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Keeping Strata Community "Online" as Restrictions Tighten

As it becomes more and more obvious that the COVID-19 pandemic will require a long term strategy, it’s crucial that strata communities are thinking about how they can get through this period.

The one constant of this pandemic has been disruption, with many changes to our everyday lives. The team at Ace wants to ensure disruption doesn’t lead to disfunction in your community.

AGMs are the hub of strata community decision-making and it’s important this this yearly event not be completely thrown out of the calendars of strata property owners and communities nationwide.

With the focus firmly on avoiding large groupings of people, in favour of self-isolating, strata communities may need to rethink community meetings in the short term.

To use pandemic terminology, AGMs are ‘essential’ business in the strata community and where possible, we must innovate to keep these meetings ‘online’.

Ace has over 130 body corporate territories nationwide, managing over 65,000 lots and we’ve pulled some insights from our national team to help make sure your community can keep your AGM date during the coronavirus pandemic.

Below is a step by step guide put together with the help of our strata managers to help you and your community.

Option 1: Make your meetings accessible via video & teleconferencing

In the past the biggest barrier for general meeting participation has been ‘time-poor’ owners and community members; but this is no longer the case. The pandemic’s economic impact means that the majority of the working population is at home, with some time on their hands to participate.

If your community decides that it wants to use video/teleconferencing facilities to run your AGM, we recommend considering the following;

  • Gauge your community’s ability and willingness to participate in video/teleconferencing
  • Provide tips and brief tutorials for how community members join and use these remote conferencing facilities
  • Do your research and find out if any costs are involved in setting up and paying for remote conferencing facilities

Option 2: Vote outside of the meeting

Another option on the table for communities hoping to keep their AGM date this year will be to facilitate voting outside of the meeting. Many of us has submitted postal votes before for local, state/territory or federal elections – and this is even easier. Either via email, phone or letter, community members can still participate in AGMs.

The body corporate community has been set up to manage ‘remote’ relationships with interstate and foreign property investors for years, so communities do not need to re-invent the wheel.

Option 3: appoint a proxy to carry your vote at the next meeting

In the event that it’s decided that your community meeting will go ahead, with limited face-to-face attendees, an owner can delegate their voting rights to another person, who becomes their proxy.

This will be a novel way for communities unable or unwilling to pursue options 1 & 2 to adhere to social distancing measures. An owner can make any person their proxy, including their tenant. Proxies must be given to the Secretary before or at the meeting. For large schemes, the proxy must be given to the Secretary at least 24 hours before the scheduled meeting.

Can’t take your meetings online?

All hope is not lost if the above options are not suitable for your strata community.

  • Bodies corporate, particularly in larger schemes, can consider deferring calling general meetings unless there is urgent or essential business to consider.
  • Bodies corporate are able to seek approval from an adjudicator for annual general meetings to be held outside the legislative timeframe, and this may be an option to consider. Please check your state or territory authority’s website for more details.

Still need advice?

If you wish to discuss any strata community coronavirus concerns further with an Ace Body Corporate manager, please do not hesitate to contact us via our website or undertake your own research on this matter. Please use the links above in the Education section to access up to date health authority information.

Ace Body Corporate Management
Disclaimer: This is not advice and should only be referred to for general information purposes. Strata management contracts often vary, so we recommend you contact your local Ace manager for more information, or seek expert legal advice. This article is not intended to be personal advice and you should not rely on it as a substitute for any form of advice.Ace Body Corporate Management offers this newsletter to clients to assist in updating them on company and industry news. The content within this newsletter is of a generic nature and may not be applicable to all owners corporations. Ace Body Corporate Management attempts to provide the most up-to-date and accurate information for our clients, however we strongly recommend that individuals and committees seek further advice before acting on any information in this newsletter.