To combat issues surrounding Covid-19, many of you will know that electronic strata meetings and electronic voting have been adapted and regulated to reduce the risk of public transmission of the virus.
Voting does not have to be done in person. An owners corporation can vote on matters by:
- teleconference, videoconferencing, email, or other electronic devices
- pre-meeting electronic voting. This is a vote by email or other electronic means before the meeting. Both the owners corporation and strata committee can use this method of voting. An election cannot involve a pre-meeting electronic vote.
All strata schemes and community associations can now meet and vote electronically at general and committee meetings. Previously, strata schemes could only meet and vote electronically if the owners corporation or strata committee had adopted a resolution to allow it. Community schemes laws didn’t provide for electronic voting.
To ensure these owners aren’t excluded or disadvantaged, the scheme’s secretary must take reasonable steps to ensure all owners can participate in and vote at meetings.
This requirement applies to strata schemes that haven’t previously authorised electronic voting and to all community schemes. It doesn’t apply to strata schemes that have previously resolved to allow electronic voting. They are unaffected by these changes.
Electronic voting and meetings are new for all community schemes and required new laws ensuring:
- community associations can vote by teleconference, videoconference, email or other electronic means
- certain motions can be voted on before the meeting using pre-meeting electronic voting
- schemes can hold elections electronically for committees.
At a minimum, the secretary should ensure the technology chosen:
- is accessible to all lot owners.
- does not incur unreasonable expenses for individual lot owners to use.
- has easy to follow instructions readily available.
Committee secretaries should consider the size of the scheme and the type of owners when deciding how to ensure participation.
Are electronic meetings mandatory for all schemes?
No. The new laws simply provide schemes with the option to meet and vote validly by electronic means.
Some schemes may be able to continue holding meetings in person and paper ballots for voting, as long as they follow public health advice about physical distancing and hygiene.
The new laws also allow for meeting notices and other documents to be served by email, rather than hard copy, reducing points of contact.
To learn more, head to Fair Trading’s website where they address online meeting and voting in more detail, here.