Submitting a motion to be voted on by an owners corporation is usually a straightforward affair.
It normally involves providing the motion to the strata manager and then waiting for the AGM to roll around. This simple process starts to become difficult, though, when one or more of the following issues is relevant:
- the strata manager does not like you; or
- the chairman or the committee does not like you, your business, your intention to sell the management rights, or anything else that apparently justifies irrational behaviour.
In these circumstances it is important that you ensure you submit your motion correctly. For AGMs this usually means submitting your motion before the end of the current financial year for the owners corporation. For an EGM there is no fixed date by which you must submit your motion, other than in a reasonable time before the meeting’s agenda is required to go out, which is relevant to the date the meeting is to be held. This date should be provided to you by the strata manager upon request.
So what do you do if you miss the boat on an AGM and there are no EGMs on the horizon; how do you force the owners corporation to call an EGM?
In New South Wales and Queensland the process is essentially the same. To requisition an EGM you must provide notice, to the secretary (or the strata manager, who is obligated to pass it on), that you request an EGM be held to decide a motion that you have outlined in the notice. The notice must include the signatures of at least 25 per cent of the owners in the scheme in support of calling the EGM for this reason. This can be the signature of one person who owns 25 per cent of the aggregate unit entitlement of the scheme, or the signatures of a number of owners who together own 25 per cent or more. A signature will only count if the person signing is on the strata roll and they have paid up-to-date all levies payable to the owners corporation.
If the number of signatures is below 25 per cent, the secretary is not required to call an EGM and your motion may be held until the next EGM or AGM is called. Unless the motion is for a contentious issue that is causing tension amongst owners it is likely that most owners corporations will call an EGM whenever requested, regardless of the number of signatures. This is especially true if you agree to pay the strata manager’s fee for calling the meeting.
If you have at least 25 per cent of the owners’ signatures, in New South Wales the secretary must then call the EGM “as soon as practicable”, whereas in Queensland the secretary must give notice of the meeting to owners within 14 days of receiving the request and must hold the meeting within six weeks. As the minimum notice period for an EGM in New South Wales is approximately two weeks (it varies due to public holidays), “as soon as practicable” will depend on how quickly a meeting location can be organised and notices prepared. It would be unlikely that a period longer than six weeks would be considered “as soon as practicable”.
As you can see, if you do not collect the signatures of at least 25 per cent of the owners in your scheme you cannot force the owners corporation to hold an EGM and you may have to wait until the next AGM is held, to decide your motion.
Be sure to remember this if you have an urgent matter that you need decided at a general meeting of the owners corporation.