In the realm of strata living, decision-making often hinges on a majority vote at either a strata committee meeting, a general meeting, or occasionally a special resolution at a general meeting. If a lot owner faces an unfavorable decision at the strata committee level, there are various strategies they can employ to address this, including building a compelling case, garnering support, escalating the matter to a general meeting, or seeking intervention from the QLD Civil and Administrative Tribunal (QCAT).

Each approach is outlined below, assuming the owner has correctly identified the strata committee’s authority to grant the approval. It’s essential to note that while the strata committee holds broad powers under the Strata Schemes Management Act 2015 (SSMA), specific functions can only be exercised by the owners corporation during a general meeting. Thus, it’s crucial to confirm whether the strata committee has the authority to address the issue in question.

Building a Case:

Lot owners should assemble and present comprehensive information supporting their request. Insufficient, incomplete, or unresponsive information may reduce the likelihood of a favorable decision. Providing a detailed written explanation, photographs, plans, or offering to speak at the committee meeting can significantly bolster the case.

It can be beneficial to directly inquire with the strata committee about any concerns regarding the proposal. This can assist owners in understanding and potentially addressing reasonable concerns while highlighting and addressing any unreasonable objections.

Building Support:

Whether the issue is deliberated at a strata committee or general meeting, owners can proactively garner support before the voting process. Engaging with individual owners to comprehend their perspectives or concerns, providing additional clarification, and seeking additional backing for the request can strengthen the chances of a favorable decision.

Escalating to a General Meeting:

If unsatisfied with the strata committee’s decision, owners might prompt the matter’s consideration by the owners corporation at a general meeting. Notably, in cases of disagreement, the owners corporation’s decision always supersedes that of the strata committee, according to section 36(2) of the SSMA.

Under Clause 4 of Schedule 1 of the SSMA, any owner or qualified voter at a general meeting, even if unfinancial, can insist on including a motion on the next general meeting’s agenda. Hence, if dissatisfied with the strata committee’s decision, owners can request the motion’s inclusion on the agenda for the owners corporation’s consideration at the next general meeting.

Instead of waiting for the subsequent general meeting (which may take months), dissatisfied owners may potentially compel the owners corporation to convene a general meeting. Section 19 of the SSMA allows for the convening of a general meeting within 14 days upon a qualified request from owners holding at least 25% of the unit entitlements.

Additionally, as per clause 9(3) of Schedule 2 of the SSMA, a ‘strata committee decision’ becomes ineffective if, before the decision, notice is given to the owners corporation’s secretary by owners holding more than one-third of the aggregate unit entitlements, opposing the decision. This opposition notice prevents the strata committee from determining a specified matter, necessitating a decision at the general meeting level to approve it.

These legislative aspects provide owners with the means to challenge a strata committee’s decision and prompt motions for consideration at a general meeting within a short timeframe.

QCAT Intervention:

In instances where a lot owner remains dissatisfied with the strata committee’s decision, they may, if legally justified, apply to QCAT or a Court for various orders to rectify the unsatisfactory outcome. These orders might involve injunctions against implementing the decision, removal of committee members, appointment of a compulsory strata manager, or other relevant orders to resolve the dispute.

It’s important to note that there’s no one-size-fits-all approach when a strata committee votes against a lot owner’s proposal. The appropriate course of action will depend on the specific circumstances in each case.

While the information provided is general in nature and may not be universally applicable, it presents broad considerations for lot owners seeking approval from their strata committee.