A strata committee is a selected group of people that represent the owners in an owners corporation.
In broad terms, a strata committee takes on decision making that relates to the day-to-day operations of the strata scheme. They are, in effect, the controlling mind of the owners corporation for the duration of their appointment.
Who Can Be on a Strata Committee?
To be on a strata committee, you have to be a:
- lot owner;
- person nominated by an owner who is not currently standing for a position on the committee; or
- nominee of a corporation that is a lot owner.
How is a Strata Committee Selected?
Strata committee members are elected each year at the annual general meeting of the owners corporation.
If you have only 2 lots in your scheme, both lot owners must be on the committee.
If you have a large scheme with over 100 lots, then you will need to have at least 3 members on the strata committee.
Otherwise, a strata committee can generally have between 1 and 9 members.
Who are the Office Bearers and What is Their Role?
You usually first elect the committee itself, and then the “office-bearers” on the committee: chairperson, secretary and treasurer. In broad terms, the:
- chairperson presides at meetings, keeps them moving along the relevant agenda, decides issues about voting and meeting protocol. The chairperson does not have a casting vote in strata committees.
- secretary is responsible for convening meetings, taking minutes and notes during meetings, giving notices to committee and lot owners as required, maintaining administrative records and corresponding on behalf of the owners corporation.
- treasurer, as you’d expect, manages the financial aspects of the owners corporation. That might include issuing levy notices, maintaining accounting records, receipting and banking money and the like.
How Do You Get On a Strata Committee (and why would you want to)?
If you’re interested in being on the strata committee from the next AGM, then you will need to be nominated.
That nomination can be by a lot owner, provided they are not a co-owner with you of the same lot and standing for election in the same committee.
That said, being on a strata committee comes with a fair amount of associated work. You will need to concern yourself fairly regularly with compliance and risk issues. There’s a good chance you will regularly have to dive into the relevant legislation or regulations to find out how the committee should act on a particular issue.
In particular, the office-bearers of a strata committee have an added burden on their time, and each different role will lend itself to different types of individual. For example, if you are not good with paperwork and administrative organisation, then you really shouldn’t agree to be a secretary for a strata committee.
On the up side, being on the committee can be a good place to solidify relationships within your owners corporation and have a material influence on the decision making that happens throughout the year. Depending on the size of the committee, that could make a real difference to your living situation and the condition of the owners corporation generally.
That said, don’t underestimate the fact that being on a committee isn’t always that fun, and sometimes more stressful situations can arise that require committee involvement (for example, having to deal with complaints, disputes or conduct issues with your neighbours).
How are Decisions Made by a Strata Committee?
As with most committees, decisions are made by a vote that normally takes place in a meeting.
The secretary can convene a committee meeting at any time – there are no minimum or maximum requirements here. Similarly, if one-third of the committee members request it, the secretary must call a meeting.
Once a meeting is called, the secretary will give the committee members at least 3 days’ notice before the meeting. That notice will include a detailed agenda of the items to be dealt with.
As long as half the committee members attend the meeting, there is a “quorum” and things can proceed.
For decisions to be made, the committee members will vote with each vote being equal. Decisions are made based on a simple majority – a motion will be passed if more people vote for it than not.
Committee members have to disclose if they believe any topic or vote might raise a conflict of interest. After doing so, they should not be present when that issue is discussed or voted upon.
Finally, strata committees can vote on a motion in writing even without a meeting. There is a procedure to follow here for this to be effective, but it can be an excellent way to keep things moving if a meeting is not possible for some reason.
Committees and Strata Managers
It’s possible, and common, for many of the powers of the strata committee to be delegated to strata managers.
Given the strata managers deal with many of these things every day, they are often familiar with the necessary process and procedure and can assist committees in ensuring that they comply with the legislation. That is particularly the case if the committee is made up largely of people who have no experience in this area.
What if There is a Dispute With the Rest of the Lot Owners?
Generally speaking, decisions made by the committee are treated as decisions of the owners corporation as a whole.
However from time to time, the strata committee might be wanting to head in a direction that the bulk of the other lot owners do not believe is correct.
In such a dispute, the owners corporation will prevail over the decision of the committee.
Need Help with your Strata Committee?
Committees don’t always run smoothly. There is sometimes tension between members, or it’s unclear how a particular issue needs to be resolved.
Similarly, circumstances can come up where it’s not clear what the appropriate course is or whether the committee has the power to implement it.
In those cases, it’s best to get solid advice from strata lawyers. Reach out to us if you need to, and we’d be happy to help.