You may be aware that I have been doing a series of articles about annual general meetings (AGM), with the first part clarifying the basics of process and timeframes and the second part providing some meeting tips.
This third part continues on from my part two article, providing more tips around the AGM.
As was the case with the previous articles in this series, this is general information only and particularly when it comes to the “tips”, it is not legal advice. Remember also that each situation and scheme is different, which is why neither I nor my office can provide an immediate or definitive “ruling”.
Hopefully, the tips will provide guidance to address several common occurrences.
If a lot owner is not “financial” – that is, if they owe a body corporate debt – then they may not be entitled to vote at the AGM.
Remember that even an apparent debt of literally just a few dollars may be sufficient to render an owner not financial and may include not only arrears on body corporate levies, but things such as interest and penalties.
Sometimes an owner may assume that they are financial when in fact there is an amount they have overlooked. It is therefore important for an owner to not assume their financial status and to make necessary enquiries if they are in any doubt.
An owner who becomes aware of their non-financial status with the AGM approaching should consider what they can do to address the situation. It may be as simple as the owner realising they are behind on payments and making these up.
It may also be the case that an owner disputes the apparent debt. In this case, an owner may wish to consider if they are better served paying the apparent debt to ensure they get to cast a vote, then considering disputing the debt after the meeting.
Issues around apparent body corporate debts are, naturally, sensitive matters for an owner and each owner would have to carefully weigh up their ability to participate in an AGM versus any dispute about a debt.
Do your research, get your own quotes
As I noted earlier in this series, the AGM agenda will contain motions seeking a body corporate decision on expenditure, for example, on an insurance premium or related to appointing a body corporate manager. To enable the body corporate to cast an informed vote, these agenda items would be accompanied by quotes.
While these agenda items might be put forward by the committee, there is nothing stopping an owner from doing their own research and putting forward their own quotes.
For example, if an owner prefers the proposal of a body corporate manager different to the one that has been in place and which is subject to motion at the AGM, the owner can submit a motion that their preference (and their quote) be considered.
Additionally, if an owner is putting forward a motion seeking maintenance or repairs be done, then the onus is on the owner to have done their research and obtained a quote (or multiple quotes depending upon the issue).
Providing quotes with a motion is part and parcel of providing sufficient details so that all owners can make an informed decision. It is in an owner’s best interest to do so if they are submitting a motion – if you want people to vote for your proposal, then give them a sound basis on which to do so.
Remember the “commit” part of “committee”
A literal definition of “committee” is “one who commits”.
It is important to bear this in mind when an owner nominates themselves at an AGM for a body corporate committee role.
Both from a legislative and a common sense perspective, it is expected that someone who nominates for such a role is ready, willing and able to carry it out.
That means being able to attend meetings, vote outside of committee meetings and engage with other entities (such as other owners) as necessary on body corporate business.
Committees have a legislated role and responsibility to act reasonably so a decision to nominate for a committee role should not be taken lightly as a result.
Remembering the literal definition above, an owner nominating for a committee role should be ready to “commit”.
If you think you can do a better job – put your hand up
Following on from the previous tip, it is essential to remember also that being on a committee and nominating at an AGM for a committee role is voluntary.
There may be many good reasons why an owner cannot or does not nominate for a committee role and there may be some owners who, due to their personal circumstances, might never be able to take on any committee responsibility.
This is quite different to a situation where an owner does have capacity to nominate at the AGM for a committee role but prefers to observe and be critical from the sidelines.
Remember, these tips are guidance only. Legal or other professional advice may be required depending on the circumstances. For general body corporate information, contact my office on 1800 060 119 or www.qld.gov.au/bodycorporate.
Author: Commissioner Chris Irons