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Can a committee member ask to be paid?
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Krusty
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04/07/2017 - 10:57 am
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Hi all,

My first post on this forum but I am sure those more learned than I will have some insight into a recent development in our strata building.

A (young, high-ranking naval officer, with an even higher-ranking wife) is now a (first time) committee member who has taken it upon himself to become the buildings vigilante. I received a very pointed email yesterday forwarded by a committee member regarding one of our tenants that who had caused some scuffmarks on the hallway walls & ceiling when they moved out last weekend. The email was also sent to all committee members, (humiliating) the strata manager, but not me, (due to a wrong email address).

What offended me was his demands that we pay for the damage (obviously – we know that). Worse, he gave us a two-day period to guarantee it would be addressed, plus a deadline of four days for the remedial work to be completed. This is the Strata Managers jurisdiction & not his.

My concern though is about this extract: “On the agenda for the last committee meeting was the proposal that XXX be paid $5000 a quarter to run the building (over and above the Strata Manager’s fee)". I was a committee member for over ten years & did not expect any recompense.

The question is can a committee member ask or expect this? If so then why won’t all committee members expect payment?

Any guidance or advice would be much appreciated.

Thank you. Smile

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JimmyT
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04/07/2017 - 1:55 pm
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You get this a lot - usually it's people who don't want anyone else to do the work but then demand that they get paid for it as they view themselves as somehow indispensable.

It sounds like they are asking to be paid as a caretaker and, if so, you would want them to have a contract that listed their duties, the minimum number of hours they would work in a week, being available to owners and to carry their own public liability insurance - and, not least, conditions of employment that would include liability for their actions and grounds for dismissal.

Apart from that, strata committee member can be paid for being on the committee - but only retrospectively. That means a motion goes to the AGM to pay them for work done in the previous year which, at the very least, means owners have had a chance to see what they bring to the building.

Based on his cack-handed and bullying approach to your issue, I would tell him to go and spend a week getting some strata management training and then come back and ask for a job.

It's bad enough having an ignorant know-all and a bully on your committee ... you shouldn't have to pay them too.

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Missy
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04/07/2017 - 2:51 pm
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Speaking from experience, they tend to act in self interest and simply want to get something out of it, rather than what is best for the strata.

Just to add to JimmyT's comments.

If you do choose to go ahead with an onsite manager, make sure that you also look at insurance, statement of duties, how they will be paid (wages or contract).  This adds all sorts of legal & insurance implications.  It also costs your time, other committee members time and strata manager costs.

Also any contract to be done up independently of this person so no bias.  Also the invoices they send you must be proper invoices, conforming to ATO standards.  Also make sure you are able to contact this person and hold them account of there work.

Also you may want to look at a competitive tender process.  That way you can honestly say this is the best person for the position.  Get a proper signed contract then you can hold them account for their actions.

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shawtodds
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03/08/2017 - 6:03 pm
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Interesting situation Krusty.  I have a similar question along the same line as yours if anyone can shed some light on this issue. Briefly:

I am in strata building of 3 units and I am  the only owner/resident.The other 2 apartments are owned by 1) SMSF 2) Owner lives in country town 400km's from building. As I am the only person able to meet and supervise tradespeople, get repairs actioned, make telephone calls, print and put notices on notice board, liase trades work with tenants etc etc I am performing hours and hours of work because I am only owner on site and someone has to do it. However I feel a bit taken advantage of  and that I am managing one owners SMSF ( at least this component of it) and the other owner seems very happy that I am in this situation.As an example I recently I spent 9 months getting Sydney Water to fix a water leak in one of the absentee  owner's garage,involving 10 - 20 phone calls , 5 onsite meetings with technicians, one with a water tester etc etc etc.

My question is can or should I be paid for my time, phone calls, printer costs etc to make things fairer ? I am thinking something reasonable like $20 per hour ?

We have a strata manager however all the work mentioned above can only be done by someone onsite and that's me.

Many thanks in advance for any ideas.

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scotlandx
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03/08/2017 - 6:57 pm
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You sound like a very nice person.

I am a bit puzzled as to why you spent all that time and effort fixing a leak in someone else's garage.  I think in such a case I would just pull the plug, perhaps because I have done it before and got no thanks.

You have two options, which aren't mutually exclusive:

- enter into some sort of caretaker agreement which would involve quite a bit of paperwork, but at least that way you have certainty going forward

- put up a resolution to be paid for the time and work in the past year for approval at the next AGM, with an itemised list of what you did.  $20 an hour is cheap.  

If the other owners refuse to pay you, then you should advise them that you will not be doing anything further of that nature.

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shawtodds
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03/08/2017 - 8:41 pm
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Thanks Scotlandx appreciate your view of this . Re: the garage ,it started as a slow leak and eventually got up  to 1.5 litres per minute and the water was emanating from behind the garage wall on common property.The tenants didn't care , the SMSF owner is totally hands off not interested and the other owner is 400km away unable to contribute even if they wanted to .The strata manager is a slow working dodderer but all we can get due to the small size of SP.Someone had to manage it and that was me otherwise it would never have gotten fixed and being the only owner/occupant of the building I had to look at a streaming torrent of water every day which really bugged me.  At one point I was riding around in the Sydney Water van with the technician looking for upline leaks! Who needs this ? They even checked the water usage accounts of nearby properties to see if there was any spikes in an effort to find where this water was coming from and I was dealing with incompetants at SW and talking to a different person everytime. It was a freaking nightmare that took 9 months to get sorted. LIke I said many hours of frustrating , totally unenjoyable work . I don't want the payment for the moneys sake but only to be compensated in recognition of the unfairness of the situation. I will definately do one of the two options you suggest.Leaning at this stage to itemise my work over the next 12 months and present them with a bill.  It will be interesting to see their reaction as they can out vote me 2/1 but they may think twice if I refuse to do the same for the next year.

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Sir Humphrey
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04/08/2017 - 8:21 am
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ST. I feel for you and the dilemma you are in. You could try to wash your hands of responsibility but then you are 1/3 responsible no matter what. If you don't do things like, for example, sorting out the water leak on common property, you damage your own interest. On the other hand, you are being taken advantage of. You can only be compensated with the agreement of the other owner. I think you can't expect compensation for past voluntary activity. Perhaps you have to use this example to put the strata manager and the other owner on notice that you will not be available to attend to the next matter, whatever that may be. Ask the SM and other owner to propose a solution. It might be that the SM actually attends and deals with things, perhaps with a higher fee. It might be that they offer you a fee for responding on site - but let them come up with a proposal first. 

Until you stop rescuing them, they won't feel any need to engage constructively. So, give them warning now that you might not be available. If need be, invent a sick relative that you expect to need to visit regularly for extended periods in the coming year. 

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Sir Humphrey
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04/08/2017 - 8:56 am
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Krusty said
... young, high-ranking naval officer ... is now a (first time) committee member who has taken it upon himself to become the buildings vigilante. I received a very pointed email ... What offended me was his demands that we pay for the damage (obviously – we know that). Worse, he gave us a two-day period to guarantee it would be addressed, plus a deadline of four days for the remedial work to be completed.

I have developed a pet theory that some high-ranking people (military and elsewhere) have little experience of working collaboratively with peers. Rather they are accustomed to doing what they are told by those superior and expect unquestioning obedience from those below.

For a first communication on a minor matter, I would expect a polite face-to-face conversation or email along the lines of: 'This damage has been pointed out to the committee and we believe it was your tenant. We are pointing it out in case you had not been aware of it. We can arrange for the repair but we would then have to bill you for it. Could you please get in touch to discuss further? Here are our contact details...' This takes a bit longer but tries to avoid offence. If that initial approach is ignored, then it is time to get heavy with deadlines to respond etc. 

This is the Strata Managers jurisdiction & not his.

Actually, it is the committee's jurisdiction to instruct the strata manager about how to handle such matters. I would have a quiet word to others on the committee and suggest to them that their new colleague is going to rub people up the wrong way and the whole committee will be tarred with the same brush. After all, 'everybody knows' that only 'little Hitlers' joins strata committees and that expectation will be confirmed in the popular imagination by the smallest things. 

My concern though is about this extract: “On the agenda for the last committee meeting was the proposal that XXX be paid $5000 a quarter to run the building (over and above the Strata Manager’s fee)". I was a committee member for over ten years & did not expect any recompense.

The question is can a committee member ask or expect this? If so then why won’t all committee members expect payment?

They can ask! Smile

$20,000pa to be an on-site contact person seems like a very generous compensation, especially when you are paying for a managing agent already. For this to have any chance of success at the next AGM, I think it would need to be a very clearly spelled out proposal. I expect that most OC members will be very sceptical and have no idea how much work a dedicated committee member does. Even OC members who are sympathetic and appreciative don't really understand how much we do. 

Where I am, such a proposal would be very likely to fail. Some would object because they don't think much work is done and they are still bitter because one committee 'failed' to attend to their pet gripe quickly enough 15 years ago. Others would object because they did their time on the committee for a year or two 25 years ago without payment so they feel they have done their bit. Others would say the committee should just let the manager do the job they are paid for (without understanding that the manager needs oversight).

At most, somebody not on the committee might propose a vote of thanks for the past committee at the next AGM and include a motion that some nominal amount from the budget be approved for each of the out-going committee to be given a bottle of wine or a dinner voucher. Even if one person did most of the work, it would have to be the same for all committee members.  Often even the rest of the committee doesn't appreciate just how much one person did.

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Daniel3
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30/09/2017 - 11:43 am
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So happy to find useful information here. Thanks a lot.

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