Welcome to part five of a ten part series discussing the most commonly misunderstood issues related to strata living.
5. 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 (Body Corporate and Community Management Act Section 101). 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 (Standard Module Section 7), unless a body corporate manager is engaged in place of the committee to carry out the executive functions. (Standard Module Section 58, (Body Corporate and Community Management Act Section 122). 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 (Standard Module Section 53). 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 (Standard Module Section 50(1)).
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 (Standard Module Section 26(2))
The general duties of the committee members include:
Different Committee members can have different responsibilities, for example:
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” (Standard Module Section 26). 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 –
While there is a general prohibition on the committee’s power to commence litigation, the committee can start proceedings to (Standard Module Section 42(1) (e)) –
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.