• This topic has 39 replies, 4 voices, and was last updated 1 month ago by .
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  • #54378
    TrulEConcerned
    Flatchatter

    Hello, at a recent AGM, two owners (of whom I am one) complained about the absence of details in financial statements offered in the agenda by the managing agent.

    The two of us were assured that if we want more details eg a listing of payments made by the strata and lot owners’ levy ledgers, all we need do is ask and the agent shall email it to us immediately, “as it’s easily available, captured by the software used”.

    The two of us accepted that.

    However it is now 2 days since the Chairman confirmed my emailed request for specific details to be sent to me. He stated that he and the agent need to discuss my email with the rest of the SC. No time frame was mentioned.

    My questions are:

    1. What exactly is there for the SC and agent to discuss? Can the SC deny my request? If so, on what grounds?

    2. Can the SC trot out the same lame excuse they trotted out in the past, being: “that sharing lot owners’ individual ledgers with all owners is a breach of lot owners’ privacy”. Note, back in the day NSW Fair Trading told me that is a load of baloney (not to mention a breach of the NSW SSMA) and when I told the EC (as it was) that if the details are not sent to me pronto I will take the matter to NCAT where they can explain to the Member exactly on what grounds the Treasurer and Chairman are denying me the information, they sent me the details post haste.

    Please advise what sections of the Act I need to quote in my application to NCAT, if the super secretive SC remains unwilling to share financial information with those not sitting on the SC.

    Thank you.

     

Viewing 9 replies - 31 through 39 (of 39 total)
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  • #54499
    TrulEConcerned
    Flatchatter
    Chat-starter

    Hi Scotlandx,

    Thanks for the reference to s36 of the SSMA regarding pmts made to SC members. I also found s46 applies.

    I have a related question: at the last few AGMs we passed a resolution that there are “No matter shall be a restricted matter that can only be decided at a General Meeting”. Does that include pmts made to SC members (which as mentioned, were made without informing the OC, without agendas and minutes being sent to OC members listing the pmts and confirming the SC’s approval of them, for what looks like self education purposes, “strata education”).

    If the “No restricted matter” AGM (passed) motion does not invalidate s.46 then I suppose my next step is to ask the managing agent for details of the pmts and a copy of the minutes approving pmts. After all, the agent can only pay a SC member on presentation of minutes, right?

    If the “No restricted matter” motion invalidates s.46 then how do you suggest I challenge the “strata education subscription” pmt that the SC member billed the OC for.

    Thanks again.

    #54484
    TrulEConcerned
    Flatchatter
    Chat-starter

    Scotlandx,

    Thanks for your insight. Much appreciated.

    I will wade through the documents I received from the agent and return to this thread when I discover more “irregularities”.

    Thanks again.

    #54457
    scotlandx
    Strataguru

    Section 46 of the Act provides that the OC can pay a Committee member an amount determined by the OC at an annual general meeting in recognition of services performed by the person for the OC in the period since the last AGM (it’s retrospective).

    The Committee does not have the power to pay a Committee member for services performed for the OC, that is a matter reserved to the owners in an AGM, section 36(3), and it has to be determined retrospectively. It doesn’t matter that the Committee has the power to spend funds up to a certain amount, the issue is they have paid a Committee member, and they don’t have the power to do that. So the payment to the Committee member is a breach.

    As for the “continuing education”, you have to be kidding me.

    #54451
    TrulEConcerned
    Flatchatter
    Chat-starter

    Good morning Kaindub,

    Thanks for the reply.

    1. “Strata Education”

    The committee member in question has been in his position for over 20 years. He is a very knowledgeable solicitor. The only possible explanation I can come up with why I see this expense for the first time is that his employer is no longer paying for this subscription, hence he is billing the OC. Until we hired a managing agent, he ran the strata for many years on his own, without billing the OC for such “education”.

    As to the only other SC member, in case you may think the “professional education” is for her benefit, please note that she takes no part in managing the strata, she is quite senior and has no interest in matters such as “professional education”. Whenever any owner has I a query, small or large, she always refers them to the agent who often consults the solicitor.
    But I will take your suggestion about asking nicely for access to all the resources paid for by the OC. Let’s see how he responds. I mean, how the agent responds as the SC member, as mentioned already, doesn’t want to be bothered by owners.

    2. Strata Maintenance

    As to the SC member billing and being paid by the OC for “maintenance”, you wrote: IMHO if he won the job on a  competitive tender and had the necessary qualifications and was approved by the committee then i see that its a benefit for the OC to pay them for the work.
    Please note: he did not provide a quote to the owners; neither he nor the agent sought tenders; neither the SC member nor the agent informed the owners that he was going to do work; he did not provide the owners with an invoice, presumably he just provided it to the agent who paid him; neither the SC member nor the agent inform the OC of when what I consider is an “irregular” payment was made. Had I not asked for certain financial reports, I would not now know he was paid 6 months ago.

    Who knows how much he was paid over time in secret?

    Do understand that my concern is not that work was done. It most probably had to have been done, but in the absence of quotes from the SC member, the absence of a competitive tender and secrecy of the agent and the SC member of concealing this “irregular” payment(s), the OC is poorly served. Unsurprisingly, transparency in the financial relationships of committee members  was what I always pushed for when I was on the EC (back in the day), before I was pushed out of the EC.

    #54447
    kaindub
    Flatchatter

    Trule concerned

    I think you are making assumptions which may not be true.

    Unless restricted by the OC the committee can spend money without approval for the benefit of the strata. A committee member getting some strata training id of benefit to the OC. Even if the strata manager is delegated all the functions the committee is still responsible for overseeing decisions as well as making some.

    I’m sure if you ask NICELY the member would share any materials they have.

    Unless you have some basis for your suspicions don’t go looking for transgressions.  Its the quickest way to become labelled that crazy person.

    In the case of payment for work done, that’s a tricky one. Committee members are generally not paid for their time. However the member may be doing maintenance work around the property which would normally done by paid  contractors. IMHO if he won the job on a  competitive tender and had the necessary qualifications and was approved by the committee then i see that its a benefit for the OC to pay them for the work

    #54442
    TrulEConcerned
    Flatchatter
    Chat-starter

    Thank you both for your advice.
    Before I had a chance to share your points with the agent, he emailed me what I requested (3 days after I initially asked). It seems that the SC saw the light and realised it was unable to deny me what I was after.

    A quick reading of the information provided reveals that a member of the SC billed the OC for “continued education” in the area of strata management in addition to his (the SC member’s) labour and material for “repairs”. Note the SC was given the right to spend certain funds on the strata’s upkeep without referring to the OC for approval. But I recall that OC members were to be informed ideally before the event of such expenditure. These debits to the strata’s a/c are over 6 months old and were never brought to the OC’s attention.

    My focus is on the “strata education” expenses.

    Given:

    1) All management functions are performed by the agent;
    2) SC members don’t even want to be bothered by owners at any time. They insist that all communication/requests etc be directed to the agent at all times; and
    3) SC members never sought nor received permission to bill the OC for what smacks of self improvement expenses

    can SC members charge the OC for matters that are unrelated to the management of this strata?

    If “yes” then, can I insist they make available to all owners all the literature and resources they are privy to, including but not limited to access to education portal, seminars, events etc? And if my request is denied, can I insist they repay what I consider an unauthorised withdrawal?

    If “no”, that is, if what they did is indeed unlawful, can the SC save themselves by retrospectively approving these expenses? Even though there is not a single valid reason for milking the OC. (Note they have the numbers, ie votes, to do anything they want at the strata).

    I look forward to your views.

    #54406
    TrulEConcerned
    Flatchatter
    Chat-starter

    Thank you both for your wise and speedy replies.

    JT, I like the your point on privacy.

    Kaindub, I like the point on emails. I never thought of that. As to your comment on them playing “silly buggers”, would you believe that there are two solicitors on the SC?

    I am sure that in due course after I receive the required documents, I will have more questions, so will return to this thread at that time.

     

    #54402
    Jimmy-T
    Keymaster

    Kaindub is absolutely right.  FYI: Owners corporation records are not covered by privacy laws.  Just this week the government passed an amendment that excludes the votes in secret ballots from being available under section 182 rules – which shows how deep it goes.

    #54390
    kaindub
    Flatchatter

    Its section 182. All Owners have the right to view all records of the OC

    If they want to be silly buggers just look at section 183, pay the fee and away you go.

    Make sure you look at the emails. Usually these are on the strata managers computer. They may claim privilege but the are also records of the OC.

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