By Nicole Wilde

21 June 2017

“We have always done it this way” is no longer good enough.

“I have held this position for over a decade, why change now?” is no longer an effective election campaign slogan.

“We will silence all who resists our views, regardless of whether their point is valid” has always been a near-sighted position.

In the context of your own life, you may be entitled to adopt the above philosophies. But if you hold elected office as a Committee Member of an Owners Corporation, then your actions will likely affect the proprietary and financial interests of your fellow owners.

Education about the democratic procedures Owners Corporations have to follow in order to make important decisions is slowly awakening the masses of apartment owners in Victoria.

What do they see when they wake?

  • Are they met with resistance when they try and exercise their legal right under s.146 of the Owners Corporations Act 2006 to inspect the Owners Corporation’s records at any reasonable time, free of charge?
  • If a records inspection is facilitated, are there restrictions on what can be inspected?
  • If they ask for a physical copy of a record (subject to agreement to pay payment of a reasonable fee) is the request refused? Are they prohibited from taking electronic copies without explanation?
  • Do they know who is eligible to convene a general meeting of all owners?
  • If a general meeting is validly convened, are they met with resistance from office holders or service contractors who feel at risk of disruption to the status quo? If so, do they ask what are the motivations behind such resistance? Are the motivations evident from the Owners Corporation’s records?
  • Does a solicitor engaged by a service contractor attend the general meeting as a ‘proxy’ for an individual lot owner and despite holding two positions (1) as solicitor for the service contractor, and (2) as the proxy for the individual lot owner, purport to be at the meeting “in the interests of the Owners Corporation and all lot owners”?
  • At a general meeting, is an owner’s legal entitlement to call for a vote to be conducted by written poll based, resisted or quashed on the basis that “it will take too long”?
  • Are the meeting minutes correct and transparent? If a new Committee is elected, do service contractors act in accordance with validly made directives of the new Committee or is there unfounded resistance?
  • Do the financial records of your Owners Corporation indicate any discrepancies?
  • Do the records of the Owners Corporation’s decision making indicate that decision making has not complied with the requirements of the Owners Corporations Act 2006?

To persistence, transparency and accountability, and to all those who strive for compliance, your efforts are starting to have a real effect on improving the operation of Owners Corporations across Victoria – well done.

At Tisher Liner FC Law we believe Owners Corporations want to maintain peaceful, functional living environments for owners.

We focus on value by: Providing easy to understand legal advice; Focussing on practical outcomes; Educating about the intertwined legal relationships in Owners Corporations; Enabling Owners Corporations to eliminate hostility and minimise future legal disputes.

Tisher Liner FC Law has a specialist Owners Corporation legal division dedicated to providing practical expert advice to Owners Corporations in Melbourne. If your Owners Corporation wants to clarify its legal obligations or requires effective legal representation please contact Nicole Wilde.

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