New committee member series

Your guide to being a new committee member

Serving on a strata, body corporate or owners corporation committee is a duty that carries with it no expectation of a fee or reward. It involves giving up your free time to ensure that the strata property you and your fellow owners share functions smoothly and efficiently, create a harmonious environment to live in and that the property grows in value into the future.

But it doesn’t have to be an onerous task. If your committee shares its workload with a competent strata manager, for example, you should be able to get the job done in a timely and reasonable manner.

If you’ve just volunteered or been appointed, this guide covers everything you need to know as a new committee member, from the responsibilities of the role to the steps involved in preparing for and running a strata meeting.

What is a strata committee?

A strata, body corporate or owners corporation committee (which we will refer to as a “strata committee” from here on in) is a group that represents the owners, makes decisions on their behalf and oversees the day-to-day administrative duties of a strata property.

If there is a strata manager, the committee shares these administrative tasks with them, but if no manager has been appointed, then the committee is solely responsible for managing the strata property.

These days, the emergence of outsourced services and growing compliance requirements have encouraged many strata owners to enlist the help of an industry professional such as a strata manager.

With some property owners out there still preferring to go it alone, the duties their strata committees are required to perform can be extensive and include:

  • Managing common property areas and scheduling and overseeing maintenance and repairs
  • Collecting strata levies and unpaid or overdue fees from residents
  • Taking care of financials such as budgets, invoices and financial statements
  • Obtaining insurance quotes and managing insurance claims as they arise
  • Coordinating and running strata committee meetings, extraordinary general meetings (EGMs) and annual general meetings (AGMs)
  • Maintaining compliance with state strata legislation by keeping required records
  • Mediating in any disputes that may arise between residents
  • Having by-laws drafted, updated and amended as required
  • Responding to breaches of by-laws or building rules and escalating as appropriate.

Who are strata committee members?

Committee members are lot owners who have volunteered or have been asked to serve on a strata committee to represent the interests of their fellow strata owners or owners corporation.

The number of members on a strata committee varies by state and with the size of the strata property.

  • In New South Wales, large strata titles with over 100 lots must have at least three committee members
  • In Queensland, the number of committee members will be between three and seven, depending on the size of the property
  • In Victoria, a committee must have a minimum of three and no more than 12 members, including a chairperson and secretary.

The role of a committee member comes with a legal duty of care and every member has an obligation to:

  • Act honestly and in good faith in the best interests of the owners corporation
  • Exercise due care and diligence
  • Not make improper use of their position.

What do strata committee members do?

Strata committee members tend to make decisions on matters that require a normal resolution, such as maintenance issues, disputes amongst residents or requests for permission to keep pets. Resolutions cannot be used to make changes to common property, levy contributions or by-laws and building rules, which must be voted on by a majority of all of the owners.

To ensure things stay on track, a strata committee has these elected office bearers, including:

Chairperson image

Chairperson – presides over meetings to ensure that they are conducted following relevant legislation. They also make determinations regarding procedural matters and quorums (minimum numbers of voters required).

Treasurer – acts as the financial officer for the strata property, keeping accounting records and generally dealing with invoice payments, and updates on financial payments.

Secretary image

Secretary – attends to all the administrative requirements including sending out notices for meetings, maintaining the strata roll, answering communications, receiving voting papers, convening meetings and recording the minutes.

The role of a strata committee

Find out how to select your committee members and make sense of their roles and responsibilities.

  • Selecting your strata committee
  • What does a strata committee do?
  • How can a strata manager help?
Role of strata committee thumbnail

Strata committee meeting management 101

There are 3 main types of strata meetings, and the committee’s responsibilities will differ depending on the kind of meeting that is being held.

 

Strata committee meetings

These can be called as often as the strata committee wish to meet to deal with day to day administrative matters. Their management role would typically involve the following:

  • The secretary notifies strata committee members and owners corporation of the upcoming committee meetings, plans the schedule and sets the agenda, which the strata committee then approves.
  • The chairperson convenes and conducts the committee meeting, ensuring proper procedures are followed and managing any conflicts of interest and differences of opinion.
  • The secretary records the minutes during the meeting, has the committee sign off on them after the meeting and then distributes a copy to all the committee members and owners corporation within seven days.

 

Extraordinary general meetings (EGMs)

These meetings are called to discuss issues that have arisen which require agreement from the owners corporation and which can’t wait until the next Annual General Meeting (AGM). They can be called by the secretary, the strata committee or the owners corporation and the following procedures are typically followed:

  • The notice requesting the meeting is given to the secretary and the strata committee decides on the agenda, which includes the motions(s) to be voted on at the meeting
  • The secretary prepares a voting paper for open motions or a secret voting paper for motions to be decided by secret ballot
  • The secretary calls the meeting within 14 days and the meeting is held within 6 weeks of receiving the notice
  • The motions are voted on and either passed, defeated or deferred and after the meeting, the secretary provides a copy of the minutes to all property owners.

 

Annual general meetings (AGMs)

Annual general meetings are required by legislation to be held once a year and despite slight variations, the procedure is typically the same across all states.

The meeting is called by the secretary and all owners are notified and provided with an agenda. The meeting is then held and items of discussion typically include:

  • Reviewing the minutes of last year’s AGM
  • Discussing what has been done over the year and any outstanding matters that still need attention
  • Voting in favour of having the accounts audited (annual audits are mandatory in most states and a vote not to audit would require special circumstances)
  • Discussing the strata financials including levy arrears, insurance renewals, council and agency fees
  • Voting to approve the budget and levies
  • Voting on whether the existing fire consultant is to remain in the role
  • Electing new committee members and office bearers (existing committee members can put themselves forward for re-election if they so wish)
  • Appointing or reappointing the strata manager and/or building manager (if applicable) or other service providers.

How to run a strata meeting

The following document provides guidance on how to operate effectively as a strata committee.

  • The key essentials to strata meeting management
  • What happens at an AGM of a strata property?
  • Meeting preparation for a general meeting
How to run a strata meeting thumbnail

Strata voting and resolutions

Owners and committee members have one vote each and decisions are typically made by ordinary resolutions (majority vote). If the result of a vote is a tie (i.e. 50% for and 50% against), the motion will be considered defeated, as a majority has not been attained.

Another type of vote is a special resolution, which is where at least 75% of votes must be in favour of a motion for it to be passed. Situations when this can be called for include motions with serious implications such as calls to alter common property, levy fees or by-laws.

The third kind of vote is a unanimous resolution, where everyone must be in favour of a motion before it can be passed. This is mainly used when voting on fundamental decisions such as selling common property or altering boundaries, lot entitlements or lot liability.

Circumstances, where votes will not count, include those lodged by non-voting members such as a strata manager, building manager, tenant or guest of an owner and by members whose levies are in arrears at the time of voting.

If an owner can’t be present at a meeting, they can delegate their voting rights to another person, which is known as voting by proxy (except for committee members voting at committee meetings, who cannot use a proxy).

Other ways to cast your vote as an owner can include:

In person – at a meeting by ballot paper or a show of hands

In writing – by completing a voting paper and giving it to the secretary before the start of the meeting

Electronically – by teleconference, email or other electronic means.

Voting ensures that decisions are made fairly and that all owners have an equal say in the management of the strata property. By knowing your rights and responsibilities and voting when the opportunity presents itself, you can ensure that your voice as an owner will always be heard.

Voting and resolutions

As a committee member, you represent the owners corporation and have an active influence on decisions. Your vote matters.

  • How to make committee meeting decisions
  • Strata voting
  • Tenant participation in strata matters
Voting and resolutions guide thumbnail

Best practice tips for running a strata meeting

If you find yourself in the position of having to run a strata meeting, either because you have been elected chairperson or because you are filling in for someone else, the following are some useful tips to keep in mind.

  • Start on time – this is a common courtesy to your fellow lot owners, many of whom have been at work all day and are wanting to get home to their families.
  • Stick to the subject – stay on track and don’t allow people with their agendas to hijack the topic (setting a time limit on comments is an effective way to keep things moving).
  • Be concise – draft motions in easy to understand terms that can’t be misinterpreted. This will ensure that the meeting doesn’t get side-tracked.
  • Be prepared – always have a copy of any relevant supporting documents on hand in case you are asked a difficult question. Not having the right answer could lead to the motion failing or being postponed.
  • Choose your battles – don’t take challenges to your authority as personal affronts. Ask the person the reason for their opinions and if you’re at all unsure about your arguments, you can always postpone the item until the next meeting when you can come better prepared.

Meeting management basics

When it comes to attending your first committee meeting, you’ll need to learn what meeting protocols you should follow to get the most out of your meetings.

  • The key players in strata management
  • How a strata committee can help your property
  • Who does what on a strata committee?

Unsure of the lingo in strata?

If your new role as a committee member has left you feeling out of your depth because of all the jargon that’s used, we’ve included a link to our Strata Dictionary to help you make sense of it all.

It’s a free tool to help you grasp some of the common terms in relation to strata legislation and etiquette, so you can participate in strata matters with a little more confidence.

New South Wales, Queensland and Victoria all have their interpretations of strata terms, so along with common definitions, the dictionary includes strata terminology (New South Wales), body corporate terminology (Queensland) and owners corporation terminology (Victoria).

Need more advice?

With a bit of luck, this guide has armed you a little better for your next committee meeting, but if you have any questions or need more information, we’re always here for you at PICA Group.

We’re Australia’s leading property services provider, with more than 200,000 lots under management and a complete range of services delivered by a network of local businesses.

From strata and facilities management to legal services, debt recovery and developer services, we’ve been helping strata committees to lighten their workload and increase their property values for many years now.

If your strata committee doesn’t have the time, expertise or resources to manage your property the way you’d like, we’re happy to offer as much or as little assistance as you need. To talk with an expert member of our strata management team regarding strata management services available to you, simply fill out the form on this page and we’ll be in contact with you soon.

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