|Congratulations to the Bauhaus Apartments, Pyrmont and Gordon Streight who is its chairperson. Bauhaus is one of the first apartment buildings in Australia to receive a NABERS rating. NABERS is a national rating system that measures the environment performance of Australian buildings, tenancies and homes.
I am proud and honoured that Strata Central manages the Bauhaus Apartments and the icing on the cake was Gordon inviting me to join him when Lord Mayor Clover Moore presented Bauhaus Apartments with one of 10 Inaugural Building Awards at the recent NABERS for Apartment Buildings launch on 5 June 2018.
The Bauhaus Apartments has been active in improving building management, performance and sustainability and reducing energy & water consumption for many years.
Gordon has noted the following:
The Bauhaus introduced a Recycle Depot into the building to capture electronic waste (computers, printers, laptops and other electronic products), batteries and clothing – and divert them from landfill to a recoverable resource. These activities have been actively supported by residents and owners, requiring ever more frequent emptying of the collection bins.
Even more recent initiatives to reduce energy consumption consisted of a building-wide lighting upgrade which saw a 35% reduction in overall electricity use in the common property. Further reductions in energy consumption are on the drawing board for the carpark exhaust system, air conditioning system and major plant renewal & upgrade
Gordon is an active participant on the City of Sydney’s Residential Apartments Sustainability Reference Group. His innovative and hard work paid off when his efforts were recognised by the NABERS team at the NSW Office of Environment & Heritage, and Gordon was invited to participate in the NABERS for Apartment Building Stakeholder Engagement Workshops as this new building efficiency rating tool was being developed.
You may like to read more about the initiatives discussed here on Gordon’s website – Strata-Worx.
Please accept our apology two errors appeared in the May edition. We incorrectly paraphrased the definitions of “initial period” and “special resolution” the corrected definitions appear below: –
Section 4. “initial period” of an owners corporation of a strata scheme means the period:
(a) commencing on the day the owners corporation is constituted, and
(b) ending on the day there are owners of lots in the strata scheme (other than the original owner) the sum of whose unit entitlements is at least one-third of the aggregate unit entitlement.
Section 5. A resolution is “special resolution” if:
(a) it is passed at a properly convened general meeting, and
(b) not more than 25% of the value of votes cast are against the resolution.
As part of our series on meetings we thought we would enter the realm of proxies. According to the Oxford English Dictionary a proxy means “the authority to represent someone else, especially in voting.”
There are many reasons people seek proxies (harvest them) and why people give them. Some of those reasons are good or well-meaning but sometimes not thought through or bad.
In Australia, voting in elections is compulsory hence the turnout is around 95% and not so where it is not compulsory. Take the US and UK as examples where turnout is low compared to the population size.
Voting in strata meetings is also not compulsory and often the turnout is low. Is it because it is voluntary? By extension does non-compulsory voting result in people being more prepared to give their proxies? Is giving a proxy a de-facto participation? These questions beg the answers.
My view is it is better to turn up and vote, but if you can’t, the next best thing is to think about giving your proxy to someone who will vote for you as you require.
“Think before you leap.”
Be careful and make sure the Proxy Form complies with the Strata Scheme Management Regulations and complete parts that are relevant and cross those that are not. See the form by clicking the link.
If someone has asked you to provide your proxy, query why they asked. Consider if the request is reasonable, is in your interests and in the interests of your scheme and not for some ulterior purpose such as self-interest such as stacking the strata committee, dismissing either a building manager or strata manager with whom there may have been an unfair falling out, not related to the quality of their work.
Read and consider each agenda item and make sure you understand each and make a thoughtful decision whether to support or oppose that agenda item. Avoid saying no for no’s sake. If you don’t understand any agenda item, seek out an explanation from someone who does have an understanding and is likely to be objective. You can contact your secretary or your strata manager who are only an email or phone call away.
You may give your proxy for all or some agenda items.
Before the Strata Schemes Management Act 2015, which came into effect on 30 November 2016, there was no restriction on the number of proxies that could be held by a lot owner or a person. There was room for shenanigans in the form of proxy farming. This would occur when overzealous and sometimes well-meaning lot owners would gather as many proxies as they could and use those to manipulate others to establish or maintain control, get their own way or to impose their wishes or views.
Schedule 1 Part 4 Division 1 Clause 25 sets out Rights of Proxies and Limits on Votes by Proxies.
Clause 26 deals with the Appointment of Proxies including the form and content of a proxy as well as the period for which the proxy is effective. If you have a change of heart after you appoint a proxy, you can attend the meeting and cast your vote instead of through your proxy.
Clause 26 (7) places a limit on the number of proxies that may be held by a person (other than proxies held by the person as the co-owner of a lot) voting on a resolution are as follows:
(a) if the strata scheme has 20 lots or less, one,
(b) if the strata scheme has more than 20 lots, a number that is equal to not more than 5% of the total number of lots.
Having the right to vote is important but we often take it for granted until that right has been taken away. You should treasure that right and not waste it. Even if you don’t intend to vote in person, think about appointing a proxy who can express your view through your vote as if you were present at the meeting.
Before you give your proxy make sure its terms express how you would vote if you were present, either for or against a motion.
You are probably familiar with the children’s party game where children sit in a circle and whisper a message one to another and by the time it gets back to the beginning, the original message has been completely distorted. Proxy farmers often play a similar game hence be wary of someone seeking your proxy and telling you they will complete the form for you. It is important to use precision when completing a proxy form. Importantly, as well, note how many meetings it covers. If you want your voice heard in your absence, make sure your proxy form is delivered to the secretary at least 24 hours before the meeting for a large scheme.
As I have said from time to time, knowledge is power. I hope I have given some insight to the world of proxies. At the end of the day, refer to and rely on the provisions of Strata Schemes Management Act and its Regulations.