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Owner posing as SC
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14/11/2018 - 4:34 pm
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HI, in our NSW building we have an owner who has been an SC member in the past and so many businesses are used to dealing with her. The SC has discovered however that since being voted off the SC she has continued to communicate with builders / suppliers / engineers (despite being advised at the commencement of the new SC that she should desist from this), engaging in activities that should only be done by the SC – eg. asking for quotes on potential major work, and supplying building scope documents for such work that she herself has drafted – and without even the SC being aware. The SM has forwarded to the SC some of the quotes that have been generated at her request, saying that they had been requested by the SC, but that wasn’t so. It is unclear to the SC if the SM is aware that she is acting as a completely unauthorized independent agent when she liaises with builders and so on, or not. We suspect he is aware and is just letting it go on as it is the path of least resistance.

What rights do the SC have to prevent her from continuing to engage with suppliers etc about matters relating to our building? Her response is that there is freedom of speech and we can’t prevent her from talking to whoever she likes, she has the right to do so! But on a minor level the cleaner is now talking of quitting as she harasses him so much, and on a major level she has asked for quotes on a building spec she sent out  which covered work of about half a million $ in value, and the window supplier was convinced he was dealing with a member of the SC! 

Constructive advise would be helpful, thanks!

Sir Humphrey

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19/11/2018 - 3:04 pm
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If I were on your committee, I would advocate a decision of the committee, all duly minuted etc, to write a formal letter to this owner from the executive committee stating:

-examples of instances when it appears that the owner has misrepresented herself as a representative of the committee.

-that it is a function of the committee to represent the interests of and exercise the functions of the owners corporation. 

-that maintaining good relations with potential suppliers of goods and services to the OC is an important function of the committee. 

-that the committee requests that she desists from representing herself as being a committee member or giving that impression to potential suppliers of goods and services.

-that she explicitly makes it clear that she is not a committee member and is enquiring in a private capacity if she does talk to potential suppliers of goods and services. 

-that the committee appreciates her experience and enthusiasm for proposals for the improvement of the property but would prefer that she bring her ideas for discussion with the committee before being advanced too far. 

-that if the owner persists, the committee will seek an order from the Tribunal that the owner desists from representing herself falsely as a representative of the committee to the detriment of the OC’s interests. 

I suggest that a copy of the committee’s letter be also sent to the managing agent. 

You have my sympathy. I have been in a similar situation as a committee member. An owner who had previously been a committee member sought to ambush the committee at an AGM with quotes for certain expensive (but unnecessary) maintenance as part of her effort to dissuade owners from agreeing to spend money on an unrelated proposal. i.e. Panic people into thinking we needed to urgently spend lots of money on one thing so there would be no money left to spend on the other thing. By chance I contacted the same supplier who was surprised I did not already have his quote. He then sent it to me directly and it became clear that the owner was also doing some selective quoting of that supplier’s advice. Almost a decade later the thing she wanted us to spend lots of money on has still not been done, still does not yet need to be done, and our sinking fund has ample provision for it when it eventually does need to be done.  

Flame Tree
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19/11/2018 - 3:59 pm
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She’s likely to use it to her favor and in many cases won’t likely cause harm. The Committee alone will make it’s decisions with or without her obtaining quotes but if the projects are required by you then it might actually save you some time. Or waste her’s when you reject them outright. If it’s getting to you, you could easily respond to whoever sent you the quotes advising them she is not authorized or been asked to seek quotes and these approaches are best first checked with another/nominated person to save you all the time when there is little chance any work will be approved or forthcoming

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19/11/2018 - 10:35 pm
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Thank you both Sir Humphrey and Flame Tree. We have already tried the polite letter approach, I admit not as comprehensively as you suggest Sir H, and got a diatribe back about freedom of speech meaning people can speak to whomsoever they like, and that anyone can call for quotes as calling for a quote does not equate to issuing a work order and so on and so forth. We did write (or rather, had the SM write) to all the usual suppliers of services to the building so that they would know who the SC contact person was – we didn’t however anticipate that she would approach structural engineers and builders and so on over a matter that is clearly a major OC issue, and so our letters didn’t go nearly widely enough!

FT you hit the nail on the head “if it’s getting to you” ! It is nice to get a little solidarity on this forum – of course it would be better if no-one could say that they had had the same experience, but it does somehow help one gird one’s loins to get back to the business at hand and try and ignore the troublemakers, knowing that others have similar experiences too and that one is not alone.

And so we press on….

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