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Having your say

In 12 months of service, Lily Lane’s sole contribution to the committee group of Wentworthville strata owners that she helps represent has been to decide on an appropriate insurance provider.

And that’s just the way the Sydney-based professional likes it.

Drawn to purchase a strata property in a small complex solely because she could not afford to pay the huge prices demanded of a standalone home in the city, the 45-year-old found herself accidentally joining her strata committee after she attended her first meeting and her fellow nominees failed to attract the minimum numbers required for a quorum.

“The four who attended the last AGM all joined the committee, I only joined as they needed more people,” she says.

It is the strata committee’s responsibility to undertake the day-to-day running of the strata scheme, subject to the Strata Schemes Management Act. Committee members usually fulfil the duties of the committee on a voluntary basis, without expectation of fee or reward.

Lily said there are numerous advantages to joining your strata committee.

“It allows you to become more involved in the issues that you are most concerned about as well as the opportunity to ensure maintenance issues are maintained in a timely manner which can assist in increasing the value of your property.

“It really depends on how involved would-be committee members wish to be and how much time they want to put in. It’s also a great chance to meet your neighbours and see the way in which your levies are being spent.”

While the laws vary from state to state, any owner or their associated nominees are eligible for election to the strata committee.

Fair Trading New South Wales says the paramount duty of all Owners Corporations is to control, administer and manage the common property for the benefit of all owners, tenants and occupants at the scheme. The role of the committee is to ensure that the obligations of the Owners Corporation are fulfilled.

The Owners Corporation decides the number of Strata Committee members for the coming year at each annual general meeting. It can have from one to nine members, but in a two-lot scheme both owners must be members. A large scheme, which in NSW is determined as those with more than 100 lots, must have at least three members on its committee.

Once the Strata Committee is elected, the members of the committee decide who is to hold the office-bearer positions. The office-bearer positions are Chairperson, Secretary and Treasurer.

Lily said she was initially hesitant to join the group as she was scared of the time commitment involved.

However she was persuaded to join after learning her input was only required when a problem arose.

“We don’t hold committee meetings. If anyone on the committee notices a problem then we contact our strata manager to fix it. We haven’t had many decisions to make so far, all we had to do was decide which insurance we wanted.”

NSW laws that there are no legal requirements for how often strata committee meetings must be held and the secretary may convene a meeting of the Strata Committee at any time.

Any decision made by the committee is treated as a decision of the Owners Corporation although there are some matters that the committee cannot deal with, including levy contributions.

Lily believes you get what you put in when you join the strata committee, and it’s rewarding being able to have your say about the building complex.

“It’s not as daunting as I first thought and it’s certainly not difficult, stressful or too time consuming. It helps that we all get along, so spending time together as a committee when we need to make a decision is a pleasant experience.”

This is a real-life story. Name has been changed to protect her privacy.
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