Running an Owners Corporation is complex and time consuming. The starting point is to remember that Owners Corporations are statutory animals governed by the provisions of the Strata Schemes Management Act which has nearly 300 sections.
Day-to-day management is in the hands of members of a strata committee who are volunteers. The responsibilities undertaken by committees are enormous and on par with those of professional directors of companies. To get through the minefield of responsibilities, owners corporations engage the services of strata managers and in some cases depending on size of the Strata Scheme, also engage the services of building managers who arrange repairs and maintenance.
The size of the committee will depend on the size of the Strata Scheme. The purpose and of this article is to explore and explain the role and responsibilities of a chairperson, treasurer and secretary, which often are misunderstood.
This role is often misunderstood. The chairperson presides over meetings and ensures compliance with the relevant legislation, in this case the Strata Schemes Management Act 2015 and its statutory rules and is responsible to ensure meetings run smoothly. They are responsible to ensure there is a quorum and be knowledgeable of meeting procedures and ensure compliance with these. The chairperson also should ensure those attending a meeting remain focused on the matters set out in the agenda. A good chairperson will remain diplomatic, something that can be a challenge when they or some other person is under personal attack. Above all, they should perform their duties judicially and fairness.
Theoretically the treasurer’s role is more hands on and responsible than that of the chairperson. Why so you may ask? That role is like that of a chief financial officer of a company. Someone with accounting qualifications or experience in corporate financial management has an advantage. If one does not have that experience but volunteers for the position, they should glean a good working knowledge of accounts.
They will be expected to handle and manage all funds received and disbursed by the owners corporation and this includes the issuing levy and fee notices. Because of the nature of the role, this is a position of great trust.
In addition, that person should be able to handle numbers, lots of them, and have an eye for accuracy.
This is not all this person needs to understand budgets including never budgeting for a deficit.
In short, this person needs to be highly organised, disciplined and if one is lucky a numbers nurd.
They should expect to be queried by everyone. Again, it is imperative they are familiar with the statutory requirements. Their responsibilities remain whether these duties are delegated to a strata manager.
They need to prepare financial reports or at the very least read and understand them. These responsibilities are usually delegated to the strata manager.
I have left the best to last. A secretary holds the keys to the kingdom. Again, this role is time consuming, and needs be taken on by a person who is organised and can prioritise. They need to be able identify what is urgent and not. When attending meetings, they are obliged to prepare agendas and take minutes and if this task is delegated, they have a duty to check and ensure the accuracy of these documents.
They call all meetings and maintain an attendance list.
While all these other balls are in the air, they need to be abreast of all correspondence and communications coming and going and make sure all is attended to in timely manner.
And don’t forget maintaining the strata roll and enabling the inspection of books and records.
When evaluating the responsibilities and risks of being a chairperson, treasurer, and secretary and jumping in the deep end – thank whoever you believe in for the existence of the hired help….your strata manager… and if history is any indication of the future….you can continue to blame them even though the buck stops with the strata committee.