As we continue to fly through the Annual General Meeting season here at Strata Plan, we are seeing a healthy number of bright-eyed new committee members making the step up to become actively involved in the management of their property.
Of course, there is also a solid number of seasoned veterans who continue to volunteer their time as committee members of their Owners Corporation.
The contributions of lot owners and in particular those who step up to take on a role as a member of the Owners Corporation’s committee is crucial to the success of your property.
As a committee member, whether new or old, you are elected by your fellow owners to represent them and in doing so you must act in good faith.
This means making decisions that will potentially affect all lot owners; from spending Owners Corporation money on ensuring the common property is well maintained and in good repair, approving quotes for various works, and monitoring the financial position of your Owners Corporation.
Strata Plan is here to help with and provide guidance for all of the above, and the best committees collaborate with their managers and other stakeholders – such as managing agents, tenants and various contractors – to drive positive outcomes for all.
So, now that you’re a member of your Owners Corporation committee, here are three do’s and don’ts to get you off on the right track.
Regular committee meetings are the most effective and efficient ways to deal with important Owners Corporation matters.
Bringing everyone together into one room ensures a more robust conversation and greater clarity on the status of various items of importance to your Owners Corporation and what your committee would like to do about them.
With your Strata Manager present, you can ensure greater clarity of instructions, better minutes of your meeting and quicker turnaround on important action items.
How often should your committee meet?
As a general guide, Strata Plan suggests the following:
If your Owners Corporation is dealing with large issues like defects or potential legal proceedings, it may be prudent to meet more often than suggested above.
Emails are great for communicating one-on-one and for delivering instructions and/or documents, but they are a terrible platform for dialogue between multiple stakeholders discussing complex and important issues.
Too often, we see Strata Managers CC’d in email chains of dialogue. Sometimes, committee members miss an important email in the chain, other times Strata Managers receive conflicting instructions from different committee members.
In short, it’s simply not an efficient way of conducting business.
There will be times where urgent items need to be discussed and cannot wait for the next committee meetings. In these times it is important that committee members take guidance from their Strata Manager, discuss their options and give a clear instruction back to the Strata Manager via the elected chairperson.
That brings us to our next tip…
As chairperson, you should co-ordinate discussion within your committee, take votes on a matter and then instruct your Strata Manager in line with what has been decided by the committee as a whole.
Having multiple committee members providing instructions to the Strata Manager often means that items are not being properly discussed and decided upon by the committee.
If your committee is struggling to come to a decision on an important topic, it might be time to call for a committee meeting.
If you have asked for your Strata Manager to arrange quotes for works or services at your property, make sure you discuss them with your committee as soon as possible.
If you need guidance, feel free to contact Strata Plan and our Facilities Management and Strata Manager teams will be more than willing to offer advice on different contractors we have had experience with in the past.
The sooner you and your committee discuss and vote on which quote to go with, the sooner your works can get underway.
We see a wide range of people who take up positions on their committees, each one bringing their unique perspective and expertise to the equation.
But no one committee is an expert in everything and from time to time it makes sense to lean on the expertise of an external party.
This could be a qualified building engineer to provide advice on building defects, a strata lawyer to provide advice on writing and implementing new Owners Corporation rules or legal matters relating to your Owners Corporation or a plumber to provide advice on water ingress issues.
Most contractors are more than happy to come out and meet committee members on site to look at issues or attend committee meetings to discuss their advice with all members at once.
The Owners Corporation Act (VIC) 2006 is very clear in stating one of the core functions of the Owners Corporation is to maintain and repair the common property.
This can sometimes mean you and your fellow committee members are faced with a tough decision, especially if you believe the issues with the common property are the fault of the builder or another party or if your Owners Corporation does not have the funds to complete the required repairs.
No doubt, this is a frustrating situation and it’s important that your committee gets all the facts before proceeding. This could include hiring an expert building engineer to inspect the property and provide a VCAT compliant defects report or investigating to see if the damage was caused by a lot owner, resident or visitor and on charging them the costs of repair.
Whichever road your committee takes, it’s important that steps are taken to fix the damage and mitigate any risk of further loss or damages. Failure to do so could have a wide range of serious repercussions from rejected insurance claims to litigation against the Owners Corporation or even individual committee members.
If your Owners Corporation is struggling for funds, call for a committee meeting and discuss the potential of raising a special levy.
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