I recently presented a workshop during which I discussed with those in attendance the requirement and importance of having members of bodies corporate cast their votes on voting cards at the scheme’s general meetings. Some of the feedback I received from managing agents attending the workshop included “But we have been voting by show of hands for years” and “It is just much less admin for us to do it that way”. Others offered the argument that the Sectional Titles Schemes Management Act never explicitly states that voting must be done in any other way.
Of course my first order of business was to point these managing agents to the fact that the prescribed management rules require that voting cards be issued to those present at any general meeting. I don’t believe there could be any reasonable argument that the intention of the legislature was for voting cards to be issued, but not used. Therefore the argument that the words “members must cast their votes on voting cards” are missing from the Act and prescribed rules cannot be used to justify a vote by show of hands.
What’s more, we know that ordinary resolutions are passed by the majority of members in value and that a special resolution must be passed by at least 75% of members calculated in both number and value. Without knowing exactly which members voted for and against the resolution and the value of the votes cast by those owners, how could one possibly be sure of the value of the votes cast? Counting raised hands quite simply will not prove effective.
The last, and in my opinion most important, reason for using voting cards to cast votes is that it can be kept as proof. Especially given the fact that relevant roleplayers are now able to approach the Community Schemes Ombud Service for relief pertaining to resolutions either unreasonably opposed or, on the flip side of that coin, challenge the validity of resolutions purportedly passed, it is more important that ever to keep proof of how the votes were cast.
While the scheme may have been doing things a certain way for many years, it only takes one person (perhaps a new owner) to challenge the validity of a purportedly passed resolution for the whole house of cards to come tumbling down. Why risk it?
Make sure you issue and use voting cards at your next general meeting to prevent problems which could so easily have been avoided.
Article reference: Paddocks Press: Volume 15, Issue 3.
Specialist Community Scheme Attorney (BA (Law) LLB), Ané de Klerk, combines her work experience as a Portfolio Manager with knowledge of conveyancing and community scheme law.
This article is published under the Creative Commons Attribution license.