When you buy into a strata title property like a unit or townhouse, becoming a part of a body corporate is probably way down on the list of items you consider. And while every unit owner is automatically a member with the right to vote at the AGM each year, often there is a reluctance to become part of the elected committee.
One of the most daunting factors for many is the time involved and the processes that need to be followed, so here’s a lowdown on what committees do, how they work and ways to make the running of a strata community smoother.
The body corporate
The role of the body corporate is to look after common property assets and to undertake actions required by legislation. The Queensland Government notes that extends to:
- maintaining, managing and controlling the common property on behalf of owners
- deciding the amounts to be paid by the owners to make sure the body corporate can operate.
- making and enforcing its own rules, called by-laws, which clarify to owners and residents what they can and cannot do.
- taking out insurance on behalf of owners, such as public risk insurance over the common property and building insurance.
- managing and controlling body corporate assets.
- keeping records for the body corporate, including minutes of meetings, roll of owner’s details, financial accounts, and registers of assets, improvements to common property by owners, engagements and authorisations.
To meet their responsibilities the body corporate each year elects a committee, who will act on their behalf. This group of people is elected at an annual general meeting and responsible for the administration of the building. The committee usually comprises between three and seven members, depending on how many lots the property has.
The committee must comprise a chairperson, secretary and treasurer, and one person can fill each of those positions if necessary.
The committee is in charge of:
- the administrative day-to-day running of the body corporate.
- making certain decisions on behalf of the body corporate such as approvals, minor improvements and expenditure within the boundaries of their authority.
- putting the lawful decisions of the body corporate into place.
A body corporate must call an annual general meeting each year. This involves approving two budgets for the running of the property:
- An administrative fund budget – for the day to running of the property including electricity charges, grounds keeping, and insurance.
- A sinking fund budget – for future maintenance expenses such as lift or pool refurbishment, building repainting, roof repairs or replacement, and the replacement of major equipment.
Other items on the agenda include:
- Electing a new committee
- Voting on proposed budgets and levy periods
- Insurance renewal
- Any other motions submitted by the owners.
Extraordinary general meetings can also be held throughout the year to deal with any urgent matters that can’t wait until the next AGM.
Day to day
When it comes to the day to day running of a building, some body corporate committees are very hands-on, taking care of maintenance and calling in individual tradespeople when required. Meanwhile, others are more distant, utilising a manager or management company to help handle maintenance and upkeep tasks.
How much time is involved in being on the committee largely depends on the processes established and the experience and knowledge of the members.
Over the years as body corporate managers, we’ve worked with a lot of body corporate committees and seen a number of different approaches – some which work well, seem which don’t. This varies depending on the size and complexity of the property, and also the number of committee members, their level of expertise and availability, as well as the approach of individual members.