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Forum: Tribunal rules on unrelated strata donations

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Here’s a Tribunal decision that’s going to cause discomfort among the more activist members of your committees – strata schemes can’t legally make donations to campaigns and appeals that don’t benefit them directly.

This issue was raised on the Forum a few weeks ago and back then the surprising, legally supported opinion was that your committee couldn’t and shouldn’t chuck money into a collection tin for unrelated causes, even when the majority of its members agreed with them.

This has now been officially confirmed with one Flatchatter finding a case where an owner had challenged three items on his block’s AGM, all related to donating money to various causes.

The NCAT Senior Member hearing the case said the donations were ultra vires,  in other words “not lawful” because they fell outside the fairly narrow parameters laid down in the NSW strata Act which establish what strata funds can be spent on.

Is this such a big deal? Maybe for some people.

In recent times two major issues affecting apartment residents have seen calls for funding to support campaigns for or against short-term letting and pets in apartments.

In my own experience, I was in favour of the funding given by my block on one issue  and against donating to the other. Swings and roundabouts, I thought, and shrugged it off.

After all, it wouldn’t be the first time apartment residents found their levies being used for purposes with which they didn’t agree (like paying a share of being taken to the tribunal, for instance).

I’m still not sure where the line would be drawn. If three blocks got together to campaign against, say, a strip club being opened nearby, would that be considered a direct benefit?

But this could be a game changer. Our committees now have to think carefully before they commit our money to a cause or campaign.

Of course, there’s nothing to stop them using their internal communications systems – emails, newsletters and websites – to ask residents to donate.  But they have to keep their bountiful fingers out of the strata biscuit tin.

You can follow the whole donations thread HERE.

Elsewhere on the Forum

  • Paint pong is driving me out of my rented flat.  How much does it cost to break the lease? That’s HERE.
  • How long should I expect to wait for a reply from my strata manager?  That’s HERE.
  • Neighbour’s door slams are disturbing my peace and quiet and cracking the wall.  That’s HERE.
  • Should the strata manager take instructions from just one committee member?  That’s HERE.
  • How do you get your neighbours to maintain their properties without getting everyone offside?  That’s HERE.

There are a lot more questions and answers on the Forum  and the best way to keep up to speed with what’s happening is to register (if you haven’t already done so), then login and subscribe to the topics that interest you most.

That way you’ll get an alert whenever the discussion moves forward, and you can also chip in with your own comments and questions.  Have a look HERE at our instant guide to getting online.

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