When all else fails, do you sack the committee?

18 July 2016

Experience in the management rights industry gained over more than 25 years tells me that the best run buildings are those where there is a genuine spirit of cooperation and consultation between the resident manager and the committee. Whilst in the overwhelming majority of complexes this is the case, many of us have experienced situations where this is far from the case.

Regrettably there are some committee members that just do not want to cooperate with the resident manager. I regularly ask why this is so and a pattern emerges of the types of committee members who behave this way. They are often the dominating, bullying type for whom it is “my way or the highway”. Jealousy also plays a part and they regard any success the resident manager has with envy and suspicion. There are also the types who have had little if any commercial success in life who, having reached a position of perceived authority as a chairperson or committee member, want to exercise that authority over the resident manager.

None of these types of people are interested in building a relationship or working cooperatively with the resident manager. Many of them attempt, and unfortunately succeed, through bullying tactics and deceitful propaganda to manipulate other owners into following an agenda of hostility against the resident manager.

Fortunately these types of people and the situations they engender are in the minority. But if a resident manager finds himself or herself in a complex where one or more committee members fit the description I have outlined, then serious consideration should be given to taking steps to have them removed from the committee and replaced with someone who genuinely has the interests of all owners at heart and sees the value in working with, not against, the resident manager.

If you thought that the code of conduct for committee members in the Body Corporate and Community Management Act might be of some help, forget it. Whilst that code describes in some details how a committee member should behave, there is no simple or effective way to make committee members comply with the code and no real consequences for committee members who ignore the code.

The legislation does allow any owner who believes the replacement of a committee member is warranted to requisition an extraordinary general meeting to have that member removed and replaced. It is a process we have had to resort to on a number of recent occasions, with success each time.

The process of removing an elected committee member ought not be started unless you have exhausted efforts to resolve your differences amicably and you are certain you have or will have the support of a majority of owners at the EGM which will consider the motion.

You will need the support of at least 25% of owners to be able to requisition an EGM but if you can gather that support, the secretary has no choice but to convene and hold an EGM within 6 weeks of receiving the requisition.

Ideally you will try and get more than half the owners to sign the requisition for an EGM because firstly it confirms to you that you have the support of a majority of owners and secondly because it sends a clear message to the committee member/s concerned that the motion will succeed at the EGM when it is held. That might just be enough to encourage the member or members concerned to resign.

You and your close supporters will need to do some lobbying of owners prior to the holding of the EGM. Do not underestimate the extent to which those you are seeking to remove will go to hold onto their positions. We can assist you in how to approach owners for support.

The legislation allows for the sacking of the committee member or members concerned and in the same motion, the appointment of an owner or owners in their place. Careful wording is required to ensure that those you are seeking to remove do not sabotage the process. There are also steps that can be taken to prevent the chairman from successfully ruling your motion out of order at the EGM.