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 AHB of 401, a former OC member.

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

When a party has a reason to communicate a suggestion, complaint, an enquiry and so on, our 34 Union Street way of operating has only one destination - to MIA with email, phone, mail and physical location available. If the intention was to deal with the OC one must rely on MIA to forward the message. And how does the OC communicate with its electorate? Again through MIA.

I repeat the words of the author of this little extract: "My committees actively engage on important issues with owners and occupiers throughout the year". How can this kind of dialogue work when all traffic goes through the property manager?.

Over the years a newsletter has been thought of - for a while - and then in early 2020 a Facebook Group was to be the answer, but still no result.

I am sure that all parties have an email address and it is easy for an address such as the one used on this little site 34UnionSt@iinet.net.au to be the OC address, and easy to provide provide transferable privacy to each new OC.

Imagine receiving an email each month canvassing ideas, reporting on new works or problems that have arisen and canvassing for ideas. And the convenience of email addresses either for MIA or direct to your Owners Committee. It can be done in a day or two and at a cost of less than $100 annually.

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