In most cases, electing the strata committee is a quick decision made by consensus of the Owners Corporation at the annual general meeting (AGM). But when the issue of appointing strata committee members becomes contentious, the Strata Schemes Management Act 2015 and the Strata Schemes Management Regulations 2016 get reasonably (but not entirely) prescriptive and technical.
The first thing voting lot owners should be aware of is the terminology used by the Act. The strata committee does not have to be made up of lot owners, rather the strata committee can be made up of lot owners or “persons who are eligible”, which include non-lot owners who are nominated for election by a lot owner who is not a committee member or who is not a lot owner seeking election to the strata committee.
Strata committee members are not, technically, “voted” onto the committee. Rather, the process requires the Owners Corporation to determine the number of persons who will make up the strata committee and to call for nominations for strata committee members. Nominations may be called for either at the meeting or before the meeting and nominations must be closed before a vote on the number of strata committee members is determined.
If the number of nominations for strata committee members is less-than or equal-to the number of positions available, all those persons nominated will be automatically elected to the strata committee. If the number of nominations exceeds the number of positions available, then a ballot (which may be a secret ballot if at least one-quarter of those entitled to vote on the election require a secret ballot) needs to be held.
Where a ballot is held, the chair of the AGM must provide members with a voting paper. Members (that is, persons who are eligible to vote) then write the names of the persons they want elected on the voting paper. Members can write the names of as many (or as few) of the nominated persons they want on the ballot paper.
Each member gets one vote (meaning, one vote per lot) per nomination, unless a poll is called in which case lot votes are calculated in accordance with unit entitlement of the lot.
The people with the most votes and which can fill the number of positions available are elected to the strata committee. If there is a tie between the last person to be elected to the strata committee, the chair should call for a show of hands. There are some restrictions on strata committee numbers in a large scheme (that is, a scheme that has more than 100 lots the Act) provides that there must be at least three strata committee members and for all schemes there can be up to nine strata committee members.
Note also that in two lot schemes both lot owners or the company nominee of the lot owner are automatically strata committee members.
Where there are more than two owners of a lot then the lot owner that is nominated by their co-lot owners or if there is no nomination, the first named co-owner on the strata roll (or company nominee) is appointed as the strata committee member representing that lot.
The reality is that in a small scheme or in a scheme where few lot owners attend AGMs to vote on committees, the possibility of stalemates is higher. If you have questions about strata committees and the election of members, please contact us.
Kerin Benson Lawyers