4.2.1 Encourage a culture of ethics

It is worth reiterating that as an executive committee member you will often have choices about how to do business, how to respond to questions, engage dialogue, disclose and explain decisions. You will inevitably bring your past and current experience and ways of doing these things into the actions of executive committee. But given the highly unstructured and diverse plethora of opinions, issues and situations, it may not be as easily apparent what the most appropriate next step or action should be. Many times there is no ‘right’ next step – it is a choice or exploration. But some guiding ‘ethical’ principles would be worth following so as to not get yourselves in an unexplainable situation, to be able to sleep at night and to maintain pleasant and integrity based relationships.

In a Queensland strata scheme, an non-executive committee owner was aware of the possibility of underhand tactics and overcharging of the current caretaker. She tried in vein to alert the executive committee and other owners. She ended up being vilified and treated with disrespect. However, she did not stop. She ended up going onto the strata office and examining the financial and communication records with another sympathetic owner. What they discovered and clearly and precisely analysed and communicated got the caretaker sacked, caused the existing executive committee to resign and for her and he friend to lead the new executive committee.

Suppliers: Treat suppliers like you would expect to be treated yourself. Respect their work and efforts and their need to make some profit. Of course, you need to get the best prices and service for the owners corporation you represent, but do not do this in an underhand way, destroy or harm someone’s business unnecessarily. We all make mistakes, and there are ways of resolving or disengaging from a supplier that are less traumatic to all concerned than others.

Owners: You are their elected representative. Your opinion is important – and you may well have more information, knowledge or skills in strata – but their opinion and needs are too. Treat them with respect, try and understand and solve them, even if you don’t agree fully with them, and you will be respected and enjoy the role far more than fighting for your way or the high-way.

Tenants: Too often tenants are treated like second class citizens. They are not. If the owner occupiers are the skeleton, tenants are the life blood of a building. Without them and their rental money your building would be a shell. They have as much right to respect and to enjoy their home as an owner occupier does.

Staff: Some larger building’s have staff, concierge, caretaker, security, building manager, cleaners. These are often contractors but in some cases employees. Treat them fairly and well as they are the muscles of your building, making sure that things are done, done well and on time. Give them gratitude when they deliver for you and understanding if they falter. Again if there is reason to part company, follow due process, compensate them as appropriate for termination and allow each party to move on with dignity and hope.

Executive committee members: Your fellow executive committee members are probably the most important relationships to cultivate. Respect their feelings, differences of opinion and needs – allow them to express themselves fully and with understanding, and be able to express yourself in this way to. Rarely do two people have exactly the same opinion or approach to an issue. Find ways to acknowledge the differences but focus on the similarities, the guiding principles. Should money be spent here or there, now or in the future? Sometimes people need to get used to a new idea or concept for a while before being able to realistically consider and embrace it. Give people time to understand and change their mind, give yourself time to change your mind too.

Appendix D

Code of Conduct (sample)

As an elected member of (Scheme number and address) I (name and unit number) agree that at all times I will:

  1. Be committed to acquiring a basic understanding of and comply with, the relevant legislation, this code and all rules/by-laws concerning this scheme.
  2. Act honestly and fairly and not unreasonably disclose information held by the owners corporation, including information about an owner.
  3. Act in the best interests of the owners corporation unless it is unlawful to do so.
  4. Not cause a nuisance or otherwise behave in a way to bring disrepute or diminish the good reputation of this committee.
  5. Respect fellow members’ opinions and differences and foster a spirit of teamwork and co-operation.
  6. Be committed to attending all meetings of the committee other than in exceptional circumstances such as illness.
  7. Comply with committee process and procedure as determined by the committee from time to time.
  8. Disclose to the committee any conflict of interest I may have in a matter before the committee and not to vote on such matters.

Each candidate should acknowledge by signing and handing in the code of conduct when nominated.

Signed:                                                                                                            Date:                                                               

The Executive Committee: Is yours efficient and high functioning? © Dynamic Property Services:

Owners Education Series


UNIT TITLES (MANAGEMENT) ACT 2011 - SCHEDULE 1                                      (Australian Capital Territory)

Schedule 1 Codes of conduct (see s 46 and s 56)

Part 1.1 Executive committees—code of conduct

1 Understanding of Act and code:An executive member must have—

(a) a commitment to acquiring an understanding of the Act, as relevant to the member's role on the executive committee; and

(b) a good understanding of this code.

2 Honesty and fairness:An executive member must act honestly and fairly in exercising the member's functions as an executive member.

3 Care and diligence:An executive member must exercise reasonable care and diligence in exercising the member's functions as an executive member.

4 Acting in owners corporation's best interests:An executive member must act in the best interests of the owners corporation in exercising the member's functions as an executive member, unless it is unlawful to do so.

5 Complying with Act and code:An executive member must take reasonable steps to ensure that the member complies with the Act, including this code, when exercising the member's functions as an executive member.

6 Nuisance:An executive member must not—

(a) cause a nuisance on the land; and

(b) otherwise behave in a way that unreasonably affects a person's lawful use or enjoyment of a unit or the common property.

7 Unconscionable conduct:An executive member must not engage in unconscionable conduct in exercising the member's functions as an executive member.  Examples

  1.  improperly using the executive member's position on the executive committee to gain, directly or indirectly, an advantage personally or for someone else
  2.  exerting undue influence on, or using unfair tactics against, the owner of a unit in the units plan

8 Conflict of interest:An executive member must disclose to the executive committee any conflict of interest the member may have in a matter before the committee.