Welcome to the community
“It was an eye-opening experience for me—both stressful and exciting,” says Julie, of buying her first apartment. “I’m settling in well though. I’ve been getting to know my neighbours, and the building manager better; and I love that we’ve got a gym and pool on site! I just need to figure out this AGM stuff and get a better understanding of my role.”
Julie had been living in her new apartment for a little over eight months, when she got her first invitation to the complex’s Annual General Meeting. Like many new residents in apartment complexes, she was daunted and unsure about what to expect, and what was expected of her. Julie got in touch with us straight away, as the body corporate manager, and AGM convenors. We were able to answer all her initial questions, and in very little time at all, she was looking forward to the event, ready to join in and have her say alongside other owners.
What happens at an Annual General Meeting?
As the name suggests, this meeting happens once a year. The body corporate, which is represented by the committee, runs the meeting, either on site, or at another agreed venue, such as the body corporate manager’s office.
Owners who can’t attend the meeting can still submit motions, nominate for committee positions, and send proxy votes (more on each of those shortly).
The AGM has to meet set regulations under Queensland’s Body Corporate and Community Management Act 1997. These regulations include the timing of the meeting (within three months of the end of the body corporate’s financial year), the core business it should address, and how it is run.
An AGM is different to the body corporate’s committee meetings in that it concerns high-level operations and planning for the year ahead. At the AGM, the body corporate—that is, the community of owners—decides on matters like the annual budget, contributions and insurance. It also elects a new committee for the coming year. The AGM is also when the outgoing committee reports to all owners on the previous year’s financial and other relevant management performance. In addition to these core activities, there may also be other motions that require the owners’ input and vote.
Notice of an Annual General Meeting
The Body Corporate and Community Management Act also sets out requirements for calling an AGM, including the how and when of notifying owners. The body corporate secretary or body corporate manager must send written notification to owners at least 21 days ahead of the AGM.
As well as the date, time and venue for the meeting, the notice also needs to include the meeting agenda and all the relevant paperwork and information for owners to review ahead of time. This will help them determine what questions they may wish to raise at the meeting, and how they want to vote on different motions. It will also allow them to nominate a proxy if they can’t attend the meeting personally.
Submitting a motion
During the course of the year, the body corporate committee handles day-to-day decisions for running and maintaining the building or complex, as well as any matters other owners may raise.
The AGM is where the bigger decisions—ones that need all owners’ votes and feedback—are made. As well as the mandatory agenda items set out by the Act, owners can also submit “motions” or topics to be discussed and decided on at the AGM. You’ll receive an invitation to submit a motion three to six weeks before the end of your body corporate’s financial year.
Submit your motion in writing to the Secretary before the end of the body corporate’s financial year so he or she can include it in the agenda. Be sure to include any supporting documents, such as quotes, with your submission. Your motion will be added to the voting paper without changes, so clarity is vital.
Making a committee nomination
Before the AGM, owners can nominate a candidate for election to the next body corporate committee. At the same time you receive your invitation to submit a motion, you’ll also be invited to nominate candidates for your body corporate committee. As for motions, you’ll need to return your nominations to the Secretary by the end of your body corporate’s financial year.
You can nominate up to three candidates depending on how many lots you own in a particular complex—again, these limits are set by the Body Corporate and Community Management Act.
Eligible candidates can be the owners themselves or their appointed power of attorney; you can nominate another lot owner, or an immediate family member (including adult children).
Being a committee member takes commitment, and no little effort, so if you’re thinking about nominating yourself for a position, talk to one of the incumbents first about how much time they put in. Equally, if you’re thinking about nominating someone else, be sure to discuss with them whether they’d be interested in the role, and able to commit to the necessary work for the next 12 months.
Proxies—Who and How
Another of the documents you’ll get with your invitation to the AGM will be a Proxy Form. If you can’t go to the meeting yourself, use this form to nominate someone who can attend to vote on your behalf—either under your direction, or at their own discretion. Make sure you talk to the person you’re nominating first to check they will be able to attend the meeting, and that they’re happy to act in your place. Your proxy can be anyone who is happy to attend the meeting on your behalf; it doesn’t have to be another owner.
There are limits to how many proxies one individual can hold at an AGM, so ask your nominee if they’ll be holding any other owners’ proxies at the meeting, and how many so you can find someone else if they’re at their limit. (You can check the limit with your body corporate’s Secretary or your body corporate manager.) And be sure to return the form by the deadline set in the notification documents.
Congratulations! You’re ready for your first AGM
All the rules, regulations and formalities around AGMs can seem daunting, but your body corporate manager will be there to help you and the committee to understand and meet all your obligations. The most important thing to remember is to ask questions if you’re not sure of anything—and ask them sooner than later. Otherwise, you may have to wait until the next body corporate committee meeting, or even the next Annual General Meeting, before you can make any progress.
Image credit: Nicole Honeywill, Unsplash