Have you been told?

Does any of this sound familiar? There are 30 owners in the owners corporation but only four at the owners corporation meetings.

There are 40 opinions on how to resolve an issue but only five votes on the motion. Are owners not realising there is a meeting on or is apathy the leading political party in every owners corporation?

Voting at owners corporation meetings is seen as a chore for most, a hobby for some and a passion for the few. For many people, the right to vote at an owners corporation meeting is more important than actually voting and legislation and case law tends to agree with this view. There are a variety of rules that dictate how an owners corporation meeting may be conducted and how owners may vote at meetings, yet many people may not realise that one of the most important rules is ensuring that owners are correctly notified about the meeting in first place. If owners do not receive a valid notice calling a general meeting of the owners corporation then, regardless of the number of people that turn up to the meeting, every motion passed could be ruled invalid if it is later challenged.

In New South Wales the legislation states that at least seven days’ notice must be given before a general meeting may be held. This does not mean you put the agenda in the mail and eight days later you hold the meeting. It means you put the agenda in the mail, you allow long enough for it to be delivered, then wait a further eight days to hold your meeting.

How much time you must allow was discussed in detail in The Owners – Strata Plan No 62022 v Sahade [2013] NSWSC 2002 (30 December 2013). In most circumstances, following the ruling set by this case, it will mean the earliest you can call a general meeting in New South Wales is 14 days after you have posted the agenda to owners.

Here is a step-by-step guide to how you calculate the earliest you can call a general meeting in New South Wales:

1. Start with the date you will place the notice in the mail, eg 24 July 2014;
2. Allow four business days for notice to be delivered or deemed served, therefore not counting weekends or public holidays, eg 30 July 2014;
3. Allow seven days notice period as required by legislation, counting weekends and public holidays, eg 6 August 2014;
4. The following date is the earliest your meeting can be held, eg 7 August 2014 onwards.

In Queensland the legislation states that a general meeting must be held at least 21 days after notice is given to owners. Applying the same principles that were applied in the Sahade case above means that notices in Queensland will generally need to be posted at least 28 days prior to the date the meeting is to be held.

In simple terms what does this mean for you?

If your motion was passed at a general meeting that did not have a sufficient notice period, there is a chance that it may be ruled invalid and you will need to have your motion passed again at a new meeting. Alternatively, if you are looking for a miracle solution to overcome a resolution of the owners corporation, an insufficient notice period might be the chink in the armour you are looking for.

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