Can/should an OC be involved in neighbourhood issues? | Strata Committees | Flat Chat Forum: Your Questions Answered




A A A

You must be registered and logged in to reply to posts or post new topics. Click on "How to Use This Forum" for simple instructions on how to get on board. NB: Please do not use your real name or email address as your screen name - if you do it will be changed to something less insecure.

Avatar

Please consider registering
Guest

Search

— Forum Scope —




— Match —





— Forum Options —





Minimum search word length is 3 characters - maximum search word length is 84 characters

Register Lost password?
sp_Feed sp_PrintTopic sp_TopicIcon
Can/should an OC be involved in neighbourhood issues?
Avatar
Austman
Victoria
Flat(chat)Mate
Members
Forum Posts: 305
Member Since:
22/01/2014
sp_UserOfflineSmall Offline
1
09/09/2017 - 2:44 pm
sp_Permalink sp_Print sp_EditHistory

The OC that I chair is having a committee meeting soon.

One of the committee members wants to add to the agenda:

That the OC contact the council re:

  • Street lighting.
  • Fading on-street parking line markings.
  • On-street tree protection. They might be damaged eg by trucks when parking.

While they are all reasonable matters, I wonder if they are outside an OC committee's (and even an OC's) jurisdiction?  Neighbour properties would be affected by the issues too - there are many properties in the street.

When I look at the OC Act (at least in Victoria) it's pretty clear that an OC's primary duty is to common property.  The very creation of an OC is due to the fact that common property exists when the strata plan is first registered. I can't see that any of the matters relate to an OC's duties around common property.

And I'm not even sure that an OC committee alone has the right to represent owners on matters that fall outside the OC Act.  An OC is not a rate payer and does not vote in council elections.  But individual owners are and do.

What are the opinions?  Can OC committees represent all the owners on matters that are essentially neighbourhood issues?  And if so, should they?  I'm concerned that the committee could be overstepping its authority.

Avatar
JimmyT
Admin
Forum Posts: 4641
Member Since:
06/01/2014
sp_UserOfflineSmall Offline
2
09/09/2017 - 3:04 pm
sp_Permalink sp_Print sp_EditHistory

I take a different view for two reasons. The first is that the strata committee represents a powerful and considered opinion.  The matter has been discussed and a consensus reached so it can't be so easily dismissed as the rantings of your run of the mill, common or garden, loony grumbler.

Secondly, after years of telling your residents that you (collectively) know best and that you will look after the best interests of the building and it's residents, it's not helpful to say that anything outside the front door but in the immediate vicinity is no concern of the strata committee's.

In most council areas the opinions of strata committees are taken very seriously at council (although they are by no means the deciding factor on issues).  The corollary of that is that the absence of an opinion may make the local authorities feel that it's not such a big problem after all (see previous references to individual rantings).

The strata committee is not a law unto itself.  It is representative of ALL owners (or it should be).  It is not an executive - which is why they changed the name - it is supposed to be representative.  

The voice of a powerful body can say a lot, but its silence speaks volumes.

Avatar
Austman
Victoria
Flat(chat)Mate
Members
Forum Posts: 305
Member Since:
22/01/2014
sp_UserOfflineSmall Offline
3
09/09/2017 - 3:23 pm
sp_Permalink sp_Print sp_EditHistory

JimmyT said
I take a different view for two reasons. The first is that the strata committee represents a powerful and considered opinion.  The matter has been discussed and a consensus reached so it can't be so easily dismissed as the rantings of your run of the mill, common or garden, loony grumbler.

Secondly, after years of telling your residents that you (collectively) know best and that you will look after the best interests of the building and it's residents, it's not helpful to say that anything outside the front door but in the immediate vicinity is no concern of the strata committee's.

 

But that's not our situation - at least not yet.   It hasn't been discussed at all - it's just one suggestion for an agenda item from one committee member.  It might not even be so important to the other committee members, other owners or to neigbouring properties.

And we haven't been telling our residents for years that we know best on neighborhood issues.

The question is more about is there even the right for a committee to take on neigbourhood issues as the representative of all owners/residents?  When the council informs us from their side about neighbourhood issues they write to individual owners, not to the OC.

When I read the OC Act, (Owners Corporations Act 2006 VIC s.4) titled "Functions and powers of owners corporation" nothing about neighbourhood issues is there.  It's seems very clear, at least to me, that it's all or at least mostly about common property. 

I question if a strata committee alone is even legally allowed to represent all OC owners on neigbourhood issues. Is it overstepping its authority?  I suspect it might be.

Avatar
Lady Penelope
StrataGuru
Members

Full Members
Forum Posts: 484
Member Since:
13/02/2016
sp_UserOfflineSmall Offline
4
09/09/2017 - 5:32 pm
sp_Permalink sp_Print

My two cents worth ... and from experience .... after successfully getting a Material Change of Use development knocked back that adjoined my scheme in QLD due to all of our owners writing separate letters, sometimes the 'thick file' principle works.

It can be more effective if Council gets lots of individual letters of complaint rather than one letter, even though the one letter represents many individual owners. When the statistical 'wonks' get their hands on the letters it is often times the total numbers of letters that is often counted not the numbers of people represented in the letters.

If the Committee agrees by Resolution at a Committee Meeting, maybe the Committee may like to draw the Owners' attention to these matters via the Committee Minutes and might like to include contact details for the relevant person on Council should the individual owners wish to follow up on this matter themselves. This approach should be deemed to be legal under the Act.

Avatar
Austman
Victoria
Flat(chat)Mate
Members
Forum Posts: 305
Member Since:
22/01/2014
sp_UserOfflineSmall Offline
5
09/09/2017 - 6:00 pm
sp_Permalink sp_Print sp_EditHistory

Lady Penelope said
My two cents worth ... and from experience .... after successfully getting a Material Change of Use development knocked back that adjoined my scheme in QLD due to all of our owners writing separate letters, sometimes the 'thick file' principle works.

Thanks for your input.  We currently have a planning development proposed for our adjoining property.  And being in the inner-city, it's actually physically adjoining! 

Their proposed works might even require a protection order for our property as they are planning a one floor excavation to add a cellar right on the border - beside the foundations of our building.

As that's an issue that potentially affects common property I see it very much a committee issue.

But for general neigbourhood issues, I'm not so sure a strata committee can get too involved as the representatives of all the owners.  I think it's more for individual owners and neighbours to get together.  So a committee suggestion that all concerned owners write to the council might be the answer.

I think though, as Jimmy T suggested, the committee member thinks a letter from the OC committee will have more "clout" with council than letters from some individual owners.

Avatar
Lady Penelope
StrataGuru
Members

Full Members
Forum Posts: 484
Member Since:
13/02/2016
sp_UserOfflineSmall Offline
6
09/09/2017 - 6:13 pm
sp_Permalink sp_Print

Why not try both!

Avatar
Sir Humphrey
Canberra
StrataGuru
Members

Full Members

Moderators
Forum Posts: 945
Member Since:
19/04/2011
sp_UserOfflineSmall Offline
7
09/09/2017 - 9:49 pm
sp_Permalink sp_Print sp_EditHistory

I don't see why the committee could not send a letter saying whatever is the considered opinion of the members of the strata committee. That would not be purporting to know the views of all members of the owners corporation but should carry some weight nonetheless as a group of people who pay attention to local matters. 

I recall an occasion when an owner wrote to our executive committee wanting us to object to the ACT government's proposal to install a joint fire and ambulance facility about 1.5km down the road from us. We did not know what owners might think of it and we didn't ask. Most committee members gave this NIMBY viewpoint little attention. It did however prompt me to send a personal submission in which mentioned my membership of our executive committee and I said that I expected that many residents would be pleased and reassured by the close proximity of such emergency services, particularly some of our elderly residents. 

The emergency services facility has since been built and I have related this tale to some of my neighbours since. All I have spoken to agreed that the committee was right to not act the bizarre request that we object to a facility that many would find reassuring to have close by. 

Avatar
Austman
Victoria
Flat(chat)Mate
Members
Forum Posts: 305
Member Since:
22/01/2014
sp_UserOfflineSmall Offline
8
09/09/2017 - 10:07 pm
sp_Permalink sp_Print

Lady Penelope said
Why not try both!  

Because I think the committee could be acting beyond its authority, outside the OC Act, if it claims to represent all OC owners on general neighborhood issues.

In the very few times that a council has contacted my OC/BCs directly, it's been about OC owned property issues.

Yet I receive, individually as a rate payer, every couple of months, council letters seeking my views on various neighborhood issues.  Street traffic changes, park upgrades, nearby planning applications etc.  They even sent one out about the street lighting issue that the committee member is concerned about.  All OC lot owners and neighbours would have received the same letters.  So to me, it seems that councils want to deal with individual rate payers on these matters anyway.

Of the three issues the committee member is concerned about, only on-street parking line markings could be considered straightforward maintenance.  The other two issues are certainly subject to opinion.

Avatar
JimmyT
Admin
Forum Posts: 4641
Member Since:
06/01/2014
sp_UserOfflineSmall Offline
9
09/09/2017 - 11:40 pm
sp_Permalink sp_Print

It doesn't have to be one thing or the other - both an official OC response and individual owners' responses are appropriate and helpful.  

But for a strata committee to say that this is beyond their responsibility, because there is nothing in the law that says it IS their responsibility, seems like the easy way out.

That said, there's nothing to stop a committee discussing an issue and deciding not to get involved.

But say it wasn't lighting but, say a new late night bar or a brothel on the corner?  Would you leave it in the hope individual owners had heard about it and wanted to object?

A few years ago there was a major development planned for the building across the road from the one next to ours.  The committee next door decided it wasn't their job to say whether or not it affected their residents - it was up to individuals to respond.

It would have affected a lot of residents, mostly those on the lower floors. And what do you know - all the committee members owned flats on the higher floors and it wouldn't have affected them.

Also, the investors didn't even know because the tenants didn't pass on the "junk mail" from the council.

When our committee raised the issue with the council (some of our residents would have been affected) they were told that nobody in the building directly opposite had complained so what where we complaining about?

It was only when we alerted residents in the building next to ours that they got themselves organised.  Meanwhile we put together a very strong argument with letters from individual owners and objections from our committee and they cut the proposed development by about 10 floors (if I recall correctly).

You would be astonished how many people think a problem they are confronting is so bad that someone else must be complaining too.  The number of people who are too busy, or don't want to get involved, or don't know what to do or say soon mounts up.

If there is an issue that affects your neighbourhood, I believe the committee should write on behalf of all owners (some of whom aren't residents) but also encourage residents - owners and tenants - to write to the authorities too.

There may not be anything in strata law that says you should do this - but there isn't anything that says you shouldn't. It's all about being part of your own community and the larger community around you.

Avatar
JimmyT
Admin
Forum Posts: 4641
Member Since:
06/01/2014
sp_UserOfflineSmall Offline
10
09/09/2017 - 11:48 pm
sp_Permalink sp_Print

Austman said
And we haven't been telling our residents for years that we know best on neighborhood issues.

That was a generalisation and I was speaking figuratively.  But the fact is that committees are there to represent the views of the owners corporation - that is all owners.  And generally most people will accept that ... until you decide something they don't like.

I question if a strata committee alone is even legally allowed to represent all OC owners on neigbourhood issues. Is it overstepping its authority?  I suspect it might be.  

I really don't think so.  It's certainly not breaking any laws or even accepted protocols.  It's up to individual committees.  But our committee makes representations on everything from the flower beds outside the building to the spread of Airbnb.  Are they wrong to do so?

If enough owners disagree, they can have the decision overturned.

Avatar
Sir Humphrey
Canberra
StrataGuru
Members

Full Members

Moderators
Forum Posts: 945
Member Since:
19/04/2011
sp_UserOfflineSmall Offline
11
10/09/2017 - 9:15 am
sp_Permalink sp_Print sp_EditHistory

Re the legality question: I expect most states have provisions like the ACT. Here, in the absence of a general meeting resolution directing it, the executive committee "exercises the functions of the Owners Corporation as it considers appropriate". I think it is reasonable to consider it a function of the Owners Corporation to comment on development proposals in the surrounding area, just as any other land owner might express its interest in nearby proposals.

So, if a general meeting resolved that the committee should respond in a particular way to a development proposal in the vicinity, then that is what it must do. In the absence of such a resolution, the committee can represent the interests of the owners as it considers appropriate. 

If committee members are feeling unsure that they are accurately representing the views of owners, they could make a point of asking the next 10 people they meet on the stairs or in the car park. It shouldn't be hard to quickly get a feel for how residents feel. 

Avatar
Puddn
Flat(chat)Mate
Members
Forum Posts: 71
Member Since:
20/03/2015
sp_UserOfflineSmall Offline
12
11/09/2017 - 12:07 pm
sp_Permalink sp_Print

A subject close to my heart.

As background - our NSW community of 9 strata schemes (representing about 1400 lots) has an 'executive committee of 9 persons' which is in the habit of making submissions to council and other government agencies on behalf of the community. 

Since, these persons are also most likely to be the first to know what is going on in the wider community they should be proactive in generating community consultation and feedback or be silent (my personal opinion).

Unfortunately, the majority of members of this committee are developer influenced/related and are not only resistant to an inclusive approach they may actively support certain issues  - ranging from short-term letting and dog walking to increasing building heights from 8 levels to 30!

Without consultation with the wider community, this committee is acting without 'authority' - in my view.

As well, this 'authority' trickles down to some individual strata committees who then feel they can duplicate this and make further submissions to the relevant bodies without consultation with owners in general.

Unfortunately for me, as Secretary of our 245 lot scheme, I am often the first to be pressured to take a stance (meat in the sandwich so to speak). One owner will want their committee to make representation on behalf of all owners, another challenges our right to do so.

Austman - my experience tells me that your committee is taking the right approach by placing a motion on the next meeting agenda. It is now up to you and other owners to have your say.

If enough owners agree with your point of view, then I doubt the committee would adopt the motion. If no-one objects, then the committee will likely feel it is 'authorised' to make an assumption that owners approve.......?

Avatar
Austman
Victoria
Flat(chat)Mate
Members
Forum Posts: 305
Member Since:
22/01/2014
sp_UserOfflineSmall Offline
13
11/09/2017 - 2:25 pm
sp_Permalink sp_Print sp_EditHistory

If OC committees can and should be involved in neighbourhood issues, it's how they can do that that's also my question.

Can a committee, without even consulting all owners, say to the council that it legally represents all OC owners on a neighbourhood issue?  Because that's what's being proposed.  And if it can, where is the line drawn on the types of matters (local, state, federal) a committee alone can decide on behalf of the OC?  Is it purely at the committee's discretion?

Sir Humphrey said

... the ACT. Here, in the absence of a general meeting resolution directing it, the executive committee "exercises the functions of the Owners Corporation as it considers appropriate"

Thanks Sir Humphrey.  That's the sort of reference I'm looking for.  I'm a strata owner in the ACT as well.  But just above that, in the Unit Titles (Management) Act 2011, is a list of committee functions.  It's pretty clear to me that there are considerable limitations.  And Part 3 Functions of owners corporations lists exactly what an OC's functions are that committee can exercise.  Again they are quite limited.

At the upcoming committee meeting I think I'll propose that if agreed, the committee makes all owners aware of the neighbourhood issues.  And if enough committee members feel concerned enough, that they form a group with other owners and neighbours to approach the council.

Avatar
Austman
Victoria
Flat(chat)Mate
Members
Forum Posts: 305
Member Since:
22/01/2014
sp_UserOfflineSmall Offline
14
11/09/2017 - 2:56 pm
sp_Permalink sp_Print sp_EditHistory

Puddn said
Without consultation with the wider community, this committee is acting without 'authority' - in my view.

That's my concern too.  I'm much more comfortable making committee decisions that clearly fall within it's functions as defined in the OC Act.

Puddn said
Austman - my experience tells me that your committee is taking the right approach by placing a motion on the next meeting agenda. It is now up to you and other owners to have your say.

If enough owners agree with your point of view, then I doubt the committee would adopt the motion. If no-one objects, then the committee will likely feel it is 'authorised' to make an assumption that owners approve.......?  

The proposal at the upcoming committee meeting is that the OC committee contact the council about the neighbourhood issues.  I'd be more comfortable if either all the owners were first consulted or that any approach is done as a group of rate payers rather than as the legal representative of the OC.

Avatar
JimmyT
Admin
Forum Posts: 4641
Member Since:
06/01/2014
sp_UserOfflineSmall Offline
15
11/09/2017 - 6:39 pm
sp_Permalink sp_Print sp_EditHistory

Austman said

Puddn said
Without consultation with the wider community, this committee is acting without 'authority' - in my view.

Most strata committees are given the authority to act on behalf of the Owners Corporation except on specific matters that require a special resolution or a unanimous vote.  

Is expressing an opinion "acting without authority"?

Does this prevent individual owners from expressing their opinions?

Does it prevent a majority of owners from saying "hang on  - we are rescinding that decision to offer that opinion"?

The answer to all of those is No.  The way strata committees work is to allow the community to get on with running itself without having to stop and hold a general meeting every time there is a decision to be made.

There are checks and balances there to allow the strata committee to make decisions that need to be made with the final say always resting with the owners if they feel the committee has made the wrong choice.

To limit the committee to only decisions that are specified in the law is to create massive loopholes through which the unscrupulous can exploit their neighbours.

Should strata committees even discuss short-term letting?  It doesn't say in the Act that they can or should.  How about installing solar energy? Can't see that anywhere in the Act.

OK, that's all stuff inside the building so it would come under management. But let's say the council is about to change a bus route and move it away from the building to somewhere less convenient? Is the strata committee expected to stay silent?

Or how about if a developer wants to put a sign on a crane that will shine into apartments all night.  If I were an investor and my tenants had decided it was easier to move out than complain, and my strata committee hadn't bothered to raise an objection, and my new tenants complain about the light from the crane ... I would be mightily annoyed at my committee for doing nothing.

The crane sign is a real and recent example in my building.  The committee objected to a proposal to install a brightly lit sign on a crane just across the street, they also encouraged owners to write with their own objections. Council refused permission for the lit sign.

Was the committee exceeding its authority by doing what it did?  Or would it have been derelict in its duty by doing nothing? 

Finally, regarding previous comments about strata committees using their power to support developers, the problem there is a stacked, pro-developer committee and that can be solved relatively easily with a little organisation and a lot of determination.

But if owners can't be bothered to protect their own interests, that's no reason for denying that option to everyone else.

A correctly run committee with proper agendas and minutes is totally accountable to the building's owners.  If the committee is not properly run, then that's a whole other issue.

Expressing an opinion in good faith on behalf of the majority of residents - not just owners - is not exceeding the committee's authority ... it's recognising that committees have responsibilities that are neither defined nor restricted by the Act.

Avatar
Sir Humphrey
Canberra
StrataGuru
Members

Full Members

Moderators
Forum Posts: 945
Member Since:
19/04/2011
sp_UserOfflineSmall Offline
16
12/09/2017 - 7:52 am
sp_Permalink sp_Print

Austman said
Thanks Sir Humphrey.  That's the sort of reference I'm looking for.  I'm a strata owner in the ACT as well.  But just above that, in the Unit Titles (Management) Act 2011, is a list of committee functions.  It's pretty clear to me that there are considerable limitations.  And Part 3 Functions of owners corporations lists exactly what an OC's functions are that committee can exercise.  Again they are quite limited.

Yes, the ACT's UTM Act Part 3, s.16(1) lists the functions of the OC as follows:

An owners corporation for a units plan has the following functions:

(a) the enforcement of its rules;

(b) the control, management and administration of the common property; 

(c) any other function given to the corporation under this Act or another territory law.

And then Part 3 and elsewhere in the Act provides more detail. I would argue that s.16(1)(c) covers comment on development proposals in the neighbourhood. There will be other territory law to do with development proposals and consultation with anyone with an interest in nearby property. The OC is a (legal) 'person'* with an interest in nearby development and entitled to comment. Even beyond any formal development consultation process, there would be ordinary legal rights to free speech which can be exercised by the OC as much as anyone else.

Obviously, the OC should refrain from expressing an opinion on some matter not even remotely linked to the management, use or enjoyment of its property. On the other hand, I think it should comment if, for example, there is a proposal that would result in a direct effect such as extra noise or shading of the property or an indirect effect such as a loss of amenity to the owners through redevelopment of nearby open space or other local facilities enjoyed by the owners.

*s.8 and 9 provide the OC with the characteristics of a 'legal personality'. In a recent matter at the ACT Magistrates Court, the magistrate strongly hinted to me that I needed to amend our application (I am not a lawyer but I was representing our EC). We were asking for an enforcement order that would enable the EC to enforce a Tribunal order. A unit owner had been ordered by the Tribunal to remove an unapproved structure on their unit by a certain date but had not done so. Now we wanted authority for the EC to enter the unit and remove the structure. ACT Magistrates Court rule 2442 said the Court could appoint a 'person' to do something that another person had been ordered to do but failed to do. What we needed to do was establish who was the legal personality to whom the rule could be applied. From the UTM Act the OC was a 'person' that could be authorised 'to do a thing', the EC was not a 'person'. The order would authorise the OC to do that which the unit owner had been ordered to do although it followed that it would be the EC that could exercise that function given by the court order. It further followed from default rule 10, which our OC had adopted, that the EC could exercise that function by appointing a representative (IE an appropriate tradesperson) to do the actual removal of the unapproved structure and making good.

Avatar
Austman
Victoria
Flat(chat)Mate
Members
Forum Posts: 305
Member Since:
22/01/2014
sp_UserOfflineSmall Offline
17
12/09/2017 - 10:54 am
sp_Permalink sp_Print

It's interesting to note that, in Victoria at least, 1,000s (probably 10,000s) of OCs exist simply because some lots share a driveway.  In many cases there's absolutely no other reason - it's just because of a driveway.  Not all strata schemes are apartment blocks.

Does simply sharing a driveway, and absolutely nothing more, give an OC committee the legal right to represent all the lot owners on matters that don't directly relate to the common property in that strata plan?  I sure hope it wouldn't!

And I have friends living in strata Plans of Subdivision where only some of the lots are members in an OC.  For other lots (they don't share any common property at all) there is no OC, so no committee, no meetings, no levies - absolute zip.  And the OC committee that does exist in the same Plan of Subdivision has absolutely zero jurisdiction over the lots that are not part of the OC.   Yet all the lots were built at the same time, are part of the same Plan of Subdivision and even share the same street address.

To me, the above demonstrates the reason an OC is created is very much to do with common property maintenance and not much more.

As for communications and speaking out etc. I'm both a resident and a non-resident strata owner. I get addressed letters from councils re community matters for all the lots I own. I'd agree though that I don't always physically see what's happening in the neighbourhood of all my lots.  So I might appreciate a committee informing me about neighbourhood issues that concern them.  But I'm not so sure that I agree that a committee should be allowed to automatically legally represent me on those issues.  They can speak out if they want, as residents and ratepayers but I'm still struggling to see how they can legally say they represent the views of 190 owners (as is the case in one of my OCs where I am a committee member) on matters not defined by law as a committee's function. 

Avatar
JimmyT
Admin
Forum Posts: 4641
Member Since:
06/01/2014
sp_UserOfflineSmall Offline
18
12/09/2017 - 11:34 am
sp_Permalink sp_Print

Austman said
Does simply sharing a driveway, and absolutely nothing more, give an OC committee the legal right to represent all the lot owners on matters that don't directly relate to the common property in that strata plan?  I sure hope it wouldn't!

I am getting a bit weary of this "legal right" argument.  Do I have the legal right to express an opinion in public?  Yes, I think I do.  Is my "freedom of speech" defined in Australian law?  No, I don't think it is.  By your logic, that means I don't have the legal right to express an opinion

I have friends living in strata Plans of Subdivision where only some of the lots are members in an OC ... to me, the above demonstrates the reason an OC is created is very much to do with common property maintenance and not much more.

In that specific instance you might be right. But those are very specific instances. They certainly don't apply to all strata schemes.

I'm not so sure that I agree that a committee should be allowed to automatically legally represent me on those issues. 

Again, the weasel words "legally represent". How is expressing an opinion to a public body (or, indeed, the media) legal representation?

They can speak out if they want, as residents and ratepayers but I'm still struggling to see how they can legally say they represent the views of 190 owners (as is the case in one of my OCs where I am a committee member) on matters not defined by law as a committee's function.   

And again ... "legally say".  If we are going to go full Rumpole on this, the NSW Fair Trading factsheet on what a strata committee does says this right at the top: "The strata committee of the owners corporation represents owners or owners' nominees."

That's it.  No exclusions, qualifications or definitions of "represents" (although it does go on to specify other duties, which include the secretary "doing all administrative and secretarial duties for the owners corporation and the strata committee.")

In your nightmare scenarios of owners who only share a driveway but find they are, let's say, supporting a high-rise brothel on the street corner, the solution is simple - you hold a meeting, you instruct the committee to write to the council and say "we have no opinion on this."

Except you wouldn't.  You'd say, the views expressed previously were not representative of the majority of owners and this is what we actually feel.

I find it astonishing that, given the checks and balances referred to several times before, we are still discussing this as if strata committees were issuing edicts like Stalinist propagandists and owners had no recourse to correcting the situation.  Neither of these situations pertain anywhere that I know of.

And if they did, the mechanisms are there to put things right.  Expressing an opinion is not legal representation - except, for instance, when the committee attaches the strata seal to a development application.

I am often called upon to express the opinions of Flat Chat readers - I do my best to give the general consensus but I and the people I'm talking to know that I don't represent every one of the readers of this website and, indeed, that some readers disagree with my views quite vehemently.

And here's the other thing - if you don't want your committee to get involved in any local issues outside the strata scheme, there's a mandatory motion (in NSW) in every AGM agenda where owners are invited to instruct the committee not to even discuss certain matters. 

Try running a 'no comment' motion at your next AGM - you might be surprised by how many people want to be represented by the strata committee - and there is absolutely nothing in the law that says they can't be. 

Avatar
scotlandx
StrataGuru
Members

Full Members

Moderators
Forum Posts: 753
Member Since:
02/02/2012
sp_UserOfflineSmall Offline
19
12/09/2017 - 2:07 pm
sp_Permalink sp_Print

I don't think it is a matter of whether a Committee has the legal right, perhaps it is more a matter of whether they are authorised to take a position or make submissions on behalf of the owners corporation as a whole.  

Looking at the legislation and the functions of the OC set out in section 9 which are essentially delegated to the SC, I'm not sure that they do.  However, you don't want to cut off your nose to spite your face, and I agree with Jimmy that there are a number of instances where a submission by the Committee can be of great use, taking into account that many owners may not be aware of an issue or just can't be bothered. 

One way of dealing with this could be to put up a resolution at the AGM to authorise the SC to do that kind of thing, within certain parameters.

An interesting parallel is with the recent marriage debate, the Law Society of NSW issued a joint statement with the Bar Association and AMA NSW supporting a change to the Marriage Act. A number of members of the Law Society have called on the president to resign, because in their view the Council of the Law Society does not have the right to represent the views of its members on the issue. Even lawyers can get themselves in a knot about this type of thing.

Avatar
Austman
Victoria
Flat(chat)Mate
Members
Forum Posts: 305
Member Since:
22/01/2014
sp_UserOfflineSmall Offline
20
12/09/2017 - 6:37 pm
sp_Permalink sp_Print

On the same-sex issue. I've noticed that many houses in my area now have large posters in their windows that voice their views. It's clearly a statement that the occupants of the house have the view as stated on the poster. 

Should an OC committee be allowed to decide to put such a poster on the common property? My OC has several large common property street windows that would be ideal to display the committee's views.

I'm not against committees having a view on neighbourhood or even social issues. But where the OC Act doesn't specifically allow it, I think they should refer the issue back to the owners first. 

Tribunals and courts have issued countless rulings about committees overstepping their authority.

And I'm sorry to harp on the matter but one of my committee members wants the committee to contact the council as the legal representative of all the owners about some matters where opinions are likely to vary. I don't think that's right at all.

Forum Timezone: Australia/Sydney

Most Users Ever Online: 518

Currently Online:
23 Guest(s)

Currently Browsing this Page:
1 Guest(s)

Top Posters:

kiwipaul: 613

struggler: 459

Austman: 305

Billen Ben: 232

Millie: 213

Cosmo: 170

Kangaroo: 168

considerate band fair: 167

FlatChatFan: 147

daphne diaphanous: 137

Newest Members:

ChrisOldCodger

[email protected]

tonyd

oceancalls

Shazzz

ewright

McCash

Herbie01

Gburraston

Peter M Mills

Forum Stats:

Groups: 4

Forums: 46

Topics: 4398

Posts: 20891

 

Member Stats:

Guest Posters: 241

Members: 5005

Moderators: 4

Admins: 1

Administrators: JimmyT

Moderators: Whale, Sir Humphrey, scotlandx, Lady Penelope