Covid-19 has changed the world and strata seems to be an area of concern skipped over by the Government. With a lack of official guidelines, strata health announcements, or even acknowledgement that ‘isolation’ in strata buildings is going to be different then a free-standing house, it’s been left to industry experts to provide guidance to owners and residents.
This isn’t a bad thing. Nobody knows strata like ‘strata people’- but with the internet being our only way to communicate it seems everyone with a keyboard and an opinion is now an ‘expert’- and there has been some worrying advice out there.
We’re going to be doing an entire set of resources on the financial aspects of strata during Covid-19, and in particular the dangers associated with the idea of simply not taking action to collect over-due levies without a proper financial plan in place. Watch this space.
This blog is focusing on the consequences of not holding meetings. And how holding meetings, not-in-person is not that difficult.
The Strata Schemes Management Act 2015 does not provide provision for decisions to be made in any other way except in a meeting. Whether that be a general meeting of all owners, or a strata committee meeting. So unless you plan to put everything on hold, which for most buildings, won’t be an option, you’ll need to hold meetings.
The strata committee have always had the ability to conduct meetings in writing. They can, by resolution, also conduct meetings by other methods, including telephone and video conference. Which means this one is easy to solve. If the committee have not as yet passed a resolution to hold video/telephone conference meetings they can do so via a meeting held in writing.
Important and urgent decisions committee’s are likely to need to consider during the crisis;
- Management of the common property, including arranging additional cleaning and rubbish removal.
- The use of common property facilities such as gyms and pools.
- Whether or not to ‘pause’ the accumulation of interest on over-due levies.
- Having an action plan should someone in the building test positive.
- Decisions in relation to non-routine works.
Meetings of the Owners Corporation are a little more complex. Which may be why I’ve seen advice telling people to just ‘hold out’ having an AGM. However, unless your building has a large surplus in the Administrative Fund, a ‘roll over’ clause for the continued collection of levies and a budget that will still meet expenses in the event a number of owners cannot pay levies, you’ll NEED to hold your AGM.
Like the strata committee, the owners corporation need to have passed a resolution to hold a meeting other then in person. If your Owners Corporation has not done so, a meeting can be held with only the chairperson present, who in turn may hold proxies, in accordance with the proxy limits that apply in your building.
The only motions for the meeting to consider will be:
- Approve the minutes of the last meeting (this motion can be deferred to the next meeting; and
- Approve to hold meeting other than in person.
Once approved, the Owners Corporation can proceed with holding its AGM by video and teleconference.
It is best to use an application to hold the meeting that allows telephone AND internet participation and where you can hold ‘polls’ – that is vote, easily.
Notice periods for meetings will still apply, as do the requirements in relation to what information is required on an agenda, and what must be issued with meeting papers.
It will take practice for everyone to get efficient at this new method, but there is no reason to delay holding important meetings. Especially when proactive financial management will be required for the majority of buildings with the likelihood of significant drops on income (levies) while people are out of work.
The Owners Corporation may also hold a meeting by pre-meeting electronic voting. This is a great option for simple, two motion meetings where the subject matter has already been discussed. There are some things to know if holding meetings this way however.
- You cannot elect a strata committee by electronic pre-meeting
- The ballot paper must include instructions on how to vote
- The ballot paper must include the motion in full form
- Voting must open 7 days prior to the close of the ballot
- The motion cannot be amended.
With these options available there is no reason for owners and committee’s to not be holding crucial meetings during these challenging times.