Thinking Inside the Box

A Paddocks Sectional Title Lifestyle Blog

Electronic communication in community schemes

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By Anton Kelly

A reality in the management of community schemes these days is the use of electronic communication methods between members and the governing body of the scheme – whether this method of communication for specific purposes is strictly permissible or not.

Applicable legislation provides that:

  • a legal requirement for a document or information to be in writing is satisfied if that document or information is in the form of a data message and is accessible for later use;
  • the governing body of a community scheme must have a service address;
  • a sectional title body corporate may have a fax or email address as a service address in addition to its physical service address; and
  • the governing body of a community scheme and its members notify each other in various contexts.

One of the issues with electronic communication is that not everybody has the necessary equipment or is not able to use it, so a community scheme must retain facilities that can accommodate receiving and sending hard copy documents. It is suggested that this is the schemes formal service address, or domicilium citandi et executandi. 

So what email address can members use to communicate with the governing body and how do they know that their communication will reach the intended recipient?

Common solutions to this question, particularly in smaller schemes are the chairperson’s personal email address, or the managing agent’s email address. While the managing agent is likely to remain for some time, trustees come and go so a dedicated scheme address would be preferable to that of an individual. There also needs to be someone appointed to deal with incoming emails. This could be part of a listed trustee duty or included in the managing agent’s contract.

The most modern solution is a scheme website. A website can be used to provide all necessary information and communication between the governing body and members. It might seem a bit daunting and expensive to establish, especially for small schemes, but the convenience would make the expense worthwhile, especially if the website is “mobile friendly”. Many managing agents operate software packages that provide an “owner portal” which is effectively the same as the scheme having its own website.

The proliferation of home computers, laptops, tablets and smartphones means people are becoming ever more technologically literate and can communicate more widely and easily than ever. It makes sense for community schemes to harness this trend and use it to facilitate scheme governance.

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One comment on “Electronic communication in community schemes

  1. Johann Koring
    March 22, 2017

    Are there any online software solutions (based on a website) recommended that could build a convenient and modern communication between owners, trustees and mananging agents which are not so expensive? Is there anything based on Joomla or WordPress or any other CMS-system which does not require a contract with fees paid on a monthly base?

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