In light of recent changes to NSW Strata legislation, it’s time to review your Strata Committee Code of Conduct.

Conduct such as bullying, intimidation or other abusive behaviours are never ok. Unfortunately, strata living can create a situation where this behaviour emerges.

The revised strata laws now make it easier to remove a strata committee member. So it is timely to look at how to navigate and manage these situations and avoid becoming a dysfunctional strata committee.

Bullying

Bullying can occur anywhere that people live or work together. Unfortunately, strata and community living can create an ideal situation for a bully to thrive, especially if they find their way onto their executive committee.

If you serve on an executive committee, where someone has reported an incidence of bullying, it must be taken seriously. Bullying creates a risk for the health and safety of the person or group of people it’s affecting.

As a committee member you may also be held personally liable if you are aware of certain behaviour but did nothing to address the issue.

Here are some approaches that strata committee members can try and the legal options available.

Responding To Abusive Behaviour Or Emails

Harassment and intimidation is never ok. This behaviour is beyond the scope of the Strata Schemes Management Act 2015 and regulations.

In the first instance, if the issue is between two strata committee members, try discussing the issue one on one, or with an independent fellow committee member who can act as a go-between for the conversation.

If the issue remains unresolved, it is recommended that a strata committee charter be adopted at your next AGM.

Removing A Committee Member

The new legislation clarifies nomination procedures:

Note: The Strata Legislation Amendment Bill 2023 (page 15) covers this in more detail.

Sometimes an individual serving on a committee is disruptive, abusive or counter-productive, leading to a decision to remove them from the committee.

In the event that a committee member should be removed from the committee:

  1. An owners corporation may, by ordinary resolution at a general meeting, remove a member of the strata committee from office (eliminating the special resolution previously required by the owners corporation).
  2. The former strata committee member, once removed from office cannot be a member again for 12 months.

McCormacks would recommend that this process be entered into cautiously, taking time to consider and discuss legal strategy and advice, and conduct due diligence to set it up properly.

This is for both the reputation of the strata scheme and harmony amongst the owners and strata committee members, but also to avoid having the member in question referring the issue to NCAT.

It is important to gather facts, through minutes over the course of your strata committee meetings, the behaviour of the member in question.

This will enable you to rally support from owners (who may view the minutes) who can understand the issues and will be more likely not to vote this individual onto the committee again.

You will also need a contingency plan to fill the position made vacant by the member removed.

Here is the law: Sect 35 – Vacation of office of elected member of a strata committee

A proactive approach to a better ‘strata culture’

While strata committees are comprised of diverse personalities who are volunteering their time, it is crucial to have a high functioning committee who are prepared to work towards good decisions for their scheme and property.

Here are our recommendations:

  1. Put in place a Strata Committee Charter to deal with the conduct of the Strata Committee level.
  2. Create a high level 1-2 page document outlining what the strata manager and strata committee are responsible for. This will ensure that everyone is clear on the role of each.
  3. Try broadening the membership through gaining interested by other owners to join the strata committee. Focusing the conversation towards increasing owner participation generally improves strata communities.
  4. Focus on the building and community common good by taking a step back from the personal and engaging with the owners and residents.
  5. Listen to feedback and be prepared to change course if need be.

Contact the team at McCormacks for professional and trusted advisory, by strata managers who are across current legislation.