ESM recognise the many sacrifices council members make in carrying out their duties and obligations. This can at times be quite onerous so we want to focus on assisting in making these tasks as easy as possible. One area of the role is attending council meetings. This can take up a lot of time, so this month we would like to provide a guide to ensure that they can run as smoothly and effectively as possible.
Please also find a link to the knowledgebase article where you can find a template for a council agenda.
Legislation Requirements (Strata Titles Act 1985)
The below are in accordance with the standard schedule by-laws. You should also check to see if your strata company have specific by-laws or ask your strata manager.
- Matters are resolved on a simple majority vote
- At least 7 day’s notice is required to be given in order to call a Council Meeting (unless all Council members are present, and waive that requirement) specifying the reason for meeting
- If members cannot attend they can appoint a proxy (usually a fellow council members or another owner – it MUST be an owner registered on a title)
- Minutes of the meeting must be kept and recorded
Strata Titles Amendment Act 2018 (upcoming changes)
The above legislative requirements remain the same however there is a new clause that specifies that a council member must declare in writing if they have a conflict of interest and that they are unable to vote on that matter at a meeting. For example a council member owns a company from whom a quote is being considered.
First council meeting
The first meeting may be held immediately after the AGM if every member of the council is present and there is unanimous agreement on waiving the notice period. A meeting may validly conduct business but only to the extent that every member remains and continues to agree to such business being conducted. At the first Council Meeting, you must elect the positions of Chairperson, Secretary & Treasurer (a single person can be 1, 2, or all 3 positions if wanted).
Organisation and the agenda
The proceedings of meetings of the council usually comprise a relatively informal discussion of matters of strata company business preceding a decision by simple majority vote on every matter. Don’t forget that a “tied” vote determines the matter in the negative (this is why we like to encourage odd numbers on council). It is important to plan ahead and for the agenda to be clear. The agenda should communicate the purpose and objectives for the meeting. Council members will need to ensure they have read the agenda before the meeting and have actioned any items from the previous meeting in advance. Well planned meetings that focus on decision making and outcomes are the most successful. Other than where there is a request by one member for a meeting the Chairman or the Secretary would usually decide when and for what purpose a council meeting will be held. It may be the appointed strata manager who initiates and administers the physical planning activity and notification. This may in fact be a much more efficient method of getting these meetings arranged and doesn’t preclude the full council or the Secretary from being active in this respect.
Generally, the council can meet together for the conduct of business, adjourn and otherwise regulate its meetings, as it thinks fit. At least some degree of planning for every council meeting is required if only to determine:
- The order in which any business might be most efficiently dealt with;
- The format of and detail to be included in the notice;
- The associated agenda;
- Any supporting documentation which will provide information and promote informed discussion;
Sharing the work load
Productive meetings require all council members to contribute and do their part to share the work load around. It is also important to give each council member the opportunity to speak for/against each item on the agenda. The phrase ‘many hands make light work’ is very fitting for this.
Stick to the agenda
It may be difficult, but perhaps the most important thing to do is to stick to the agenda. It is easy to drift off into a different tangent which can lead to the meetings running overtime. The business on the agenda should be dealt with in an orderly manner with the usual rules of meeting procedure being followed. Try to avoid extensive discussion and conversation with no direction or resolutions.
It may help to appoint somebody with leadership experience to be your Chairperson, as this can often give attendees a clear, diplomatic and inclusive figure to whom they can direct any questions. These questions can often be complex and layered, so it’s also important that the chair is able to navigate conflict or disagreements within the meeting, while keeping to the agenda as much as possible. At the end of the meeting, being able to listen to other queries and direct attendees to the answer is key. Remember, that at a Council meeting, the Chairperson chairs all meetings at which they are present. In their absence, the remaining members elect one of their number to Chair the meeting.
Actioning Items and communicating with owners
The decisions of these meetings are formally recorded by the issuing of minutes of resolution. These minutes are required to be kept and form part of the records of the strata company. Some councils circulate the minutes to all owners to communicate progress for transparency.