Annual General Meetings – Why you have to attend
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Written by Willem Louw, manager at Mamre Property Management – (firstname.lastname@example.org)
The most important document any owner in a sectional title scheme should take note of is the Sectional Title Act (2011), which was promulgated in 2016, and the regulations that supplement the act. This document is readily available on the internet as the Sectional Titles Schemes Management Act, 2011 (Act No 8 of 2011) and Management of Sectional Titles Schemes Management Regulations (act and regulations).
Let me make a statement: It is troubling how few owners in sectional title schemes (this includes trustees) know about the provisions of this act and its regulations. It is the oxygen and ten commandments of the scheme.
The body corporate requires bodies and agents to act on its behalf.
A body corporate has two important decision-making bodies, namely the Trustees and the Annual Meeting. The Annual Meeting consists of all the owners of the units in the sectional title scheme.
All meetings of owners are called Annual Meetings. The Annual Meetings are very important since they address any important matters that fall outside the jurisdiction of the Trustees. Under section 339 (1) of the law, the Annual Meetings also have the power to impose restrictions and give instructions to the Trustees.
The 2016 regulations also contain provisions regarding owner meetings, and Trustees and owners must familiarise themselves with all the requirements and prescriptions of these regulations. The largest number of court cases etc regarding bodies corporate arose at Annual Meetings wherein errors occurred.
Owners of sectional titles view Annual General Meetings as a formality, even an inconvenience, but attending these meetings is an important part of the ownership of sectional titles and must be viewed as such. And by the way, isn’t property our single biggest financial asset?
An Annual General Meeting gives all owners and Trustees the opportunity to discuss important issues regarding the operation and effective management of sectional titles schemes.
The owners of a sectional title scheme have to get together once a year via an Annual General Meeting, which has to take place within four months after the end of the financial year. The financial year of the body corporate runs from the first day of March each year to the last day of February the following year, except if a different decision was made by the Trustees on an Annual General Meeting. Ideally, the Annual General Meeting is usually held after this period, mainly due to delays in obtaining the audited financial statements that have to be sent with the notice of the meeting.
The subjects that are usually discussed during these meetings are:
- Finances: The Trustees will set out the audit of the finances of the scheme.
- Annual report: The Trustees will report about the work that was done during the financial year.
- Insurance: The insurance schedule and yearly budgets are discussed.
- Auditor: An auditor or accounting officer will be appointed at the meeting.
- Trustees: The Trustees for the next year are appointed by way of nominations and votes, and their duties and competencies can be specified.
- Other items: Issues that arose from the previous Annual General Meeting are discussed, as well as new issues that owners want to bring to the table.
Legal requirements of an Annual General Meeting:
An Annual General Meeting is a requirement that forms part of the good management of a sectional title scheme and there are a number of legal requirements related to it:
- An AGM has to be held at least once a year within four months from the end of the financial year.
- A suitable time, date, and place have to be established, and all owners, Trustees, and management agents have to be informed in a timely manner. Tenants are welcome to attend, but they are not allowed to vote on issues that are raised during the meeting.
- An attendance register must be kept.
- A quorum must be present to continue with the meeting and to make any binding decisions. A quorum is a percentage of owners based on the surface and number of sectional title units.
- If there aren’t enough attendees (a quorum), the meeting must be adjourned to the same time and place the following week.
- An owner who is unable to attend the Annual General Meeting may sign a proxy form that gives another owner the right to vote on their behalf at the meeting. However, take note that no owner may use more than two proxies from other owners within the scheme.
Attending the Annual Meetings is crucial for the meeting to take place. Owners must also be aware of the important operational and management issues, and that decisions made during the meeting are binding.
The one aspect that isn’t found in any act or regulation:
The Annual Meeting gives you and all the other owners the opportunity to meet each other and to socialise. However, it is not an opportunity to grind an axe with your neighbour.
I want to conclude with the following…
The ten commandments of sectional-title life:
- Treat your neighbour as you would treat yourself.
- You must show him patience and tolerance.
- And his pets.
- And his children.
- And his visitors.
- And his vehicles.
- Understand that being a Trustee is an ungrateful job.
- Understand that security systems are very fragile and are major causes of frustration.
- Fees must be paid regularly. Know that no one gets rich from it. Everything, including the services that are needed in the complex, costs money.
- In short, you have to be a part of the solution, not the problem.