"Strata schemes legislation requires the Owners Corporation hold various meetings from time to time. Listed below is a general explanation of the types of meetings you may come across in strata and what they're all about. There's also some details on a few of the other things that go into a meeting along with some extra information links to help you. However, make sure you refer to the relevant legislation on these topics to get the complete details."
Everyone is still trying to come to grips with exactly how the NEW legislation changes (that came into effect on Nov 30, 2016) will affect our strata lives and some companies may be a little slow changing some of their webpages, forms and articles to reflect the new laws.
So please be a little patient if some of the links I give you refer back to some old legislation or have simply disappeared.
I have to have SOME faith so I'm hoping most will update their info as soon as possible. Eventually everyone will be on the same page but it could take just a little time. Just know that I will be keeping my ear to the ground for changes...and that I will do my best to fix what I can as soon as I can.
If you're looking for complete 'legislative' details on ALL Strata meetings, including the special requirements for large & 2-lot Strata Schemes, then check out the following links. These will give you EVERYTHING you must know about the different meetings with all the restrictions and conditions that apply. I know it can be hard going sometimes reading through the 'legalese' but it IS all there and at your finger tips if you ever have to refer to it.
The TWO big ones (from the NSW Strata Schemes Management Act 2015) to definitely 'digest' are :
These two will give you: what's to be included in agendas, what motions must be included, the timing and how the notices must be given and to who, quorum rules, voting rights and procedures, tenant conditions, proxy rights and limits, large and 2-lot scheme conditions and even more.
They are THE manuals giving you the A-Z for strata meetings - so bookmark these 2 schedules...
NSW Fair Trading, as usual, has an excellent fact sheet on Meetings of the Owners Corporation and you should make sure you read it if you want the full story about general meetings (GM's) while the fact sheet titled Meetings of the Strata Committee will give you heaps of great information on everything to do with the Strata Committee Meetings (SCM). In fact, you should bookmark these 2 as well.
They also has a well-written booklet called Strata Living which covers the A-Z of all things strata. Information about the different meetings starts on page 29 (through to page 32) AND IS HIGHLY RECOMMENDED READING. I absolutely love this little booklet because it's to-the-point and very easy to read.
My DISCLAIMER - While I have made every effort to be as accurate as I can, the information below does not cover every little "twist and turn" associated with Strata Meetings and I may have missed an item or three due to the new legislation.  There are just too many contingencies to cover them all on this page so I strongly suggest you read through the various resources I have provided (via external links) to get the full and complete picture. Some very sound advice is "when in doubt or unsure - refer to the legislation".
And lastly (for this section), if you need to know the meaning of one or more of the common terms mentioned on this page then have a look at the Strata Terms and Jargon Information page.
There are 2 main types of strata meetings - General Meetings and Strata Committee Meetings.
General Meetings have 3 different sub-types: First Annual General Meeting, Annual General Meeting and Extraordinary General Meeting.
And all of these have varying conditions and rules that are spelt out in the legislation I pointed you to in the preceding section and I will be going over each type of meeting in the sections below.
One of the requirements for every meeting held is there must be a certain number of clear days notice given to those eligible to attend the meeting which includes owners AND 'registered' tenants. Who are registered tenants? Glad you asked - a 'REGISTERED' tenant is a tenant who name has been put on a Tenancy Notice and then given to the OC - see NSW SSMA 2015: Section 258: Tenancy notice to be given to OC.
The actual number of days and type of notice will depend on the type of meeting being convened and the size of the scheme you live in. The specific details for the different meeting types, including what info has to be included, can be found in the sections below.
The old 'snail mail'...it STILL exists for many and, in fact, a LOT of people prefer to receive a 'hard copy' of everything. Even I have been known to insist on the "paper version" of some things BUT we all now live in the digital age and the latest legislation has come a long way regarding the embracing of this new technology and so, it's now legally acceptable to receive all 'correspondence' (including notices of meetings) via email.
HOWEVER, normal postage is most definitely still with us (for now) so when meeting notices are actually SNAIL MAILED, the clear days notice will need to allow a reasonable amount of time for it to be delivered - which should include the date of posting PLUS 4 working days and exclude the date of the meeting - just to be safe.
Now, I didn't see a specific reference to 'time for postage' in the SSMA 2015 or the SSMR 2016 so we'll run with what we DO know --- If it IS in there, please point me to it.
As I mentioned above, the latest round of legislation has just about fully embraced the various digital methods of distribution and Section 176 of the NSW SSMA 2015 discusses HOW "records required to be made or stored" can be done in a form "determined by the Owners Corporation". Now THAT leaves options pretty wide-open and notices - which sort of qualify as a 'record' - fall under that umbrella - as do many other 'items' handled by the Owners Corporation like minutes, financial statements, budgets, levies, letters, etc. Obviously the "Time for Postage" restriction does not apply if an item is sent by email but any "Clear Days Notice" conditions still do.
A motion submitted at a general meeting must not be considered, and an election must not be held unless there is a quorum present to consider and vote on the motion or on the election. And achieving a Quorum is usually conditional on the minimum number of "eligible" members who can vote being present. However, the Chairperson has the final say as to whether or not the general meeting goes ahead (if a quorum is not achieved) based on an arbitrary decision made by the Chairperson. Now THAT might lead to a few interesting scenarios unless some strict rules are put in place ahead of time... (Read my section on Adjournments just below.)
A quorum for any General Meetings is when:
Please note that TENANTS who attend meetings do NOT count when determining a quorum.
Schedule 1- Meeting procedures of Owners Corporation: Part 3 Section 17 - Quorum provides the "official" status.
It's about half way through the document so look out for Section 17.
Meeting adjournments CAN occur when there is NOT a quorum present at a meeting after 30 minutes from the start of the meeting.
If a quorum is NOT present within 30 minutes of the scheduled time for commencement of the general meeting, the Chairperson MUST either adjourn the meeting for at least 7 days with notice of the rescheduled time and place being given by the Secretary to the owners (and any registered tenants) at least 1 day prior to the rescheduled meeting OR decide that those who ARE present constitute a Quorum which means the meeting can go ahead.
Now, if there is AGAIN no quorum within 30 minutes of the start time for those meetings that WERE adjourned, it can still go ahead with those in attendance who are eligible to vote.
Schedule 1- Meeting procedures of Owners Corporation: Part 3 Section 20 - Adjournments provides the "official" status. It's about half way through the document too.
Each owner has voting rights at a general meeting but only if the owner is shown on the strata roll AND they're eligible to vote. If the owner is a corporation, then the company nominee is the person entitled to vote. If the person with the voting rights cannot attend the meeting then they have the option of appointing a proxy. I go into more detail about proxies a bit further down the page as there are some restrictions with the new strata laws that came into force on November 30th, 2016.
However, if the person eligible to vote is behind on their levy payments or they owe any other money to the Owners Corporation then that person cannot vote until the outstanding debt is removed. The only exception to this restriction is where the motion requires a Unanimous Resolution.
Tenants, while able to attend general meetings, cannot vote (unless they hold a proxy vote) or put forward a motion or even nominate someone (a Tenant Representative) to be on the Strata Committee. However they may actually speak at a meeting but only if permission has been granted by a simple resolution of the Owners Corporation. They can also be asked to leave a meeting when certain 'sensitive' matters are discussed - mainly financial 'things'.
Oh, and as I mentioned earlier, they are NOT counted when determining quorums either. Hhhmmm, what CAN they do? Turn up and learn about stuff I guess. Sort of a case of FYI - that's "For Your Information" (for those of you out there who didn't know what I was eluding too). HOWEVER, while a tenant representative CAN attend a Strata Committee meeting, he (or she) still cannot vote nor be counted in the determining of a quorum - so the end result is pretty much the same. But it's a lot better than what it previously was.
There's a lot more to this whole voting rights thing but you'll have to read NSW SSMA 2015: Schedule 1 - Part 4 for General Meetings AND SSMA 2015: Schedule 2 - Section 10 for Strata Committee Meetings if you want to the "official" wording.
So in summary, those eligible to vote are:
Depending on the type of resolution required, the votes of eligible members can be based on a simple majority vote or the unit entitlement of each lot. The unit entitlement voting essentially means that those lot owners with a higher unit entitlement have more voting "power" than those with a lower unit entitlement. Any resolution requiring a Poll and all Special resolutions use this method of voting.
Tenants, if they have been registered with the owners corporation, can now attend meetings (with some conditions), BUT they cannot vote unless they have been given a proxy vote.
There are certain votes that are deemed as Priority Votes and these can be cast by anybody based on any of the following motions:
A priority vote can also be cast in relation to a specific lot and, in this case, a vote by the owner of the lot (on this motion) does NOT count. Also, be aware that a priority vote has NO EFFECT unless at least 2 days notice of the intention to raise the priority vote at a meeting has been given to the owner of the affected lot - see NSW SSMA 2015: Schedule 1 Clause 24 - Priority Votes for the actual piece of legislation on all this. NOTE: Clause 24 is towards the end of the Schedule document.
Even when only a simple majority vote is needed, a poll can be called for any resolution by any owner present and eligible to vote.
When a poll is demanded, each vote can have a different value. Those values are based on the lot's unit entitlement for each voting lot owner. In this situation, an owner with the greater unit entitlement has more voting 'power' than an owner with a lower unit entitlement.
Each vote 'for' and each vote 'against' is then counted, using the calculated values, and the voting 'group' having the greatest value wins.
Special Note - When the original owner owns more than half of the total unit entitlements the original owner's vote is reduced by 2/3 of the original owner's total unit entitlement (ignoring any fraction) to ensure fairness during voting. POLLS are not used in Strata Committee Meetings.
Generally, resolutions for motions are usually decided (i.e. resolved) by a simple majority vote. This is either by numbers or, in the event of a poll, by unit entitlement. Such resolutions are known as SIMPLE resolutions or ORDINARY resolutions.
There are certain 'more urgent or more serious' matters that can only be decided by a:
Motions requiring Special or Unanimous resolutions must be noted on the agenda prior to a meeting while Polls can be requested for any motion at any time. See NSW SSMA 2015: Section 5: Resolutions of Owners Corporations.
Special Note - POLLS are not used in Strata Committee Meetings
A motion (or agenda item) at a general meeting is decided by the number of votes cast FOR or AGAINST the motion, with each owner having one vote for each lot they own. Most decisions can be made by a simple majority vote (i.e. ordinary or simple resolution) but sometimes a special resolution or unanimous resolution or a poll is needed.
The chairperson can rule a motion as "out of order" if the motion conflicts with the Act, is unlawful or unenforceable.
A motion must:
The Owners Corporation must keep full and accurate minutes of any Annual General or Extraordinary General Meetings and provide copies of the minutes of each meeting within 14 days to each member of the Strata Committee along with each owner of the strata scheme if the strata scheme is NOT a large scheme.
If the scheme IS a large scheme (i.e. a scheme with more than 100 lots excluding all utility and parking lots) then a copy of the minutes is only provided if the owner requests a copy and, if requested, must be provided within 14 days - see Schedule 1: Part 4 Sections 22 - Minutes for the full detail. You'll find it towards the bottom of the document.
Proxies are voting rights of an eligible voter (who cannot attend the upcoming meeting) transferred to another person who CAN attend the meeting. A proxy is invalid if the person appointing the proxy attends the meeting.
For a proxy to be valid it must be:
NOTE - Proxies can be used for Strata Committee Meetings but it's a far simpler process compared to the use of proxies for General Meetings due to the fact that SC meetings have only a few members so proxies are not as critical
The total number of proxies that may be held by a person (other than proxies held by the person as the co-owner of a lot) voting on a resolution are as follows:
I think you get the idea now and can do the calculations for other larger sized schemes if you need to but essentially it's ONE proxy for EVERY 20 lots OR PART THERE OF (as the saying goes).
NOTE - The latest legislation that came into force on November 30th 2016 put the limit on how many proxies could be held by one person to stop proxy farming that allowed a few resourceful power mongers (including developers) to control the outcome of many motions - sometimes to the detriment of the strata scheme. Thankfully this practice has been all but stopped - well, at least I hope it has...but time will tell as people can be very resourceful.
Want the "official" details?
OK, then read Schedule 1- Meeting procedures of Owners Corporation: Part 4 Sections 25 & 26. It starts close to the bottom of the document.
A proxy has effect for the period specified in the proxy. That period can be no more than 12 months or for two consecutive AGMs, whichever is later. If a proxy form doesn't state the length of the proxy, it will be valid for one general meeting only.
The following conditions apply to a proxy:
The First Annual General Meeting is a really important one for all strata schemes. A lot of very important things are created and setup and decided upon at this meeting. In fact the very foundations of the strata scheme are built at this meeting and we all know how important good foundations are to any structure.
The original owner is responsible for the convening and holding of the First Annual General Meeting (sometimes referred to as the FAGM) not later than 2 months after the expiration of the initial period (i.e. when 1/3 of the total unit entitlement have been sold and settled) irrespective of whether or not the original owner still owns any lots in the scheme.
You can read a little more on Strata scheme Initial Periods in the section called Miscellaneous Section - Initial Period on the NSW Registrar General's Directions website.
NOTE - If the original owner still owns more than 50% of the total unit entitlement and a vote by special resolution or poll is requested, the value of the original owner's vote can be reduced by 2/3 of original owner's unit entitlement to ensure fairness during voting.
For the first annual general meeting a notice of meeting must be sent to each lot owner, company nominee, first mortgagee and covenant chargee, as shown on the strata roll and each registered tenant (if any) of a lot in the strata scheme who has been notified as a tenant of the lot to the Owners Corporation. There must be 14 clear days notice given plus time for postage if the notice is being mailed.
The actual details on notice (and the convening of the meeting) can be found in the NSW SSMA 2015: Section 14 - First AGM must be held within 2 months after initial period.
There is a statutory agenda contained in the NSW SSMA 2015 - Section 15: Agenda for First AGM AND NSW SSMR 2016 - Regulation 5: Agenda for First AGM for motions to be decided upon.
Topics MUST include (but not limited to):
According to the NSW SSMA 2015 - Section 16: Documents & Records to be provided... the original owner must give the following items to the Owners Corporation at the First Annual General Meeting:
NOTE - The original owner is liable for a penalty if he (or she) fails to hold the FAGM within the proper time frame as set down by the legislation. Effectively there's no excuse for not holding the meeting and an adjudicator can be appointed to ensure the meeting goes ahead.
A clause in the legislation can let the original owner off the hook a little as it states "an original owner is only required to deliver to the OC a thing if that thing is in possession or control of the original owner...". Definite loop-hole there.
The Annual General Meeting (sometimes referred to as the AGM) must be held at least ONCE in each financial year of the corporation. (See Section 18 of the NSW SSMA 2015.)
For every Annual General Meeting (excluding the FAGM) a notice of meeting must be sent to each lot owner, company nominee, first mortgagee and covenant chargee, as shown on the strata roll and each registered tenant (if any) of a lot in the strata scheme who has been notified as a tenant of the lot to the Owners Corporation. There must be 7 clear days notice given plus time for postage if the notice is being mailed.
NOTE: A copy of the minutes from the previous general meeting must accompany the notice unless a particular owner has already received a copy.
The Owners Corporation MUST also, at the request of an owner of a lot, give a copy of the last financial statements prepared for the admin and capital works funds at least 2 days before the meeting.
A copy of the agenda for a meeting must be given to each tenant (who has been notified as a tenant to the OC) either 7 days before the meeting OR be prominently displayed on any noticeboard maintained by the OC. The copies of all the other documents (such as the previous minutes, financial statement, etc) may be give to the tenants if the OC decides to do so.
TIP - It's always advisable for all owners to attend at least the AGM for their scheme to stay in touch with what's happening regarding their investment. Only with active owner participation can the scheme remain healthy and trouble-free.
All general meetings that are NOT Annual General Meetings are called Extraordinary General Meetings and are sometimes referred to as an EGM.
EGM's are held:
EGM's are convened by the secretary of the Owners Corporation (OC) or the Strata Manager (if one has been appointed) forwarding a notice of meeting to all owners, first mortgagees and covenant chargees, as shown on the strata roll.
For every Extraordinary General Meeting, a notice of meeting must be sent to each lot owner, company nominee, first mortgagee and covenant chargee, as shown on the strata roll and each registered tenant (if any) of a lot in the strata scheme who has been notified as a tenant of the lot to the Owners Corporation. There must be 7 clear days notice given plus time for postage if the notice is being mailed.
NOTE: A copy of the minutes for the previous general meeting must accompany the notice unless a particular owner has already received a copy.
The agenda for the EGM will consist of some specific matters raised by the SC or the OC that require discussion or decisions and can't wait till the next AGM.
If you are eligible to vote at an EGM, you may give written notice of the matter to the secretary of the SC, keeping in mind the number of clear days notice required for this type of meeting - i.e. 7 days.
The NSW Strata Schemes Management Act 2015 does not specify how often a Strata Committee must meet - similar to EGM's - but these meetings are the vitally important to the scheme...AND, in case you didn't know...Owners are allowed to attend these meetings but can't say anything unless given the OK by a simple resolution of the Strata Committee. Oh and being able to vote is off the table too.
SCM's are convened by the secretary of the Owners Corporation (OC) or any other member of the Strata Committee, if requested to do so by 1/3 of the members of the committee or by a previous resolution of the Strata Committee itself.
The meeting must be held:
The details of this can be found in the NSW SSMA 2015: Section 39 - Convene meetings.
The secretary must send a notice about the meeting (including the agenda) to each member of the Strata Committee (including any tenant representative nominated for the strata committee) and to each owner - as well as putting it on the scheme's noticeboard(s) at least 3 days before the meeting is scheduled to be held.
IMPORTANT: A Tenant Representative is only needed if a strata scheme has tenants for at least HALF of the number of lots.
The notice must state when and where the meeting is to be held and include an agenda detailed enough to inform everyone as to what's proposed to be discussed and resolved by the committee.
Minutes of any SCM's held must be given to each member of the strata committee and each member of the owners corporation (if the scheme is NOT large) within 7 days after the meeting.
If the strata scheme is designated as 'large' (i.e. a strata scheme with more than 100 lots excluding any utility or parking lots) then the minutes will be provided to each member of the Strata Committee and any owner that REQUESTS a copy within the period of 7 days following the meeting - see Schedule 2: Part 3 Sections 17 - Minutes and Other Records for the full detail. You'll find this section towards the bottom of the document.
A quorum for strata committee meetings is when:
The quorum for Strata Committees is calculated on the base number of strata committee members.
Strata Committee Meetings may be adjourned for any reason if a motion is passed at the meeting for the adjournment. When an SC meeting is adjourned due to a lack of a quorum or any other reason, notice of the rescheduled time and place being given by the Secretary to every owner at least 1 day prior to the rescheduled meeting AND the notice be displayed on the scheme's Notice Board unless there is NOT one - in which case it can be distributed via email or some other electronic means.
All the above information and more can be found on NSW Fair Trading's Meetings of the Strata Committee fact sheet.
And here's the link for Schedule 2 - Meeting procedures of Strata Committees in case you missed it at the top of the page.
Everything is in here guys.
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