Abusive strata committee member

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Forums The committee Abusive strata committee member

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  • #321700
    Homia
    Member

    In the strata committee, there is a member who is very verbal in his complaints and can also write numerous nasty emails to the strata/building manager/owners when he does not get his way. This has resulted in the strata/building manager being fearful of him. His verbal complaints and emails have even resulted in staff working at the strata/building companies servicing the owner’s corporation complaining about him and requesting reassignment. So far, no formal complaints have been made yet but there is an increasing possibility of legal action being undertaken against the owner’s corporation and the possibility that no company would want to service the owner’s corporation with the abusive strata committee member.

    If any legal letter is issued against the member, is the owner’s corporation legally obligated to cover the member’s fees and compensation though the building insurance which has legal indemnity coverage? What can be done to minimise the damage done to the abusive owner?

    TIA

    #332397
    Strata Committee
    Member

    Hi Homia,
    we empathise with your experience as we also suffered with similar behaviour. Although this reply does not answer your questions directly, we hope it offers some encouragement.
    In our case we had a committee of three who for 4.5 years were quick to threaten residents and a complicit strata manager who encouraged their behaviour because he could charge additional fees.
    The outcome was a community of people living in fear.
    After 4.5 years, most owners decided enough was enough!
    The steps we took were:

    1. Learn what our rights are under the SSM Act & SSM Regulations
    2. Attend City of Sydney Strata 101 seminars
    3. Joint YSP
    4. Listen to YSP podcasts
    5. Listen to Flat-Chat podcasts
    6. Join Owners Corporation Network
    7. Get advice from qualified professionals
    8. Get advice from others who have travelled a similar path
    9. Map out a strategy

    Then we gathered all our evidence to support our ‘case for change’ and discussed it with as many owners as possible.
    We then held a GM & removed the committee via special resolution. We were not waiting for an AGM.
    The new committee removed much of the delegated authorities from the strata management agency.
    Started the process of self managing including monitoring our finances, running our own SC meetings, communicating with all owners (including the disgruntled former SC), maintaining our professionalism and starting the major work of asset maintenance, long neglected by the former two parties.

    During this time, the former SC continued to send abusive & threatening emails to the committee and most other owners.

    This went on for 8 months. In that time the committee rarely engaged with the abuse or the abusers. A very professional and pragmatic approach was agreed to and applied to all correspondence.
    For example:

    1. Never reply to abuse.
    2. If a reply is required, allow 24-48 hours for thinking.
    3. Workshop the reply with the committee.
    4. If necessary, seek professional advice.

    We now have a new SM Agency in place.
    The threats issued by the former SC resulted in one of them suing the OC which resulted in him withdrawing his NCAT application for lack of evidence.
    The other former SC member sold (at a significant loss).
    And the final former SC member has to appear in court and defend an AVO – he allegedly abused an owner on common property and the incident was witnessed & police were involved.

    Was all the effort, tears & heartache worth it?
    If good people make a stand and keep standing they can reclaim their community.
    Yes, it is worth it!

    #348920
    Homia
    Member

    Thanks for your comment. Your story is an inspiration to all.

    #375402
    Amanda Farmer
    Expert

    Thank you for starting this conversation Homia and – Strata Committee: thank YOU so much for sharing your story.

    Reclaim your community indeed! Every single item Strata Committee has listed is so important to achieving that end and is exactly the guidance I want to give you, Homia.

    I am also so glad that Strata Committee also included the acknowledgment that this took effort, tears and heartache. But it was all worth it.

    In my view, exposing this person’s behaviour  for what it is and ensuring they do not get re-elected to the committee at the next AGM is going to be the most practical approach in Homia’s situation. Explaining to owners that this person’s behaviour leaves the Owners Corporation vulnerable to legal claims should help owners make the right decision.

    Our NSW legislation protects a committee member acting “in good faith” from personal liability. If the majority of the committee is making very clear (ie: in writing) that they do not support the actions of this committee member; that this person is acting without the committee’s approval or authority; that this person is acting outside of their role as committee member, that should go some way to protecting the Owners Corporation. Even better, propose a motion and resolve in a formally convened meeting to invite the recalcitrant to resign. If the person won’t resign, resolve to propose a motion at the next general meeting that the person be removed from their position by special resolution (section 35(1)(e)). Even if that cannot be achieved, what you are doing is laying the “paper trail” : recording that this person has “gone rogue” and the remaining committee members have done all they can to protect the Owners Corporation.

    It’s difficult to say whether the Owners Corporation’s office bearer’s liability insurance policy would protect this person if sued: it really depends on what they are being be sued for. If the committee wants the best chance of avoiding this, it is very important to keep the clearest possible written record that this person is acting completely outside their role of committee member and their abusive behaviour does not have the support of the committee.

    Amanda.

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