Why Owners Should Always Attend Body Corporate Meetings

July 4th, 2017

Strata Data - Why Owners Should Always Attend Body Corporate Meetings

Please note, the below article provides general rules that will vary from state to state.

As a property owner, your time may be limited, and therefore your time budget for meetings may be relatively small. Despite this, you shouldn’t forget the importance of Body Corporate Meetings (now officially referred to as Owner’s Corporation Meetings), and how integral your attendance is in shaping the direction and future of your investments.

As an owner of a Lot, you have certain rights and obligations outlined in the Body Corporate and Community Management Act (BCCMA), which ensures that your interests will be protected, as well as outlining the necessities of your role. While it’s not compulsory to nominate yourself for committee positions, or to attend all meetings, they’re integral in getting your voice heard, particularly under times of upheaval or change.

What does the body corporate shape?

By law, there must be at least one annual general meeting (AGM) of the body corporate, and all owners must be given the option of attending. Other large-scale meetings may be convened, but they require 14 days notice given to all owners.

At the AGM, the following things are decided:

  • A body corporate committee may be formed, who will conduct business throughout the year, as well as structure changes to rules.
  • On top of the position of regular committee members, a treasurer, secretary, and chairperson are elected. These can be filled by any owner (or a nominee from an individual or corporate owner if that owner is not themselves running for election simultaneously).

Once these are decided upon, further meetings take one of two shapes: firstly, direct meetings for individuals and small groups in front of the committee, requiring 3 days notice to all relevant parties, or the aforementioned 14 day notice formal meeting which all owners may attend.

Shaping by-laws

Each strata has their own internal set of rules, some of which are outlined in law, and the remainder are largely up to being decided upon by a combination of the original developer and the body corporate.

Because these can potentially be in flux, or subject to change, and are also enforced privately rather than through legal arms, changes are usually discussed and agreed upon during body corporate meetings.

If you want to be able to represent your opinion on by-laws, especially those that might affect you, then the easiest, most convenient, and largest reaching avenue you can take is to be an active voice in body corporate meetings; not just the ones that discuss your issue, but ongoingly across issues that might not always affect you.

Let’s take an example:

You own a lot that you live in yourself, and cohabitate with somebody who possesses poor vision approaching blindness. They want to get a seeing-eye helper dog, but technically speaking your lot by-laws forbid any animals.

Going to body corporate meetings, you can raise the issue of helper animals, and whether the extremely reasonable request for an exception over an animal which is necessary to maintain quality of life, would be valid.

Remember that it is much, much easier to conduct a conversation or request in person, rather than remotely. Humans process information better and can more easily see the humanity behind the conversation when done face-to-face, instead of behind a screen name or in handwriting.

Resolving issues

The BCC is responsible for an overwhelming amount of responsibilities within the strata, ranging from by-laws, requests and complaints, fulfilling meeting resolutions, budgets, and general reports.

Due to this, continual interest in the future of the strata may play to both your individual and group advantage when it comes to resolving complaints and issues between owners and management, or with each other.

If you find yourself in a situation where simple correspondence is no longer fit to resolve an issue (eg: somebody is making noise during sleeping hours, and asking them to stop has had no effect), the next step is to ask the meeting committee to give them a formal warning before pursuing further with fines.

Alternately, if you believe that either punishment won’t be effective, or wish to resolve it amicably (in cases where there’s no ‘correct’ person according to bylaws, but both people won’t budge), you can convene a mediation process.

Many benefits to attending Owners Corporation Meetings

All in all, it’s important for owners to attend meetings that deal with issues surrounding their properties, so that they can bypass the complexities of email and written communication, and instead voice their opinions and concerns in a public, straightforward manner. This will ensure that issues and complications are resolved quickly and smoothly, and will ease the processes regarding responsibilities such as budgets, meeting resolutions, and reports.