The STMA has been around for a couple of years now and most Trustees and Managers have got a handle on how it is supposed to work. But this is an Act with basic major faults that needs to be corrected urgently.
1. The limitation of Proxies to two per person is simply unworkable and illogical. I have never understood why it was introduced in the first place. If it was because the writers of the act had received complaints of people “Proxy Collecting” then their solution was woefully incorrect. Personally, I don’t have a problem with concerned owners collecting proxies. I as an owner of a sectional title unit should be free to give my proxy to whom I felt represented my best interests. If I did not like the outcome, I would give my proxy elsewhere next time. All the current situation achieves is, combined with the increase in quorum for larger units, is the dramatic reduction in the number of meetings that can be held on the date set in the Agenda. Unless a quorum is met, the meeting is automatically held over to the same time and place the following week. Only that causes even more problems that it was intended to solve.
a. That other meetings are set to the postponed date and time – thus this postponed meeting is likely to be sidelined with reduced staff presence and facilities
b. That it is punishing those members who did attend the first meeting by either forcing them to return the following week or to miss out on the meeting if cannot. Here I have personally travelled over 750 km to and back from a postponed meeting and being faced with the choice of doing it all again the following week or not.
c. That only two people need to attend the following weeks meeting to form a quorum. Clearly very unsatisfactory and increasing any problem that the Acts writers may have seen. In one of our buildings just two people attending the postponed meeting could be representing nearly 800 members! Allowing for one person to hold any number of proxies, freely given by the members, would allow for a far higher percentage of meetings to proceed at the proper time and place.
2. The use of the PQ in determining attendance and voting. This can be simple in a small building but when dealing with schemes of 100 units and more – and many are close to 1000 units and more (maximum 15,000 in one building in the Cape), but an absolute nightmare in big buildings. What is needed is a return to the far simpler, easier to manage, and quicker 1 vote per unit situation.
It is obvious that there was at some stage unhappiness that smaller units had the same voting and attendance power that big units had. I give the example of a supermarket at the bottom of a building compared to a bachelor flat in the building. But the reality is that it was never a problem in the first place. In over 40 years of handling body corporate meetings, I have never been asked for a vote by PQ. If however, any owner of a large unit wanted the vote to take place on this basis the STA has always state that it was a simple exercise to ask for one.
The original way of voting, which was effective and efficient should be reinstated immediately.
3. Unrepentant members and Trustees still have a vote. It is unbelievable to me that any member or Trustee who is in substantial arrears on his or her levy still has a vote. Currently the act says that the owner/trustee must have a judgement against them before they lose their vote. But it is the Trustee who is in arrears that votes on whether or not owners in arrears should be handed over or not. Apart from the cost and time involved in following this process, it is unreasonable that a Trustee in arrears should be the judge of whether or not other owners are in arrears should be taken to task or not. Firstly this process should be automated, for example the body corporate should be forced to take action against any owner more than two months in arrears with their levies, but certainly no Trustee should be allowed to continue in his position if his levy in not currently up to date (at least to the extent that they are not more than two months in arrears).
Mike Spencer is a consultant for Body Corporates nationally and a consultant for developers of sectional title type projects internationally and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org