One of the major administrative issues arising as a result of COVID-19, and the mandatory restrictions imposed on gatherings, has been the convening of strata committee meetings and general meetings. These meetings are required to enable Strata Schemes to legally raise levies so they may continue to meet financial commitments, such as the payment of service contractors for common property maintenance, undertaking repairs and renewing insurances.
The issue of notices to convene meetings, social distancing requirements and a ban on group gatherings has had a significant effect on the convening of general meetings. This has been addressed where possible through the use electronic communications such as emails for the issue of meeting notices and teleconferencing and ‘Zoom’ video conferencing to hold meetings.
Unfortunately, when the 2015 Act was adopted it required an Owners Corporation to pass a resolution at a general meeting to permit the adoption of electronic voting. While most of our strata clients have passed such a resolution, there are also a number who have not adopted electronic meetings as they wanted to continue to meet face-to-face.
As soon as the problem of COVID-19 became evident the Real Estate Institute of NSW (REINSW) raised the problem with the Regulator. After nearly 2 months of delay, this resulted in temporary Legislation being passed at a special sitting of state Parliament on Tuesday 12th May, 2020 whereby the Minister has been delegated the authority to assent to Regulations which temporarily override the current Act for the purpose of issuing strata committee and general meeting notices electronically and enable meetings to be held by any form of electronic means.
Following several consultations with the Regulator, the Regulations have been drafted and the Regulator confirmed on Thursday 21st May, 2020 that the necessary Regulations permitting legal strata committee and general meetings to be notified and convened by electronic means will be granted assent to commence operation from the first week of June, 2020. The temporary regulations permit:
Notices of meetings of a strata committee, Owners Corporation or community association to be served electronically even where there is presently no right to do so as a resolution has not been previously passed at a general meeting to conduct meetings by electronic means;
Votes to be cast at meetings of a strata committee, Owners Corporation or community association electronically even if electronic voting has not been approved;
The seal of an Owners Corporation or community association to be affixed to documents, and the witnessing of the affixing of the seal to be conducted, remotely;
An extension of a time period in which a thing is required to be done under strata or community title laws.
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The information contained in this article is intended as general information and not advice as each individual’s situation will vary depending upon the specific circumstances relating to that individual, entity or strata or community scheme. You should seek professional legal, accounting, financial and taxation advice as it relates to your personal circumstances.