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By-law on electronic delivery of notices
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JC
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30/11/2017 - 9:49 am
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Hi,

Many of our owners resist supplying an e-mail address for delivery of notices, resulting in unnecessary costs to all owners.  There would be a very small number (if not zero) of owners without e-mail access.

Is anyone aware of a by-law which imposes a fee if an e-mail address for notices has not been provided (similar to those imposed by many financial institutions and utilities)?

Unlike the banks I would propose the fee be the actual cost of printing and delivering the hard copy - which for a significant AGM, including the Strata Manager's margin can be several $1000s in our building.

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JimmyT
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05/12/2017 - 12:40 am
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You have a legal obligation to deliver agendas and minutes so even if you had a by-law requiring people to provide their email addresses you would still have to post them out to the recalcitrants.

Now, I don't know if this is entirely legal but I think you would get away with it ... how about if you made the delivery of documents a line item on your building's strata levies.

You would want it to be a substantial figure but you allow a discount of that amount for people who registered their email addresses and agreed in writing to that this was an accepted method of delivery.

So, basically you are starting from the point of view that everybody gets their agendas etc delivered and pays, say, $20 for each meeting. However, those who accept emails get a $20 discount.

Or don't even have it as a line item.  Just offer a discount of a substantial amount for everyone who accepts notices by email.

It's not so much user pays as non-user doesn't pay.  That could work.

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bluehouse
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05/12/2017 - 5:05 pm
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Can you not get a Strata Noticeboard to post notices so that you comply with the requirements, and email people who would like you to do so for practical purposes (since most people won't read the noticeboard).  If owners don't want to provide email addresses then they have to rely on the official provision which is the noticeboard.  (I am in NSW - maybe requirements are different elsewhere)

Also our Strata Manager says we can get a by-law to allow for electronic delivery of official notices which we are thinking of doing, and I was under the impression that we could then just use email.  Is that not correct?

I have been resisting doing the latter because we have several houses without computers or who wont provide an email address and it didn't seem fair to those people, but the rest of the committee feel that in this day and age email is standard communication and notification by mail is the unusual situation.  If banks, government organisations and utilities are using email or the provision of statements and payments on their websites, then it is reasonable for us to replace our paper copies with email too, so they want to get the by-law to allow for electronic communication, or, if we cant do that, a noticeboard (but use unofficial email as well). It would certainly make my job as secretary easier.

As well as the issue of cost, email has the advantage of being fairly immediate. Due to the changes to the postage system we have had to postpone meetings in the past because the notices hadn't arrived 2 weeks later! (it has happened twice last year). The need to give 2-3 weeks notice of a meeting to ensure everyone gets their notice in time means that it is not possible to call a meeting quickly to deal with an issue. I think that in NSW Strata Laws says we need to give 3 days notice after the agenda arrive, so a meeting theoretically could be called in less than a week if it weren't for the need to send the notices by snail mail. 

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scotlandx
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05/12/2017 - 6:05 pm
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On the postage issue - you certainly don’t need to postpone or cancel a meeting because a notice isn’t received.  Provided it is sent within the timeframe, notice has been given. Section 76 of the Interpretations Act provides that a letter is deemed to have been received 4 working days after it is posted.

You can’t use the noticeboard for notices of general meeting.

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bluehouse
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06/12/2017 - 1:28 am
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Scotlandx, Its good to know that I don't need to postpone a meeting if notices haven't been received due to delayed post, but it does put me in the ridiculous situation of having to email or door knock everyone to let them know the meeting is on, if the notice and agenda haven't arrived yet.  it can be done, but to all practical (rather than legal) purposes really makes the postage of notices redundant if I have had to communicate with owners some other way anyway.  I'd still have to postpone the meeting if we didn't get a quorum to run the meeting due to the fact no one knew it was on. 

I understand your answer is based on legislation but with the changes to the postal system last year, 4 days is not entirely realistic anymore unless you pay for priority mail. The Australia Post website says priority mail has an expected delivery time of 1 to 4 working days and regular mail, 1 to 6 working days. 

We have been using priority mail since we postponed the 2 meetings last year (because we thought we had to postpone them - now i know better), but Priority mail costs 50c extra per letter. So now I know, we can go back to regular mail and take our chances that the letters will arrive in time for anyone to know there is a meeting on. (this seems to have some potential for excluding some members, especially non-resident owners or those who wont use email)

When you say one can't use a noticeboard for general meetings, are you implying one could be used for notice for committee meetings?  That would still save the largest chunk of our postage costs.

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scotlandx
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06/12/2017 - 10:07 pm
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Right - so you have a group of people who don't want to give email addresses for receipt of notices, and then when notices of meeting are mailed to them, they don't get them.

This is remarkable.

I suggest you toughen up, and if someone says they didn't get a notice, too bad.  And stop running around after them.

In relation to a quorum, the legislation now provides that if there isn't a quorum, you adjourn, and then if there is still no quorum the meeting can go ahead.

Section 264 provides that if someone's email address is on the strata roll you can serve notices to them by email.

In relation to Committee meetings, Schedule 2 provides that for large schemes notice must be given to each Committee member and each owner either by post or by leaving at the address of the lot.  In the case of other schemes, notice is given by putting the notice on the notice board - you don't have to mail it or leave it at the address.

Note in relation to general meetings that notice must also be given to any tenants that have been notified in accordance with the Act.

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Stevecro
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08/12/2017 - 8:59 am
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I agree with scotlandx, you need toughen up and not worry too much about those who say they didn't receive the notice by post. Your role is to post the notice, nothing more. You, like the rest of us, aren't in control of Australia Post and delivery times.

What I always suggest to schemes is to go beyond the requirements of the Interpretations Act and give at least 7 working days for postage to eliminate any arguments from owners who believe insufficient notice was given. Its really not that difficult to give that extra 3 working days.

I am not sure whether a by-law which allowed an OC to charge those who don't have email addresses for services of notices would stand up in a Tribunal or Court. It could be argued by those affected that it is harsh, unconscionable or oppressive as many elderly and not so elderly people do not have computers or email addresses.

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JimmyT
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08/12/2017 - 10:24 am
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Stevecro said
I am not sure whether a by-law which allowed an OC to charge those who don't have email addresses for services of notices would stand up in a Tribunal or Court. It could be argued by those affected that it is harsh, unconscionable or oppressive as many elderly and not so elderly people do not have computers or email addresses.  

I don't want to pick a fight here but it seems odd to me that you are telling people to "toughen up" and not adhere too strictly to the letter of the law on sending out notices (with which I agree) but shying away from a measure designed to get those who have email addresses to use them.

Everybody gets charged, albeit indirectly, for the delivery of "dead tree" notices.  All you need to do is offer a discount to those who allow email delivery (the same way that you can offer a discount on levies to those who pay promptly or in advance).

The reason is obvious - sending out emails costs nothing, hence the discount.

I don't even think you need a by-law. It's just the committee acting in a way that benefits the whole community and doesn't affect anyone adversely since they would just be paying their share of delivery costs anyway.

There is no surer way of focussing owners' minds on issues than putting a price on them. I can't see a discount for email deliveries being effectivelly challenged in either an AGM or a Tribunal.

Is offering a discount to owners who can afford to pay their levies in advance unfair or discriminatory against those who can't? Whatever we think, the government says no.

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bluehouse
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11/12/2017 - 6:38 pm
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scotlandx said
Right - so you have a group of people who don't want to give email addresses for receipt of notices, and then when notices of meeting are mailed to them, they don't get them.

This is remarkable.

I suggest you toughen up, and if someone says they didn't get a notice, too bad.  And stop running around after them.

I think you have misunderstood me, but when I explain you will only think it more remarkable.  The following explains the situation I was working under - there are many things I now know are wrong and can be changed:

Because our SM said we need a by-law allowing electronic delivery of notices at all, we were posting them to all owners to meet the legal requirements (since we don't have a noticeboard). Then they weren't arriving on time. So if I followed your advice and "toughened up" and don't put the effort into informing people myself as well, no one but me would know to come to the meeting.

I know that multiple people weren't just claiming that they hadn't received the notices because I also hadn't received mine.  (Our notices are prepared by me but posted by the SM because she won't share the details of the Strata Roll - which I now know to also be wrong).  I was told that the notices actually had to have arrived with enough days notice, so if they hadn't we had to postpone the meeting.

There is resistance to passing such a by-law because not everyone has an email address. Apart from one person, I don't think this is a matter of refusing to supply it - those people don't have computers or use email at all. If the SM would then only used email for notices, as she said would be the case, it would exclude those without it, who are the older owners. 

I could "run around" after our owners, using email, door knocking to collect more email addresses myself, or telling people in person, so that I could inform at least some of them of notices on an unofficial basis, if the mailed copy hasn't arrived. That hopefully ensures that I have a quorum to hold meetings and, preferably, full attendance by the committee (I also have an ulterior motive in trying to increase attendance and interest in meetings by our chronically apathetic owners and committee. Because with such interest we will have more chance of getting a committee at all again next year. And, maybe, I can pass on this role of secretary....).

But doing the running around is the more annoying because of the costs of the wasted postage that is then functionally redundant.

So the situation was certainly remarkable.  And infuriating.  And apparently, largely unnecessary...... 

But thanks to this thread I now know I have been labouring under a multitude of misunderstandings and poor pieces of advice. I now have a number of options for improving things, reducing costs and reducing fuss.  (and another reminder not to always trust what the SM says).

Thankyou.

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