Strata meetings provide a forum for lot owners to voice their concerns and opinions and to have input in important decisions regarding the strata plan. There will undoubtedly be occasions in which a lot owner is unable to physically attend a meeting to exercise these rights, which is where the use of a voting proxy may be beneficial.
What is a proxy?
A proxy is someone who holds authority to exercise the voting right of another person on their behalf. Use of a proxy enables lot owners the opportunity to exercise their voting rights regardless of whether they can be in physical attendance or not. The designated voting proxy may be either instructed on how they are to place their vote with regard to particular resolutions, or they may be granted scope to make the decision themselves.
How do I appoint one?
To appoint a proxy, a form is prescribed in the Strata Schemes Management Regulation (clause 13), and must be completed and provided to the secretary of the owners corporation at least 24 hours prior to the meeting (for large schemes – think 100 + lot schemes) or prior to the meeting (for all other schemes). The form for proxy appointment can be found on the NSW Fair Trading website.
What are the powers of a proxy holder?
Section 25 of Schedule 1 of the Strata Schemes Management Act (’SSMA’) sets out the rights and limitations on votes by proxies. The powers of a proxy holder are limited by the discretion of the person by whom they are appointed. The prescribed form is required to contain a provision which details instructions on whether the proxy is to be able to vote on all matters, and if not, it is to detail the matters on which the proxy is permitted to vote and is also to detail how the proxy is to vote on a motion for the appointment or continuation of strata managing agent. A proxy vote which is exercised in opposition of the expressed intentions and limitations set out by the person who has appointed the holder will be deemed invalid as set out in Section 25(4) (Schedule 1) of the SSMA.
What does this mean for you if you want to appoint a proxy?
First, make sure you have completed the form properly including your full name (as registered on title), your lot number, the strata plan number, the details of your proxy and your alternate proxy if your first proxy is not available, consider whether you want to empower your proxy to vote as they feel fit or whether you want to restrict them and make notes on the form to set out your decision. Lastly, make sure you date it and, if you scheme has a by-law regulating how proxies are dealt with, make sure you have read it, if there is no by-law, check that your proxy is able to attend and vote on your behalf.