for over 8 years with two new owner-occupiers in recent years.
I am very surprised others are not interested in maintaining their investment property. There has been a consistency of the same 2-3 Investment Owners having to re-standing for Strata Committee since 2010. Even with the AGM Motion papers and Voting Papers, we seldom get others to participate, thus the Strata Management following up with existing Committee Members to re-stand and talk one of us to take up Chairperson position.
Please note the Committee Members (as well as several other Investment Owners) all live outside QLD and mostly rely on Strata Management, Trades, Property Agents to provide feedback on Complex issues.
We even approached Strata to assist and conduct 3 monthly site inspections. This has helped enormously by allowing us to identify action points such as Visitors Car Parking used by Tenants, Gardens maintenance, Bins overflowing, Graffiti etc.
Can we request for Committee members with over 5 years continued service have a 25% reduction on their Strata Fees? If nothing else I’m almost certain we would get lots of replies during the AGM and receive more voting papers. Hopefully, then these Investment Owners will start to participate or reject such commissions to long-standing Committee Members.
Is there a better way to get others involved?
Answer: You can email the other owners to encourage them to be more involved, with a focus on the impacts on their bottom line. I know that other schemes do things like a portal, blog or other online presence for their building and that can be useful.
First up I want to commend you for making the effort to be involved in the face of apathy. As you point out, that happens a lot in the strata sector unfortunately and frankly, it puzzles me too. If a person is going to spend $500k and more on their lot, why on earth wouldn’t they take the time to participate in decision-making that has a direct impact on that investment?
And yet we know it’s a struggle to get people to nominate for committee. I saw and heard it all the time as Commissioner. I suspect that a lot of people think they won’t have time for it – even though the time commitment can be pretty manageable – but probably the bigger issue is that body corporate ‘stuff’ can seem very complex and challenging and there might be a fear of the unknown or a fear of having to get informed about a lot of things.
While your suggestion about discounts is a novel and left-field idea I’m afraid it won’t fly. For starters, the Standard Regulation (s143) provides for how discounts on levies can (or can’t) be made and your suggestion doesn’t fit in with that. Moreover, I think it’s just about impossible to work in practice. Does that mean for example that after 5 years, the discount kicks in and kicks in indefinitely? Or is it only while they’re on the committee? What if someone is up to 4 years and then has a health or family crisis which means they can’t participate, even if they want to? There are many other questions this poses.
So, then, how to encourage? Great question! I’m a firm believer in appealing to the hip pocket. If you have a copy of the roll then you should also have copies of owners’ email addresses. You can email them to encourage them to be more involved, with a focus on the impacts on their bottom line. I know that other schemes do things like a portal, blog or other online presence for their building and that can be useful.
I might also suggest the great – and free! – committee online training (link ‘online training’ – https://www.qld.gov.au/law/housing-and-neighbours/body-corporate/legislation-and-bccm/services/training) provided by my former Office. That might alleviate concerns about having to get across too much content.
This post appears in Strata News #396.
Question: I’m very dissatisfied with the level of garden maintenance and the apparent apathy of our committee. Can I claim compensation from the other lot owners?
I am a Lot owner who is very dissatisfied with the level of garden maintenance and the apparent apathy of our committee as they have contributed to the problem by voting to turn off our common area irrigation system roughly 2 years or more ago. I have complained, I have communicated with the office for body corporate services, all dead ends.
Once the common area garden at the front of my lot was almost completely dead, I took over the care of it as it was unsightly and I believe killing property value. I have for the last at least 2 years used my time, money and cost of water to maintain this garden myself. I have insisted that the onsite managers no longer touch it and was informed I had to apply to the committee to be able to look after it.. basically let it die again as they are getting sick of my noise.
I have been reading about the farmstock case, I realise this was an onsite manager but on the basis of the ruling – It is a general rule applicable to every contract that each party agrees, by implication, to do all such things as are necessary on his part to enable the other party to have the benefit of the contract.
Do I have the avenue for recourse? Not only are the committee & onsite manager not doing all things necessary to enable at least this party (me) to have the full benefit of the contract, neither are the other lot owners whether they care or not. I’ve also paid additional funds from my own pocket, time and manual labour to a task that technically I am already paying for.
I would think I am due compensation at least???
Answer: Before we start suing people for compensation, consider these questions.
I think before we start suing people for compensation I think the starting point would be to understand:-
- Who has obligations with respect to the area
- Whether they have been met
- If not, seeking to force them to be met – via the Commissioner’s Office
- Then looking at it after that.
The reality is though that the costs of proceedings for something of this nature would more than likely well and truly outweigh the benefit any compensation actually sought
This post appears in Strata News #197.
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