NSW: Q&A Owners Corporation Committee Decisions

Question: How do we force a decision in a 4 unit, self-managed complex? There are always 2 for and 2 against.

Strata is a democracy and it comes back down to a vote.

Generally a four lot scheme can create more work than a 400 lot scheme because of that one reason where you just continue to get into deadlocks. It’s very common. Strata is a democracy and it comes down to a vote. Unfortunately, when you’re in a four lot scheme, you can’t get that majority vote and you’re in a deadlock.

I basically say that if the decision relates to something that is an obligation of an Owners Corporation, so if it’s e.g. requirement to repair common property, which is a requirement under Section 106, of the Strata Schemes Management ACT, then you can force a decision through NCAT.

However, if it’s a deadlocked decision on something that is not an obligation of the Owners Corporation, then the matter remains unresolved. You could take NCAT, but you’re going to have to have grounds on why you’re forcing it.

I’ll give some examples:

  1. If there was a failed water membrane, and it was leaking, and you had a deadlock, where two owners wanted to repair the membrane and two owners didn’t, it’s a deadlock. I would definitely take that to NCAT. Because an Owners Corporation has an obligation to repair that failed membrane under Section 106. So it’s not really a choice. It’s something that you have to do i.e. it’s an obligation. And I think you’d be successful in having that pursued in NCAT.
  2. If on the other hand, is the situation was, ‘We think that the carpets are dated, and although they’re in good condition we want to replace carpet with tiles in the lobby’. That for me is an upgrade. It would be very difficult to force upon other owners that are against it because that’s more of an upgrade as opposed to an obligation.

So I think the short answer is where you feel that the decision is an obligation of the Owners Corporation to meet the obligations under the Act for repairing and maintaining or any other type of obligation, you can force that decision through NCAT but if it’s a simple decision about wanting to upgrade or altering common property in any way just to enhance the common property, then I don’t think you can force that decision. Unfortunately, it’s a democracy. If you don’t have the votes, it ends up being a deadlock and the matter remains unresolved.

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