The ABCs of Strata AGM Requirements in NSW: Everything You Need to Know

 Are you a member of a strata scheme in New South Wales? If so, understanding the requirements for your Annual General Meeting (AGM) is essential. The AGM is a significant event in the strata calendar, where important decisions are made and key information is shared amongst all stakeholders. In this comprehensive guide, we will walk you through the ABCs of strata AGM requirements in NSW, providing you with everything you need to know.  

From the legal obligations that govern AGMs to the necessary preparations and steps to follow, we'll cover it all. You'll learn about the timeline for holding an AGM, the notice requirements, the agenda items that need to be discussed, and the voting procedures. We'll also delve into how to deal with contentious issues, such as by-laws, budgets, and the election of Strata committee members.   By the end of this article, you'll have a clear understanding of all the requirements for a successful strata AGM in NSW. So, let's dive in and equip you with the knowledge you need to navigate the complexities of this important event.

Understanding strata schemes and their governance

Strata schemes are an increasingly popular form of property ownership in New South Wales, particularly in urban areas. They are a unique way of managing shared properties and allow individuals to own their unit or apartment while sharing ownership of common areas and facilities. These schemes are governed by strata laws and regulations, which outline the rights and responsibilities of owners, tenants, and the owners' corporation. The owners' corporation is responsible for the management and administration of the strata scheme. It is made up of all the owners within the scheme and is responsible for making decisions that affect the collective interests of the owners. The AGM is a crucial part of this decision-making process, providing an opportunity for owners to come together, discuss important matters, and vote on key issues.

What is an AGM and why is it important?

An Annual General Meeting (AGM) is a yearly gathering of owners within a strata scheme. It is a forum for discussing and deciding on important matters that affect the scheme and its residents.

The AGM serves several vital purposes, including:

1. Sharing information: The AGM provides a platform for the owners' corporation to update all stakeholders on the current state of the strata scheme. This includes sharing financial reports, maintenance plans, and any other relevant information.

2. Decision-making: The AGM is where important decisions are made. This can include approving the annual budget, electing members for the Strata Committee, and voting on any proposed by-laws or changes to existing by-laws.

3. Transparency and accountability: The AGM ensures that all owners have an opportunity to voice their concerns, ask questions, and hold the Strata committee accountable for their actions.

4. Building community: The AGM is also a chance for owners to connect with one another, fostering a sense of community within the strata scheme.  

Legal requirements for holding an AGM in NSW

In New South Wales, there are specific legal requirements that must be followed when holding an AGM for a strata scheme. These requirements aim to ensure transparency, fairness, and compliance with strata laws. Here are some key legal obligations:
1. Notice period: The notice period for an AGM must be at least 14 days plus postage before the scheduled date. The notice must be provided to all owners, including tenants and mortgagees.

2. Content of the notice: The notice must include the date, time, and location of the AGM, as well as the agenda items to be discussed. It should also include any proposed by-laws or motions that will require a vote.

3. Proxy voting: Owners who are unable to attend the AGM can appoint a proxy to vote on their behalf. The proxy must be a person who is entitled to vote at the meeting and must be appointed in writing.
4. Quorum requirements: A quorum is the minimum number of owners required for the AGM to proceed. In New South Wales, the quorum is usually set at 25% of the total number of lots and units of entitlement in the scheme. If there is no quorum present after 30 minutes, the Chairperson may open the meeting with those owners present. 5. Meeting minutes: Detailed minutes must be taken during the AGM, documenting all discussions, decisions, and votes. These minutes should be made available to all owners within a reasonable time after the meeting. By ensuring compliance with these legal requirements, strata schemes can conduct AGMs that are fair, transparent, and legally valid.  

Preparing for an AGM: Notice requirements and Agenda  

Proper preparation is key to a successful AGM. The notice period and content requirements mentioned earlier play a crucial role in informing owners about the upcoming meeting and the agenda items to be discussed. This allows owners to come prepared with any questions or concerns they may have.   The agenda for an AGM typically includes a range of items that need to be addressed.

Some common agenda items include:  

1. Confirmation of previous general meeting minutes: The minutes of the previous general meeting should be reviewed, discussed, and formally approved by the owners.

2. Financial reports: The AGM is an opportunity for owners to review and discuss the financial reports of the strata scheme. This includes the income and expenditure statement, balance sheet, and any outstanding debts or arrears.

3. Budget approval: The proposed budget for the upcoming financial year should be presented to the owners for approval. This includes estimates for maintenance and repairs, insurance premiums, and any other anticipated expenses.

4. Election of Strata Committee members: The AGM is where owners elect members to serve on the Strata committee. These committee members play a crucial role in the day-to-day management of the strata scheme.

5. By-laws and rule changes: Any proposed changes to the by-laws or rules of the strata scheme should be discussed and voted upon during the AGM.   It is important to ensure that the agenda is distributed to all owners well in advance of the AGM, allowing them sufficient time to review the items and seek clarification if needed. This helps facilitate an efficient and productive meeting.  

Conducting an AGM: Roles and responsibilities of key Stakeholders  

During an AGM, there are several key stakeholders who have specific roles and responsibilities. Understanding these roles can help ensure a smooth and effective meeting. Here are the main stakeholders involved:  

1. Chairperson: The chairperson is responsible for presiding over the AGM and maintaining order. They ensure that the agenda is followed, facilitate discussions, and manage the voting process.

2. Secretary: The secretary is responsible for preparing and distributing the notice of the AGM, as well as taking and maintaining accurate minutes of the meeting. They also assist with any administrative tasks related to the AGM.

3. Owners: All owners within the strata scheme have the right to attend the AGM, participate in discussions, and vote on matters. It is important for owners to familiarise themselves with the agenda items and come prepared to contribute constructively.

4. Strata Committee: The Strata Committee members, elected during the AGM, have a significant role in the management of the strata scheme. They are responsible for implementing decisions made during the AGM and overseeing the day-to-day operations of the scheme.  

By understanding and fulfilling their respective roles and responsibilities, these stakeholders can contribute to a productive and well-managed AGM.  

Voting procedures and decision-making at an AGM

Voting is an integral part of the AGM process, allowing owners to have a say in the decisions that affect their strata scheme. Understanding the voting procedures and decision-making process is essential for owners participating in the AGM. Here's an overview of how voting typically works:

  1. Quorum: As mentioned earlier, a quorum must be present for the AGM to proceed. This ensures that decisions are made with the participation of a significant number of owners.

2. Voting rights: Each owner has one vote, regardless of the number of lots they own. If an owner is unable to attend the AGM, they can appoint a proxy to vote on their behalf.

3. Show of hands: In most cases, voting is done by a show of hands. This allows for a quick and visible tally of votes. However, if requested by an owner, a poll vote may be conducted.

4. Simple majority: Most decisions at the AGM are made by a simple majority. This means that a simple majority (more than 50% of votes) passes the motion. In some cases, specific decisions may require a  special (no more than 25% of owners voting against a motion) or a unanimous resolution (no dissenting votes cast).  

It is important for owners to familiarize themselves with the voting procedures and any specific requirements for the decisions they will be voting on. This ensures that their votes are counted accurately and that decisions are made in accordance with the governing rules.  

Recording and documenting AGM proceedings  

Accurate recording and documentation of AGM proceedings are essential for transparency and accountability. The minutes of the AGM serve as an official record of discussions, decisions, and votes. Here are some key points to consider when recording and documenting AGM proceedings:  

1. Minutes format: The minutes should be clear, concise, and accurately reflect the discussions and decisions made during the AGM. They should include the date, time, and location of the meeting, as well as the names of attendees.

2. Detailed record: The minutes should provide a detailed record of each agenda item, including any amendments or objections raised, and the outcome of the vote.

3. Distribution of minutes: Once finalized, the minutes should be distributed to all owners within a reasonable time frame. This ensures that all owners have access to the information discussed and the decisions made.

4. Confidentiality and privacy: It is important to respect the confidentiality and privacy of individuals when documenting AGM proceedings.

Personal information should be handled in accordance with privacy laws. By maintaining accurate and comprehensive minutes, strata schemes can ensure transparency, accountability, and a clear historical record of decisions made during AGMs.  

Common challenges and pitfalls in organizing an AGM  

Organizing an AGM can be a complex task, and there are several common challenges and pitfalls to be aware of. Here are some issues that may arise and how to address them:

1. Lack of attendance: It can be challenging to achieve a quorum if owners do not attend the AGM. To encourage attendance, strata schemes can use various communication channels, such as emails, newsletters, and notice boards, to remind and update owners about the upcoming meeting.

2. Contentious issues: Certain agenda items, such as proposed by-laws or special levies, can be contentious and lead to heated discussions. It is essential to create a respectful and inclusive environment where all owners feel comfortable expressing their opinions.

3. Time management: AGMs can sometimes run longer than anticipated, leading to frustration and fatigue among attendees. Setting a clear agenda, sticking to the allocated time for each item, and having a firm chairperson can help manage time effectively.

4. Compliance with rules and regulations: Strata schemes must ensure compliance with all relevant laws, regulations, and by-laws when organizing an AGM. This includes providing proper notice, following voting procedures, and maintaining accurate records.  

By being proactive and addressing these challenges, strata schemes can navigate the complexities of organizing an AGM more effectively.  

Conclusion: Ensuring compliance and effective AGM management in NSW strata schemes  

In conclusion, understanding the requirements for a successful strata AGM in New South Wales is vital for all owners and stakeholders. By following the legal obligations, preparing adequately, conducting the meeting efficiently, and documenting the proceedings accurately, strata schemes can ensure compliance and effective AGM management.  

The AGM serves as a platform for decision-making, transparency, and community building within strata schemes. By actively participating in AGMs, owners can have a direct impact on the governance and management of their strata scheme.  

So, equip yourself with the knowledge and understanding you need to navigate the complexities of AGMs, and make the most out of this important event in the strata calendar. 

The Strata Collective

Level 9, 387 George St
Sydney, NSW 2000

Ph: 02 9137 2320

Strata Community Australia Member

Winner of the
SCA NSW Strata Community Awards 2020
Medium Category

Congratulations to The Strata Collective and Principal, Rod Smith for winning such a prestigious award.

See the full story and photos here.

© 2019 The Strata Collective