On 27 May 2020, we commented on the NSW Government’s response to providing the strata industry with relief arising from the COVID-19 pandemic. At the time, the NSW Government was empowered with ‘regulation making power’ to pass regulations that assists the strata industry deal with the COVID-19 pandemic.
Finally, on 05 June 2020, changes were made to the Strata Schemes Management Regulation 2016 (NSW) (the Regulations) to provide some temporary relief to the strata industry. This means that changes to the Regulations are in effect now.
The main changes to the Regulations are summarised below.
Service of documents through email
The service of documents relating to a strata meeting (presumably a General Meeting or a Strata Committee meeting) can now be done through email. This means that a Notice of a General Meeting or any other documents relating to a General Meeting can now be served on a lot owner through email as opposed to post.
However, Strata Managers or an authorised representative of the Owners Corporation must ensure that they write to all lot owners, requesting a nominated email address for the purposes of serving notices to that lot owner (if they haven’t already).
Voting at a General Meeting of the Owners Corporation
Voting at General Meetings do not have be cast ‘in person’. The Regulations now provide that lot owners can cast their vote in a way that is specified in clause 14 of the Regulations.
That is, votes may now be cast through:
- Telephone, video conferencing, email or other electronic means during a General Meeting or a Strata Committee meeting
- Email or other electronic means prior to the meeting. This is known as pre-meeting electronic voting.
Prior to the amendment to the Regulations, the Owners Corporation could only exercise its right to vote through electronic means if a special resolution had been passed. The amendments to the Regulations now mean that a special resolution is not required to permit voting through electronic means.
However, prior to relying on this section, it is important that the strata managing agent or secretary, takes all reasonable steps to ensure that each lot owner can participate in the meeting and exercise their vote through electronic means.
The Regulations expressly exclude pre meeting electronic voting for an election of the Strata Committee.
Affixing the seal of the Owners Corporation
The amendments allow an alternative way to ‘affix the seal of the Owners Corporation’ to contracts, instruments, or other documents. If the seal is not readily available, the following process will be considered as a valid alternative:
- The instrument or document is signed in the presence of a witness;
- The date of the signature and the date that the signature was witnessed;
- The name of each signatory and witness; and
- The relationship of the signatory and the witness to the owners corporation.
Affixing the seal of the Owners Corporation can now be witnessed through ‘audio visual link’. Likewise, a witness is not required in circumstances where a strata manager or an officer of the Owners Corporation affixes the seal on a document.
If the seal is witnessed through audio visual link, the technology used must allow for both visual communication and audio communication.
The time period for the first AGM of the Owners Corporation
The first Annual General Meeting for an Owners Corporation can now be conducted 6 months after the ‘initial period’. Prior to the amendments, the time period was 2 months.
This flexibility is relevant to an Owners Corporations that has been newly formed.
So, what now?
An Owners Corporation can now rely on the newly amended Regulations until 13 November 2020 or any later date specified in the Regulations.
However, Managing Agents or Strata Committees must ensure that extra steps are taken to ensure that the new flexibilities have been exercised properly and in accordance with the Regulations.
For assistance or advice relating to the new Regulations, contact Mariam Chalak on 0410 914 128 for a no obligation chat.
If you would rather get in contact through email, send your questions through to Mariam at firstname.lastname@example.org