Flat Chat Strata Forum Strata Committees Current Page

  • This topic has 16 replies, 8 voices, and was last updated 8 months ago by .
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  • #60214
    Mailbox
    Flatchatter

    G’day.  I’m catching up on some recent Podcast episodes, and I was struck when Jimmy said that the secretary is responsible to keep the strata roll updated.  As a secretary myself, I was never aware of this and it made me aware that I never got any information about what my responsibilities are as secretary.  Nor did any of our other office bearers: we just make it up as best we can.  Is there anywhere we can look to find out what our responsibilities are?
    I live in a small block (12 units).

Viewing 15 replies - 1 through 15 (of 16 total)
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  • #60220
    Flame Tree (Qld)
    Flatchatter

    You likely have appointed a Strata Manager who will do most of this stuff for you – usually they will handle the Secretary, Chairman, and Treasurer roles and issue levy notices, help set the budgets, deal with prickly owner issues and other what-not that you pay them to do. They should also be advising you on things you are unsure of.

    As a volunteer in a service role you take on general decision making for the benefit of other owners. And that requires you to have an understanding of your state’s Act to help guide you. You definitely can’t just do what you choice on a whim if it goes against the related law and if another owner challenges your decisions on some aspect with authorities you are unlikely to be held personally liable but you can be over-ruled.

    #60229
    Sir Humphrey
    Strataguru

    How much the committee does and how much is delegated to a manager can vary from one place to another. Where some or all of the functions of the office holders are delegated to a manager, the duty of the office holder is to satisfy themselves that those functions are being carried out properly. For example, as a treasurer, I don’t have to do the banking, liaising with auditors or keep the accounts but I do regularly look over the accounts on-line to make sure that various expenses have been charged against the correct lines of the budget and that there is no income or expenditure that differs from what I expected. I prepare a draft budget for the committee to consider before it recommends it to the AGM for approval but I know that many places leave that to the managing agent as well.

    #60230
    Jimmy-T
    Keymaster

    You likely have appointed a Strata Manager who will do most of this stuff for you – usually they will handle the Secretary, Chairman, and Treasurer roles and issue levy notices, help set the budgets, deal with prickly owner issues and other what-not that you pay them to do.

    That is a big assumption.  Many larger buildings have chairs, secretaries and treasurers as well as strata managers and many, many smaller blocks don’t have a strata manager at all.

    And, yes, some strata schemes do delegate the office-bearers’ duties to the strata manager,  but many don’t.

    On the question of Secretaries’ specific duties Fair Trading’s Strata Living Guide says this:

    • Secretary: arranges meetings by providing advance notice of them, prepares and distributes meeting agendas and minutes, and maintains the strata roll.

    The NSW strata Act says:

    43   Functions of secretary of owners corporation

    The functions of a secretary of an owners corporation include the following—

    (a)  to prepare and distribute minutes of meetings of the owners corporation and submit a motion for confirmation of the minutes of any meeting of the owners corporation at the next such meeting,

    (b)  to give on behalf of the owners corporation and the strata committee of the owners corporation notices required to be given under this Act,

    (c)  to maintain the strata roll,

    (d)  to enable the inspection of documents on behalf of the owners corporation in accordance with this Act,

    (e)  to answer communications addressed to the owners corporation,

    (f)  to convene meetings of the strata committee and (apart from its first annual general meeting) of the owners corporation,

    (g)  to attend to matters of an administrative or secretarial nature in connection with the exercise of functions by the owners corporation or the strata committee of the owners corporation,

    (h)  any other functions conferred on the secretary under any other Act or law.

    I strongly recommend you and your fellow owners download the Strata Living Guide from the link above and acquaint yourself with your rights and responsibilities, as they are today.

     

     

    #60246
    Flame Tree (Qld)
    Flatchatter

    Hi Jimmy, yes correct. My proviso was inferred in my introductory words ‘You likely have appointed a Strata Manager…’ and therefor: if not, you are on your own. Of course, having a Strata Manager doesn’t absolve you of the roles a committee member/s has volunteered to understand, and undertake. Thanks.

    • This reply was modified 8 months, 2 weeks ago by .
    #60255
    Jimmy-T
    Keymaster

    Just another point that some people don’t realise: if the committee isn’t happy with what the strata manager is doing with their delegated powers, they can take them back just by holding a committee meeting and agreeing to do so.

    #60258
    Sir Humphrey
    Strataguru

    Just another point that some people don’t realise: if the committee isn’t happy with what the strata manager is doing with their delegated powers, they can take them back just by holding a committee meeting and agreeing to do so.

    Agreed and even if they are generally happy with the manager, a committee might prefer to do some particular task themselves on some particular occasion, in which case they can tell the manager ‘Thanks, but we’ll handle this one ourselves.’

    #60272
    magpie
    Flatchatter

    From bitter and painful experience I recommend that anyone who is a member of a body corporate committee read the strata living guide that Jimmy has noted above. If you are in Vic the consumer affairs site has thorough information for body corps including the roles of committee members. If you need more info their contact people are extremely helpful. You can take control of work in neglected blocks but remember that you need to instruct the manager to act for you. Your works committee, by meeting, taking minutes, then circulating those minutes to all owners, can get work done. Be careful to keep the committee in good communication as well in case one member goes rogue and contacts other owners with misinformation of planned works. It can be very difficult to right a sinking ship so best to be proactive and keep owners informed. It can seem like a lot of thankless work if the majority of owners do not seem to care, never attend an AGM, do not reply to email, etc.

    #60274
    Sir Humphrey
    Strataguru

    …Be careful to keep the committee in good communication as well in case one member goes rogue and contacts other owners with misinformation of planned works…

    Yes. I have seen that happen too.

    #60275
    philjohnk
    Flatchatter

    I recently had occasion to explain to a committee member that the topic we were discussing was mentioned in detail in the Management Statement.  He then asked me if I had a spare copy because he didn’t have one!!!  It beggars belief that anyone would take on committee responsibilities without making themselves aware of those responsibilities – it ain’t that difficult!  As Jimmy advises there’s plenty of information in the Act or at Fair Trading NSW.

    #60394
    Gronk
    Flatchatter

    OP here – thanks for all your feedback.
    For additional background, we have recently appointed a strata manager, after doing fine for the previous 40+ years without one.  But the combination of a key person who was our secretary/treasurer leaving, and the increasing complexity of compliance, has finally driven us over to the dark side.

    I will certainly chase up the resources that Jimmy recommended.

    But I am particularly focussed on philjohnk’s comments about how “It beggars belief that anyone would take on committee responsibilities without making themselves aware of those responsibilities.”  That would make sense if it was clear where to find such information.  But it isn’t clear to a layman.  You people talk about looking up an Act of Law as if it is normal; as if it is something everybody automatically knows how to do – but it isn’t.  I am not a lawyer and I never had the need to pretend I was one before.  I’m just a unit owner who went to the AGM where the previous Secretary was retiring: they asked me if I would help out be being the new one.  So now I am trying to get up to speed so I can do the job properly, and I thought it was reasonable to ask.  Though I still don’t know what the “Management Statement” is that he refers to; hopefully that will be covered in Jimmy’s resources.

    -G

    #60396
    Jimmy-T
    Keymaster

    You people talk about looking up an Act of Law as if it is normal; as if it is something everybody automatically knows how to do – but it isn’t. I am not a lawyer and I never had the need to pretend I was one before.

    I’m not a lawyer either.  At first I just Googled “Strata Act” and then built up my knowledge from there (over several years, it has to be said).  Wherever I can, I put the link to the Act or the relevant section, so people can access it themselves, if they are interested.

    That said, phrases like “you people” and “pretend to be a lawyer” are just a bit insulting, especially when people are trying to offer you advice free of charge.

    But I’m not entirely sure where I would find the management statement for my scheme either.  I thought that philjonk’s comment was a little harsh but I don’t think it was directed at you.

    I think its good that you have a strata manager.  The problem with having someone on the committee who knows everything they need to know is that they leave a vacuum when they go off, taking the knowledge with them.

     

    #60397
    Jimmy-T
    Keymaster

    It beggars belief that anyone would take on committee responsibilities without making themselves aware of those responsibilities – it ain’t that difficult!

    Belated response to this: There are things we know, things that we know we don’t know and things we don’t know that we don’t know.

    If you are never told that there is stuff you need to learn and where to find that information, and no one around you knows either, how does an ordinary punter who just wants to lend a hand even know where to look or what they are supposed to be looking for?

    That’s why Fair Trading has announced a big push to educate strata committee members

     

    #60403
    Gronk
    Flatchatter

    … phrases like “you people” and “pretend to be a lawyer” are just a bit insulting, especially when people are trying to offer you advice free of charge.

    I do apologize – I let some of my pent-up frustration come out.  I did not intend for it to sound critical of anybody here, but of the situation.  All I meant was that in my previous experience, only a lawyer would ever have the need, or the ability, to look up an actual Act of law – let alone having the specialized knowledge to understand it properly.  My only exposure has been on the media where I hear how lawyers spend ages in court debating how an Act should be interpreted.  All completely outside of my experience (up to now, at least).

    I still find it bizarre that people who volunteer to help out are suddenly held accountable to standards that they are never advised of.  But I look forward to reading up on Jimmy’s resources and getting up to speed with all these issues.  And if there are initiatives to orient committee members to their roles, I will be fully behind those.

    #60405
    Jimmy-T
    Keymaster
    I do apologize – I let some of my pent-up frustration come out.
    Been there, done that, got the t-shirt. Strata can be an incredibly frustrating business.  Have a look at what OCN (ocn.org.au) does in educating and supporting owners. They are the main reason NSW is a couple of years ahead of any other state in Australia when it comes to building communities.

     

    #60453
    tina
    Flatchatter

    I learnt a lot from this forum,  Q&A pages from strata lawyer web sites and the Office of Fair Trading.  However, my brother is a lawyer.  He advised me that I should always refer to the Strata Schemes Management Act 2015 for the truth.  NCAT follows the Act, not what some mug wrote on the internet.

    Create a bookmark folder for strata stuff.  Bookmark these pages in your web browser:

    Strata Schemes Management Act 2015 (NSW)

    https://legislation.nsw.gov.au/view/html/inforce/current/act-2015-050

     

    Strata Schemes Management Regulation 2016 (NSW)

    https://legislation.nsw.gov.au/view/html/inforce/current/sl-2016-0501

     

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