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 help facilitate the smooth operation of your property. By efficiently sharing functions, you and your fellow owners can create a harmonious environment to live in and help grow the property 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 promptly and reasonably.
Suppose you’ve just volunteered or been appointed. In that case, this guide covers everything you need to know as a new committee member, from the role’s responsibilities to the steps involved in preparing for and running a strata meeting.
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, body corporate, or owners corporation property.
If there is a strata manager, the committee shares these administrative tasks with them. Still, if no manager is appointed, the committee is solely responsible for managing the property.
These days, the emergence of outsourced services and growing compliance requirements have encouraged many 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 committees are required to perform can be extensive and include:
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 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:
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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 help things stay on track, a strata committee has these elected office bearers including:
Presides over meetings conducted to help monitor and maintain adherance to relevant legislation. They also make determinations regarding procedural matters and quorums (minimum numbers of voters required).
Acts as the financial officer for the property, keeping accounting records and generally dealing with invoices and financial payments and/or updates.
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.
Find out how to select your committee members and make sense of their roles and responsibilities.
There are three main types of strata, body corporate, or owners corporation meetings, and the committee’s responsibilities will differ depending on the kind of meeting that is being held.
These can be called as often as the strata committee wishes to meet to deal with day-to-day administrative matters. Their management role would typically involve the following:
The secretary notifies committee members and owners corporation/body corporate of the upcoming meetings plans the schedule and sets the agenda, which the committee then approves.
The chairperson convenes and conducts the committee meeting, ensuring proper procedures are followed and managing 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 strata, body corporate, or owners corporation within seven days.
These meetings are called to discuss urgent issues that require agreement from the owners corporation/body corporate before the next Annual General Meeting (AGM). They can then be contacted by the secretary, committee or owners corporation/body corporate. The typical procedures to follow are as detailed below:
The notice requesting the meeting is given to the secretary, and the 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 six 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 are required by legislation to be held once a year, and despite slight variations, the procedure is typically the same across all states.
The secretary calls the meeting, 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 wish).
Appointing or reappointing the strata manager and/or building manager (if applicable) or other service providers.
The following document provides guidance on how to operate effectively as a strata committee.
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 favour 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.
Suppose an owner can’t be present at a meeting. In that case, they can delegate their voting rights to another person, 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:
At a meeting by ballot paper or a show of hands
By completing a voting paper and giving it to the secretary before the start of the meeting
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.
As a committee member, you represent the owners corporation and have an active influence on decisions. Your vote matters.
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.
This is a common courtesy to your fellow lot owners, many of whom have been at work all day and want 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).
Draft motions in easy-to-understand terms that can't be misinterpreted. This will help prevent the meeting from getting side-tracked.
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 insults. 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.
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.
If your new role as a committee member has left you feeling out of your depth because of all the jargon 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 common terms with 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:
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 lighten their workload and increase their property values for many years.
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.