Owners Corporations when they’re more than 15 lots, most of the time, are lucky to have a quorum at their Annual General Meetings. I’m sure there are various reasons for this – people are busy working to pay the mortgage, people are busy with family and other commitments, and sometimes the strata manager doesn’t necessarily make it attractive or easy to attend the AGM.
So well done and good job to the proactive owners that not only make the effort to attend the AGM but also put their hands up to represent the Owners Corporation as Committee Members.
But what happens now that you are a Committee Member?
Duties and obligations per the Owners Corporations Act 2006 (Victoria)
The relevant sections of the Owners Corporations Act 2006, sections 117 and 118, states:
- Duties of committees and sub-committees
A member of a committee or sub-committee of an owners corporation—
(a) must act honestly and in good faith in the performance of his or her functions; and
(b) must exercise due care and diligence in the performance of his or her functions; and
(c) must not make improper use of his or her position as a member to gain, directly or indirectly, an advantage for himself or herself or for any other person.
- Immunity of committee members
(1) A member of a committee or a sub-committee is not personally liable for anything done or omitted to be done in good faith—
- (a) in the exercise of a power or the carrying out of a function under this Act or the regulations; or
- (b) in the reasonable belief that the act or omission was in the exercise of a power or the carrying out of a function under this Act or the regulations.
(2) Any liability resulting from an act or omission that, but for sub-section (1), would attach to a person, attaches instead to the owners corporation.
Functions, Duties, and Responsibilities of the OC Committee in Practice
In essence, the Owners Corporation governs:
- The administration of the Owners Corporation (budgeting, collecting levies, financial reporting, convening meetings);
- The ongoing upkeep of the building (i.e., bins in/out, cleaning, gardening, window cleaning, servicing of fire and safety equipment, lift servicing, etc.);
- The maintenance and repair of the building (i.e., electrical, plumbing, roof repair/replacement, re-concreting of common areas, repair/replacement of garage doors etc.);
- Long term maintenance plan (LTMP) – the big capital expenditures in future, how to budget, collect, and manage;
- To ensure the Owners Corporation and the building adheres to all relevant and applicable legislation (i.e., public liability insurance, building/fire safety requirements, OH&S, etc.);
- Dealing with legal matters and issues that may arise from time to time (i.e., breach of OC rules, claims against or for the OC such defects claim against a builder etc.); and
- The management of the OC – the mechanics and processes for how all the above is run and managed, the appointment/termination of the professional services company that is employed to assist with all these matters.
So How Does What the Committee Do and Don’t Do Fit into All of This?
The extent of involvement required of the Committee of the Owners Corporation will largely be dictated by:
- The size of the Owners Corporation and the building;
- The complexity of the Owners Corporation and the building; and
- The issues at hand.
For example, a block of 20 townhouses in leafy suburbia may not have much in the way of common property or issues until the day the driveway needs re-concreting. The Committee (and Owners) would then need to really involve to discuss the funding, tendering, and completion of the works required.
Whilst on being the Committee of a block of 80 or 90 apartments in the inner city will inherently require more work on the part of the Committee Members as there’s a greater volume of residents and activity.
The Week-to-Week of Being a Strata Committee Member
- Act as the conduit between the Owners & Residents and the Owners Corporation Manager;
- Attend General Meetings and Committee Meetings;
- Work with the Owners Corporation Manager;
- Review annual / quarterly budgets, income and expenditure, and balance sheet statements;
- Review the expenses of the owners corporation;
- Review the levy arrears report and work with the Owners Corporation Manager on what actions to take in regard to overdue levies;
- Ensure the owners corporation’s funds is being effectively and efficiently deployed in the running of the building – including ensure value and quality for all services contracts (i.e., cleaning, lift servicing, owners corporation management);
- Ensure quotes and work for smaller repair and maintenance items are reasonable; and
- Ensure scope of work, tender, and completion of larger repair and maintenance is reasonable.