This Q&A, providing information about correspondence, specifically strata council roles and responsibilities, has been answered by our WA Strata helper – Strata Martyr.
Question: Are there rules which regulates the communication process between the Chairperson, the Secretary and the Treasurer on a strata council? What are the strata council roles and responsibilities around this?
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Is there anything written about strata council roles and responsibilities which regulates the communication process between the Chairperson, the Secretary and the Treasurer on a strata council?
As a general rule, one would think that when a Secretary is given a certain task they would inform the other Office Bearers (copying in the Chairperson & the Treasurer) as part of the process whenever an official letter on behalf of Committee goes out. Ideally, it would be best to present outgoing correspondence before being send out – but letting this aside.
Say the Secretary has been given a certain task but does not provide copies of his correspondence to outside communications to the other Office Bearers. He sees himself more like a Project Manager who delivers a results. Most ordinary Council Members may not be interested to be informed of every step of the process, I assume that many Office Bearers do.
Answer: The content of correspondence from the Strata Council, in the absence of Strata Management Delegation, should be discussed by all Council members not just the Office Bearers.
In the context of your Strata Complex, the Council of Owners or Council of Management or the Body Corporate or whatever name they go by, have complete power to act on behalf of the owners who nominated or voted them in, by ballot if required, at the last Annual General Meeting.
First, if you have strata management you may want to check your contract to see what duties are delegated to the strata manager (in the absence of other instruction), as this covers most of the secretarial and treasurers duties, as opposed to the strata council roles and responsibilities. If you are self managed (“the road to hell is paved with good intentions”) self sufficiency is vital for good management regardless of what model you have.
Being such an important function of Strata, there are Schedule 1 by-laws covering most aspects of the election and running of the Council. Office Bearers is a term used in Company Law. One person can hold all three Office Bearer functions. Your Strata Insurance should have Office Bearers Liability cover. This is an industry standard but not a requirement. Office Bearers insurance will cover the Office Bearer or Bearers if a decision and or instruction turns out to be incorrect and is subject to claim against the strata company. The Council, as long as they have acted in good faith, should be covered.
Related post: WA: Who does what in a Strata Community?
I fear the writing of correspondence is a poor man’s version of being published. I say this with a certain amount of personal experience.
Writing is an important tool for the Council to keep owners informed, educating to eliminate problems and resolving business that may arise. The role of the Council is to vet the correspondence (but not always if delegated to strata management), risk management and efficiency are areas for Council to consider. The reason we have more than one Council member is because this would not be in the best interests of the strata. There is also a by-law setting Council numbers. Most tribunals are made up of a number of different professions, for example the Building Commission may be made up of a Registered builder, a Lawyer and a Public Advocate. This allows them to arrive at the best decision.
The content of correspondence from the Council, in the absence of Strata Management Delegation, should be discussed by all Council members not just the Office Bearers. Also, the document should be open to changes by other Council Members, then by simply majority the Secretary will be asked to sign off and send.
Related post: What Makes A Great Strata Committee? Podcast
Common sense is always applicable. Checking correspondence and being allowed to edit can be raised at your next Council meeting. The decision, by simple majority, can be minuted with form instructions on Council procedure for your tenure as a Council member.
Check your Schedule 1 by-laws. Below is one from the Standard Schedule 1 by-laws that could constitute rules.
There is a section that states “regulate its meetings as it sees fit”. Whatever actions are taken by the Council, they must be in the best interests of the complex and agreed to by simple majority.
MEETINGS OF COUNCIL – 8.
- At meetings of the council, all matters shall be determined by a simple majority vote.
- The council may:‑
(a) meet together for the conduct of business and adjourn and otherwise regulate its meetings as it thinks fit, but the council shall meet when any member of the council gives to the other members not less than 7 days’ notice of a meeting proposed by him, specifying in the notice the reason for calling the meeting;
(b) employ on behalf of the strata company such agents and employees as it thinks fit in connection with the control and management of the common property and the exercise and performance of the powers and duties of the strata company;
(c) subject to any restriction imposed or direction given at a general meeting of the strata company, delegate to one or more of its members such of its powers and duties as it thinks fit, and at any time revoke the delegation.
- A member of a council may appoint a proprietor, or an individual authorised under section 45 of the Act by a corporation which is a proprietor, to act in his place as a member of the council at any meeting of the council and any proprietor or individual so appointed shall, when so acting, be deemed to be a member of the council.
- A proprietor or individual may be appointed under sub‑bylaw (3) of this by‑law whether or not he is a member of the council.
- If a person appointed under sub‑bylaw (3) of this by‑law is a member of the council he may, at any meeting of the council, separately vote in his capacity as a member and on behalf of the member in whose place he has been appointed to act.
- The council shall keep minutes of its proceedings.
Note: this general information is an opinion only and suitable specialists in these areas should be sought for clarification and assistance on all points.
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