Tuesday, May 24, 2022

Rogue Strata Secretary

Rogue Strata Secretary

Simon, from NSW, asks can the strata secretary convene a meeting without the knowledge of the chairperson and treasurer

I have a situation where a strata manager has proposed an EGM on the basis that one of the committee members is at odds with the other two.

On the committee, the Chairperson and Treasurer responded to the proposal stating there was no need for an EGM as any relevant issues were all covered by existing By-laws. However, it would appear the Secretary (who is the person with grievances regarding having to abide by said by-laws) seems to have worked with the strata manager to ensure the EGM was organised.

As a result, the EGM was announced much to the surprise of the Chairperson and Treasurer and other owners. There are 6 units in the strata.

My question is, does the Secretary have the right to enforce the EGM to proceed? Essentially the Secretary is acting in self-interests only on matters that are clear in existing bylaws that they simply feel should be changed to meet their personal preferences (it’s a new strata).

Hi Simon,

Thank you for your strata question.

Unfortunately, rogue strata committee members are common place. Even strata schemes with a committee code of conduct run into problems. 

As you are probably aware, the primary duty of all Owners Corporations, and its strata committee, is to control, administer and manage the common property for the benefit of all owners, tenants and occupants at the scheme. 

Section 37 of the Strata Schemes Management Act 2015 states; It is the duty of each member of a strata committee of an owners corporation to carry out his or her functions for the benefit, so far as practicable, of the owners corporation and with due care and diligence.

The Act is pretty clear that strata committee members should be free of personal agendas, agendas that are not for the benefit of all owners. That said, does this help your situation? Unfortunately, not. 

Read Related: Role of the Strata Secretary

General meetings (formally called extraordinary general meetings in NSW) should be held when needed. 

There are two ways to arrange/call/convene a strata general meeting of owners (Section 19): 

  • the Secretary or a strata committee can call one at any time, or;
  • if owners entitled to vote, who together hold at least a quarter of the total unit entitlements, ask for a meeting in writing. This is known as a ‘qualified request’

This places significant power in the hands of the rogue strata secretary. They can convene a general meeting and control the agenda without consultation with the strata committee or other owners. It would be preferable if Section 19 stated that the majority of the strata committee could call a general meeting and not the secretary on their own.

Read Related: Calling a Strata General Meeting

Where to from here?

The general meeting has been called, sure it is inconvenient, but it is legal. It sounds like you have the numbers to vote down any motions that are of concern to owners. The Act does however require that the owners corporation act in a reasonable way. 

As a long-term chairperson in a Sydney scheme, I’ve had to learn to let some annoying pointless motions slide for the greater good of the scheme and general ongoing harmony. 

Best of luck and please get back to us if you have further questions. 

Strataville Editorial
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