Most commonly misunderstood issues related to strata living – The Committee


It is often the case that lot owners misunderstand the difference between their committee and their body corporate manager.

The committee is the executive arm of the body corporate. The committee has the duty of putting into effect the lawful decisions of the body corporate. It is a group charged with the decision-making power to deal with matters of lesser importance that confront a body corporate during the year. Every body corporate must have a committee , unless a body corporate manager is engaged in place of the committee to carry out the executive functions.. The committee is elected yearly at the annual general meeting.

Committee members are representatives of all owners, not just themselves. For this reason they must disqualify themselves from voting on any issue where they have a direct pecuniary financial interest, though the committee members may not be excluded from the meeting. Where a possible conflict concerns a non-voting committee member, voting members have the right to exclude the non-voting member of the committee from the meeting.

Committee members must be selfless in the way they go about their duties. They must take a long-term view of the body corporate to ensure the facilities management produces the most beneficial long-term impact on the community titles scheme. Generally, committee members are not entitled to payments for their services nor to reimburse their expenses unless such a payment is approved by ordinary resolution at general meeting. This resolution is subject to strict requirements.

The general duties of the committee members include:

  • Attending all the committee meetings each year – these meetings are called as required and are usually quarterly
  • Reading the meeting notices prior to attending the meeting
  • Attending to various jobs (e.g. obtaining quotes for painting or gardening)
  • Generally committee members do all these things without any remuneration for their time and talents

Different committee members can have different responsibilities, for example:

CHAIRPERSON:

  • Must chair every meeting (in the absence of the Chairperson another member may chair the meeting with agreement of the voting members)
  • Authorises the minutes of the previous Committee/General Meeting
  • Has the authority to rule a motion “Out of Order” at General Meetings
  • The Chairperson must be aware of the committee’s spending limit and authorisations imposed on the committee
  • Approves annual building insurance quotes and renewals

SECRETARY:

  • Generally calls committee meetings
  • To advise owners of any Committee Meetings by placing a copy of the Meeting Notice on the common property notice board, if applicable
  • Takes minutes of meetings in the absence of a body corporate manager
  • To keep record of the outcome of any decision taken outside of a meeting
  • Accepts from owners quotes and tenders for proposed major work (in conjunction with the body corporate manager)
  • Obtains quotes or tenders for major expenditure when the project is proposed by the committee
  • Prepares any correspondence required of the committee

TREASURER:

  • Pays authorised remuneration, allowances or expenses to a committee member
  • Approves draft of budget prepared by body corporate manager
  • Reviews monthly financials
  • Approves payment of invoices to be forwarded to body corporate manager
  • If authorised by the body corporate, borrows funds

ORDINARY COMMITTEE:

  • To enforce the Community Management Statement (CMS) including Body Corporate By-Laws
  • In the absence of a Building Manager, to organise ‘common property’ repairs and maintenance
  • To implement the lawful decisions of the Body Corporate
  • To administer the common property and body corporate assets for the benefit of all owners

The decision making power of the committee is defined by what it cannot do. It may make any decision of the body corporate except for decisions the Body Corporate and Community Management Act says it cannot make. The decisions it cannot make are called “restricted issues” . This means that the committee can do anything that is otherwise within the power of the body corporate, except for the following matters that can only be decided at a general meeting –

  • Fixing or changing the body corporate contributions for the year
  • Changing rights, privileges or obligations of the owners of lots in the scheme
  • Matters that the body corporate at general meeting has decided must only be considered at a general meeting (i.e. reserved issue)
  • Matters set out in the Act as requiring an ordinary resolution, a special resolution, a majority resolution or a resolution without dissent
  • Certain litigation matters
  • Certain payments to members of the committee.

While there is a general prohibition on the committee’s power to commence litigation, the committee can start proceedings to –

  • Recover a liquidated debt against the owner of a lot
  • Counter claims or other third party proceedings to which the body corporate is already a party
  • Enforce by-laws
  • Enforce adjudicator’s orders.

The community manager is responsible for overseeing all the decisions made by the committee and helps guide them in implementing these. The community manager also helps by ensuring by-laws or enforced and the community is fully functioning in terms of financials and harmony.

It is really important to be proactive within your community to ensure that if you’re not happy with something you can voice your opinions in changing it. If you’re a lot owner that’s not on the committee or not voting, then you’re leaving others to decide the important aspects of your own property!

If you’d like to find out more or have a question, please comment below.



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