Almost all scheme decisions are ultimately made by owners or owners’ representatives in meetings.
Owners need to know meetings are being held and what is to be considered so that they can decide what they want to do (and how). The integrity of meetings and the decisions made at them affects the reliable operation of schemes.
So, meetings are one of the more critical scheme activities.
All states require schemes to have at least one meeting per year for owners – the annual general meeting, but the notice period varies. And, if special or unanimous resolutions are involved the notice period is usually longer.
Some states prescribe the things that must be considered at annual general meetings. And, there are limits in most states as to how far apart annual general meetings can be held.
But, only Queensland requires schemes to let owners know that the operational year has ended and an annual general meeting will be held so that they can submit motions.
Usually less strict provisions apply to representative committee meetings.
All states have detailed mechanisms about quorums, voting processes, chairing meetings and adjournment but they vary considerably.
Two states (South Australia and Queensland) have controls about where meetings can be held.
While managers routinely chair meetings not all states permit it. And, only some states recognise the role of onsite managers.
The lot owners run strata schemes by exercising their right to vote on decisions in meetings. So, the right to vote, the extent of their vote and the kinds of decisions made are a key feature of lot ownership.
Every state gives each lot one equal vote on basic decisions (if no poll is called or required). But some states limit the maximum number of votes a person can hold or the maximum number of proxies a person can hold.
Usually it does not matter who holds the proxies but in Queensland letting managers are prevented from holding proxies and in New South Wales some kinds of proxies cannot be used by developers.
When a lot owner cannot attend meetings, they have the option of appointing a substitute representative by proxy. This allows owners to have their say in all circumstances.
But proxies need controls to ensure that the representation is valid and accurate.
In most states there is a prescribed proxy form. Some states also require the form to be given to lot owners with the meeting notice.
And, in most states the proxy can be submitted anytime up to the start of the meeting (and even at the meeting). But, in some states (Queensland) and in some circumstances (large schemes in New South Wales) proxies need to be delivered before the meeting date.