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  • #54111

    A frequently recurring theme in Flatchat seems to be that of the “Do-nothing Strata Committee.” They can’t be motivated to do this, fix that, etc. etc. Having just emerged moderately victorious after nine months of trench warfare over two fairly critical issues in our Sydney block, we now feel qualified to present  my recipe for motivating your strata committee.

    There are many, many well-run Committees served by selfless, hard-working people. But not all are like that. There have been plenty of posts on Flatchat that well describe the grief and frustration caused by slack-o Committees.

    If you are a brilliant motivational psychologist, or a bully who enjoys harassing and threatening people, then you have your own methods and you don’t need to read this. But if you are an ordinary Joe or Josephine, read on……

    No-one is likely to get every single thing he or she wants, in exactly the way they want it. Eventually you will have to arrive at some sort of compromise. You must get everything you need, but probably not everything you would have liked. You will have to leave the Committee with some shred of dignity. Cynical professional negotiators go in for ambit claims, claims for much more than they know they can ever get. We don’t recommend this approach – just decide what it is that you must achieve, and what you can compromise on.

    Patience and persistence are your guiding lights. Nothing will happen quickly, even in a well-intentioned Committee that really does plan to get things done. This is true of any committee-style setup in any setting. Negotiations and talking people around takes time. If you are the impatient, quick-on-the-trigger type, you are headed for a lot of stress and an unsatisfactory outcome.

    Patience does not mean doing nothing. It means slowly and steadily ramping up the pressure until the Committee gives way. It took us nine months of persistent effort.

    Everything, everything must be in writing. If you have a conversation with someone who says they are going to do this or that, send them an email afterwards summarising your version of what was said. Keep social chitchat to a minimum. Things that were said can be denied – that’s not so with written records.

    Know your By-laws really well! Many Committee members have little or no idea what’s in them.

    It is a principle of motivation that the threat of doing something gets more results than the actual doing. So, we made the taking of our case to NCAT our very, very last option.

    Do a bit of training. The City of Sydney runs an excellent free course on Strata law and practice. Three hours, one night a week. You’ll meet an interesting cross-section of Strata-people.

    And keep reading Flatchat! We have found it absolutely invaluable.

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  • #54122

    Hi Brianpr… Thanks for this informative post. But you’re obviously starting from a point where the committee has some basic functionality and competence!

    I live in a small, 12 unit block (Sydney, south eastern suburbs) built in the 1960s. At our recent AGM (which was more than 3 months overdue) every (financial) resident owner nominated and were appointed to the committee – 7 people in all. One gentleman (I’ll call him U10; he’s lived here the longest and owns 2 units) is treated as the nominal chair simply by dint of his tenure. The building is reasonably well looked after and major issues get fixed fairly quickly but with minimal consultation. I have been trying to institute a more proactive approach since I moved in 5 years ago to no avail. Mr U10 uses textbook passive aggressive tactics to avoid convening meetings and we end up having discussions over group emails. The only benefit of the email issue is that it means these “discussions” are recorded.

    I’ve tried to call a meeting but then U10 says “I don’t think we need a meeting…” and so nothing happens!!!! I’m not a particularly patient or politically adept person so this is driving me completely mental.

    I look forward to reading more.


    I’ve tried to call a meeting but then U10 says “I don’t think we need a meeting…” and so nothing happens!

    Section 39 of the act says that the committee of a small scheme must hold a meeting within 14 days if requested by two-thirds of the committee.

    In your situation, that means three people.  However, if you can’t get two more members to agree to join you in calling the  meeting, you’re not going to get very far anyway.

    39   Convening meetings

    (1)  The secretary of the owners corporation may convene a meeting of the strata committee at any time.

    (2)  The secretary of the owners corporation, or any other member of the strata committee, must convene a meeting of the committee if requested to do so by at least one-third of the members of the committee.

    (3)  The meeting must be held—

    (a)  in the case of a large strata scheme, not later than 28 days after the request is made, or

    (b)  in the case of any other strata scheme, not later than 14 days after the request is made.

    Don’t worry about the politics – just write a note saying that under Section 39 of the Strata Schemes Management Act you would like a meeting to be called within (say) 21 days and get two other owners to co-sign it.  If the self-appointed chair takes offence, tell him you asked politely before and you always get rebuffed.  And reassure him (and the other owners) that there’s no great political moves afoot – you would just rather discuss matters face-to-face every so often.


    I’m not a particularly patient or politically adept person so this is driving me completely mental.

    Ooh, danih! This is a long game you are playing. If you want to win, find a way to manage your stress – exercise, meditation, tearing up little paper dolls – whatever works for you. Patience and persistence are the key!


    Hi Brianpr,

    Thanks so much for this post. Like danih I am a bit impatient. Great advice, thank you

    • This reply was modified 2 months, 3 weeks ago by .

    My experience is that a do nothing committee is a reflection of the chairman.
    I have invigorated two committees by getting elected as the chairman. How did I achieve the chair? I spoke to other committee members and asked what they wanted, then found ways to deliver it to them.

    On another committee, it’s taking more than two years to get them rounded up and heading in a forward direction. ( I’m not the chairman, but I’m showing leadership) It’s really frustrating for me as I’m a point and shoot type of guy. But I keep reminding myself that I have the long game in mind.

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