Flat Chat Forum Strata Committees Current Page

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  • #52698
    AvatarTrulEConcerned
    Flatchatter

    Our strata scheme in Sydney has 24 lots and a committee of 5. All of the 5 have been on the committee for 3 years. I am not on the committee and have had no interaction (positive or negative) with them recently.

    3 of the 5 travel a lot for work and are hardly ever in Sydney and as a consequence rarely if ever reply to letters and emails from owners and tenants. This is a problem, as those 3 hold the more responsible positions on the committee. All 5 of the committee members want to vaccinate themselves from

    * “too much correspondence” they allegedly receive;

    * complaints and follow ups by owners and tenants who have not had their correspondence acknowledged, addressed or resolved; and

    * from “trivial correspondence” they allegedly receive

    Their plan is to formalise and legalise (I suppose at a general meeting) their practice of ignoring any correspondence which any of the committee members considers offensive, repetitive, irrelevant or similar. A by law has been suggested to allow them to do this. As an alternative to a by law, a “code of conduct”  has been floated to limit the number of times per year an owner or resident may correspond with the managing agent or committee members, (presumably regardless of the seriousness of the issue). So far the committee has not imposed a word limit on correspondence by owners or residents .

    Questions:

    1. Is the suggested by law “harsh, unconscionable or oppressive”? And presumably, “illegal”.

    2. Is the suggested “code of conduct” a violation of a person’s rights and presumably, “illegal”?

     

Viewing 7 replies - 1 through 7 (of 7 total)
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  • #52734
    Jimmy-TJimmy-T
    Keymaster

    If this was being proposed at my block’s AGM, I would point out that any such by-laws or Codes of Conduct are unenforceable and are therefore just cluttterig up the by-laws and costing money for registration, to no one’s benefit.

    They can have a code of conduct for the committee, but not for non-elected  owners.

    If they want to deter serial pests, then they should find a better way of doing it (such as by publishing in the minutes the amount of correspondence and the cost of responsing to it.)

    But if they don’t want to engage with ANY owners, why are they even standing for election?

    NB: This topic is now closed.

    #52728
    AvatarTrulEConcerned
    Flatchatter
    Chat-starter

    Thanks for the feedback Jimmy.

    As I read your replies, the two avenues proposed by the SC:

    1. May be unnecessary or unworkable;

    2. Do not offer the SC anything new under the sun, because the SSMA itself does not require them to read/reply to correspondence if they don’t want to; and

    3. May be the SC’s (genuine) attempt to deter a chronic trouble maker.

    If so, then I see no reason to oppose this change by the SC.

    Two final questions:

    a) Assuming  the By-Law is carried at a general meeting, will any owner who supports it find herself looking stupid in front of NCAT if in time she seeks Mediation after a legitimate email from her (say about a neighbour keeping a dog that disturbs her right to peaceful enjoyment) was ignored by the SC, as the By-Law allows? And

    b) Flowing from that, would you as an owner but not SC member, support or abstain from voting on such a motion?

    Thanks again.

    #52710
    Jimmy-TJimmy-T
    Keymaster

    Questions: 1. Is the suggested by law “harsh, unconscionable or oppressive”? And presumably, “illegal”.

    No, it’s just stupid, unworkable and unnecessary.  There is no law requiring committee members to read or respond to correspondence, therefore there is no need for a by-law telling them they don’t have to. The only consequence is that they might not be re-elected at the next AGM.

    2. Is the suggested “code of conduct” a violation of a person’s rights and presumably, “illegal”?

    What are they going to do? Tie your hands behind your back so you can’t write?  Again, it’s unworkable and unnecessary.

    Reading between the lines, however, this has the feel of a signalling motion to get people to back off. There’s a fair chance that someone in your scheme has decided that the best way to get what they want is to badger the committee members with emails, letters and phone calls. This can be unproductive and deeply annoying and even distressing for committee members.

    In fact, the best way to get what you want is to persuade other owners that you (and likeminded owners) should be elected on to the committee and the easiest way to do that is to persuade them that money is being wasted and their property values are being detrimentally affected.

    If a disgruntled owner can’t persuade their neighbours of either of these things, then they have an uphill battle. And be clear, all that constant irritation of people in power does is to make them irritated.  It certainly doesn’t make them more inclined to hear others’ points of view.

    On the other hand, if owners aren’t prepared to listen to their neighbours, then why are they on the committee in the first place?

    So, if you object to these moves to silence owners, put another motion up asking that committee members state whether they are prepared to read and respond to owners’ questions, complaints and suggestions, before the committee elections.

    If the motion fails, it means your fellow owners simply don’t care and it’s time to let it go.

    • This reply was modified 1 month, 1 week ago by .
    #52727
    Jimmy-TJimmy-T
    Keymaster

    Do you think potential purchasers of a lot when searching the records may be put off by what they may interpret as owners being muzzled?

    I think potential purchasers are more likely to be put off buying if they think someone is stirring up trouble unnecessarily – which makes it hard to argue that you want owners to stir up trouble.

    #52721
    AvatarTrulEConcerned
    Flatchatter
    Chat-starter

    Thanks for the reply Jimmy.

    CODE: As I understand you, this may be unworkable and have no effect when compared to it not coming into existence because there is no legislated requirement for the SC to read correspondence.

    BY-LAW

    As to the By-law, I would expect short, sharp and relevant correspondence from an owner would be read and if needed, acted upon by the SC. Whilst reams of BS sent by an owner would be (rightly) left unread. Other than trying to inject fear into some owners, I don’t understand the point of such a By-law.

    You mention the possibility that “property values are being detrimentally affected”. Do you think potential purchasers of a lot when searching the records may be put off by what they may interpret as owners being muzzled?

    Thanks again for your insights.

    #52716
    Jimmy-TJimmy-T
    Keymaster

    You suggest that the SC be challenged in a future AGM. The SC members are in the positions for life (sitting on a small hill of proxies, replenished annually) as most residents are charmed by a couple of them and are clueless as to what is proposed.

    That would be a very, very small hill. In a strata scheme the size that you have described, each committee member is only allowed to hold one proxy vote

    My worries are as follows: a) The by law (or “code”) will enable the SC and agent not to acknowledge ANY correspondence they receive, so in the case of say overpaid or wrongly charged levies, the owner could take forever to get her money back.

    As already said, the code is redundant and has no force.  It’s entirely up to the committee members whether or not they respond and then they have to justify their inaction when they stand for election.

    … the SC has not had a properly constituted SC meeting for the three years since the current mob were elected. Presumably they talk informally amongst themselves and choose not to hold SC meetings, but that is not what is required under the Act, isn’t it?

    The only requirement under the Act is that an AGM must be held every year.  However, if the committee is meeting and making decisions, then they must issue a notice of meeting, an agenda and minutes, under the terms of Schedule 2 of the Strata Act. If they are making decisions without due process, then it may be worth challenging them at Fair Trading and possibly even NCAT.

    #52711
    AvatarTrulEConcerned
    Flatchatter
    Chat-starter

    Jimmy, thanks for the reply.

    1. I agree with your view that there is no law requiring the SC to read correspondence or reply to a pain of an owner. And that it is stupid to formalise this. If I were on the SC I may be inclined to disregard abusive correspondence but would never seek to silence owners and remove their right from telegraphing their views. Also as it is proposed, the SC members alone decide if correspondence received fails their test of “reasonableness”;

    2. But formalising such a regulation will inject fear into the populace and will discourage correspondence, even if crucial and far from trivial;

    3. You suggest that the SC be challenged in a future AGM. The SC members are in the positions for life (sitting on a small hill of proxies, replenished annually) as most residents are charmed by a couple of them and are clueless as to what is proposed. Of those owners alert to the autocracy proposed, many are very old, in poor health and are afraid to confront the SC or genuinely plan to, but forget.

    My worries are as follows:

    a) The by law (or “code”) will enable the SC and agent not to acknowledge ANY correspondence they receive, so in the case of say overpaid or wrongly charged levies, the owner could take forever to get her money back. After all, her email alerting the agent and Treasurer could be said “not to have been ever received”;

    b) An owner (occupier) may be accused of something he has done or his tenant (if an investor) has done and his reply to the accusation need not be acknowledged and in time he may be said to have ignored the complaint etc.

    I suspect that an owner in the strata has harassed one or more SC members which may be why the proposals have been ventilated. But I cannot understand how the alleged harassing correspondence was read and the SC acting upon it, as the SC has not had a properly constituted SC meeting for the three years since the current mob were elected. Presumably they talk informally amongst themselves and choose not to hold SC meetings, but that is not what is required under the Act, isn’t it?

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