34 Union Street - a really nice place to call home

Another's views of strata committees and a comment on Engagement

(This is from a website aimed at the strata industry. Unfortunately I can neither recall nor find the item to provide the accurate source. AHB 2020.)

If the strata manager is just going ahead and setting the agenda and the budget without consultation with the committee how can a building change for the better? Basically because, at least in Victoria,  AGMs don’t much matter anymore.

I’ve been to hundreds of them and they are mostly just formalities except for “other business”.   Most owners don’t even bother attending. In nearly 40 years I’ve never yet been to one that has achieved a quorum.  I’ve been to several where it was just me and the strata manager.  The budget is usually just a projection based on the past year’s expenses.

According to my strata managers (some of the biggest in Australia), it’s only when there’s a major financial decision on the AGM agenda that attendance numbers swell. 

It’s the rest of the year that really matters.  And that’s where active strata committees make a huge difference.   They handle problems and issues as they occur and get things done for the benefit of the owners and occupiers.  My committees actively engage on important issues with owners and occupiers throughout the year.  Why wait to the AGM to inform them?  IMO the AGM is becoming a bit of a nuisance.  But at least it does give owners a chance to present AGM motions for free, and to turn up to meet fellow owners, and perhaps to elect a new committee (in Victoria that does not need to be done), and of course, to set a budget.  My committees often have to undo that budget later in the year anyway.

All my SMs allow changes to their AGM agenda by any owner who wants to add to the agenda.  But they do have to be quick about it.

Note that in Victoria, around 25% of the population live in OCs (source: SCA).  But the average OC size is 8.44 lots (source: SCA).  So most strata occupiers are not living in large strata schemes. Sometimes I think too much attention is paid to issues for larger strata schemes when most people are in fact living in smaller strata schemes.  Being a committee member in both I do see a difference in how the scheme/committee/manager functions even if it is under the same law.

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A comment from Tony Blackmore of 401, a former OC member.

To me the essence of the writer's message is active engagement of the committee with our owners and occupiers. Like the author I include tenants in the group with whom an owners' committee should engage because they share equally in the benefits and problems of living together in our building. From the absent owners position their tenants' contentment is important.

So how does our Owners Committee shape up? Very poorly. Communication is the essence of engagement and our Owner's Committee stays remarkably silent. They have provided an email address - 34-union-street@googlegroups.com - but I am told that correspondence is only discussed at their monthly meetings. Outwards all is quiet, although there was the notice on the notice board and in the lifts announcing the 34 Union Street Facebook group, but the OC has yet to use it.

Over the years a newsletter has been thought of - briefly - and then in early 2020 a Facebook Group was proposed. It's here now, and used for the odd item by a few. Notably absent are any Owners Committee posts about what's happening and very few from OC members.

A regular email to all owners and residents with reference to pictures and full notes on the Facebook Group is not too much to ask of our elected committee.

I repeat the words of the author of the extract: "My committees actively engage on important issues with owners and occupiers throughout the year".

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