How to vote on owners corporation matters
We take you through how to vote on owners corporation matters during and outside of strata meetings
Did you know that there are many ways to vote on owners corporation matters? While some of these voting methods can only be utilised during annual general meetings, general meetings and strata committee meeting, many can be used outside of face-to-face meetings too.There are many ways owners vote on owners corporation matters. These ways of casting votes and vary a little depending on your state:
- There are five ways to vote on owners corporation matters in New South Wales
- There are five ways to vote on body corporate matters in Queensland
- There are four ways to vote on owners corporation matters in Victoria
There are five ways to vote on owners corporation matters in New South Wales
Here’s how strata property owners can cast their vote on owners corporation matters in New South Wales:
1. Voting by electronic vote
If electronic voting has been authorised by the owners corporation, owners can vote on owners corporation matters by teleconference, email, or other electronic means.
As of 5 June 2020, due to the Public Health Order relating to the COVID pandemic, all strata properties and community associations can now meet and vote electronically at general and committee meetings. Previously, strata properties could only meet and vote electronically if the owners corporation or strata committee had adopted a resolution to allow it. Community schemes laws did not previously provide for electronic voting.
2. Pre-meeting electronic voting
This method involves voting by email or other electronic means before the meeting. Both the owners corporation and strata committee can use this method of voting. However, this method cannot be used for elections.
3. Voting by poll vote
When using a poll vote to vote on owners corporation matters, votes are worked out by counting the unit entitlements rather than counting each vote for and against the motion.
4. Voting by way of secret ballot
This can occur if a minimum of one quarter of those entitled to vote on the motion (or election) requires a secret ballot to be conducted. Alternatively, the strata committee has the power to require that a motion (or election) is to be determined by secret ballot.
5. Priority vote
A mortgagee or covenant chargee registered on the strata roll can cast a priority vote. A priority vote on owners corporation matters may be cast on any of the following motions:
- A motion that relates to insurance, budgeting or the fixing of a levy
- A motion on owners corporation expenditure of an amount that exceeds that prescribed by the regulations
- A motion that requires a special resolution or unanimous resolution.
A vote by an owner does not count if a priority vote is cast for the lot concerning the same matter.
Voting rights, including a priority vote, cannot be exercised if the lot was unfinancial on the date notice of the meeting was given and did not pay the amounts owing before the meeting (with the exception of motions requiring a unanimous resolution).
There are five ways to vote on body corporate matters in Queensland
Here’s how body corporate property owners can cast their vote on body corporate matters in Queensland:
1. Voting personally
Owners can vote personally at a general meeting by a show of hands.
2. Voting by poll vote
A poll vote can only be used on a motion that can be decided by ordinary resolution. A poll vote cannot be used on a motion that is a secret ballot. Instead of counting each vote for and against a motion, a poll vote counts the contribution schedule lot entitlements of the lots voting for and against a motion. The motion can only be passed if the total contribution schedule lot entitlements of the lots that vote for the motion are more than the total contribution schedule lot entitlements of the lots that vote against the motion.
3. Voting by proxy
You can appoint a proxy by filling in the proxy form and giving it to the secretary before the start of the meeting. A proxy can be given by anyone who has the right to vote at a general meeting. The person must be a named individual, and the proxy cannot be transferred to a third person. A proxy is valid until the end of the body corporate’s financial year (unless a shorter period is listed on the proxy form).
4. Voting electronically
A body corporate can decide by ordinary resolution to allow voters to vote electronically. If this happens, you can send an electronic vote to the secretary. The vote must be made according to the Electronic Transactions (Queensland) Act 2001 and the instructions must be given with the meeting voting papers.
5. Voting outside a general meeting
A body corporate property registered under the Commercial Module and the Small Strata Scheme Module can decide on motions outside a general meeting. This can occur for any type of resolution if:
- A vote is cast for each lot by a person entitled to vote at a general meeting, but not a proxy
- Each vote is a “yes” vote
- Each vote is in writing.
A body corporate property registered under the Standard Module and the Accommodation Module cannot vote outside a general meeting.
3. You can sometimes allocate your vote to a representative
Here’s how owners corporation property owners can cast their vote on owners corporation matters in Victoria:
1. Owners corporation voting by show of hands
Those attending a general meeting will usually vote on owners corporation matters by way of a “show of hands” of those who are present in person. The chairperson, secretary or strata manager records attendance and counts the raised hands or voting cards. If the required number of votes is not achieved, the decision will be an “interim decision”.
Interim decisions – ordinary resolutions
Notice of interim ordinary resolutions and minutes of the meeting will be sent to the lot owners. The decision can only be acted on after 29 days if no petition has been received or a special general meeting has been called.
The chairperson has the casting vote if the:
- The vote count is equal
- The required votes have been obtained
- The chairperson is a lot owner or holds a lot owner’s proxy.
Interim decisions – special resolutions
If at least 50 per cent of the votes supported a special resolution, and not more than 25 per cent voted against it, the resolution is passed as an “interim decision”. A notice of the interim special resolution decision and minutes of the meeting must be sent to lot owners within 14 days. The decision can only be acted on after 29 days if no petition has been received. The special resolution fails if the secretary receives, within 29 days of the ballot closing, a petition from lot owners holding more than 25 per cent of the total votes for all the lots.
2. Voting by ballot
If owners vote on owners corporation matters by ballot, the percentage of votes required to pass resolutions by ballot relates to the total number of lots or lot entitlements —not to the percentage of owners who may attend a meeting or respond to a ballot.
For example, an owner may own more than one lot and therefore may have more than one vote. Voting by ballot on a special resolution must be carried out according to lot entitlements.
Providing notice for a ballot vote
A lot owner calling for a ballot must give written notice of the proposed motion to the secretary. The secretary should give at least 14 days written notice of a ballot which must contain the closing date of the ballot, the resolution required, the motion to be voted on, who to contact for queries, and the method of returning the ballot paper.
Passing a vote by ballot
The ballot fails if a petition is received, representing at least 25 per cent of all lot entitlements, to amend the motion or are against the motion. If at least 50 per cent of the votes received support an ordinary resolution, the resolution is passed.
Counting ballot papers
The committee can decide whether a ballot paper will be counted – i.e. whether it has been received on time and whether the proxy, power of attorney or company representative is valid.
3. Electronic voting – circulating resolution
A circulating resolution is a document that is sent to lot owners electronically, in order to vote on owners corporarion matters. Each lot owner states their vote in the document before sending it on to the next lot owner. The resolution passes on the day and time when the document is completed by a lot owner whose vote achieves the required majority.
4. Voting on behalf of a deceased owner
If a relative of a deceased owner wants to vote on owners corporations matters, the relative would need to prove to the owners corporation that they are a duly appointed representative of the estate. Given the complexity that can arise with persons seeking to participate and vote at meetings on behalf of a deceased owner, our recommendation is for the owners corporation to first obtain legal advice before acting.Having set up the very first strata scheme in Australia back in 1948, we’ve come a long way in our knowledge and experience across a variety of property types. Whether you are new to strata management or an active committee member, we have developed an extensive library of resources to assist you. Click here to download our FREE Community Living guide on committee management. For a consultation to review your current by-laws with the Kemp Peterson team, click here. To find out more about the services we offer, click here for a free strata assessment.