In NSW, the Strata Schemes Management Act 2015 (the Act) regulates how general meetings (sometimes called extraordinary general meetings) and annual general meetings (AGM) of owners corporation are called and held.
Most general meetings are straightforward, but when an issue or a motion is contentious, owners and owners corporations should be aware of the legislation that governs meetings, as well as practical guidelines.
The secretary of the owners corporation can call a general meeting, so too can the strata committee. The strata manager can also call a general meeting they have been delegated the functions of the secretary. If none of those parties are in your camp, a written request to your secretary, strata committee or strata committee from lot owners with at least 25% of unit entitlements can demand a general meeting be held.
The Act requires that the chair of the strata committee be the chair of any general meeting. However, the Owners Corporation at the meeting may elect another person to chair the meeting at the start of the meeting. If your owners corporation has a strata manager, the strata manager may have been delegated the function of chair though the strata management agreement which means they can chair the meeting.
The Act does not expressly state that each motion on the agenda for the meeting must be read or put at the meeting before a vote is taken, however, convention dictates that this is necessary. The Act does require the chair to declare the result of voting on a motion or an election if it is possible to do so.
The chair does not have a deciding vote, but they can rule a motion out of order if the motion is contrary to the Act or law, or if the form of motion does not comply with the Act.
Most motions at a general meeting will be passed by ordinary resolution – that is by a simple majority of one vote per lot owner. However, from time to time it may be advantageous to a lot owner or a group of lot owners to have their votes cast in accordance with their unit entitlement. This can be useful in schemes where unit entitlement amongst lot owners is uneven. To have a vote calculated based on unit entitlement, an owner at the general meeting must demand a poll. The demand for a poll can be made before and motion is put, or immediately after a vote is taken.
The Act does not dictate how a motion may be amended at a meeting. In practice, amending a motion at a meeting should be avoided at all costs because of the strict requirements under the Act to give notice of motions to all lot owners prior to the meeting. If a motion must be amended, convention requires that only the person who required the motion can amend it, the chair must permit a motion to amend the motion, and the persons at the meeting must vote to allow an amendment, thereafter, the amended motion must also be voted on. Furthermore, amendments must not materially change the motion, this means that amendments should be restricted to minor corrections.
Author: Gemma Lumley
Kerin Benson Lawyers