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Flat Chat

Efficient neighbours or ruthless dictators?

When is an efficient and tightly run Executive Committee a powerful, corrupt and exclusive clique? When someone wants in but can't get in, perhaps.

When ECs work efficiently, with discussions informed and to the point, meetings take less time and more gets done. For those who give up their spare time - an increasingly rare commodity these days - this is an absolute boon.

Why would the EC welcome a new member who plans to question every decision past, present and future, because they either don't agree or don't understand? On the other hand, anyone excluded from the EC for no reason other than they ask too many questions might reasonably assume that there's something sinister going on.

An email from a new resident in a building whose efforts to infiltrate just such a powerful and apparently self-interested group detailed a litany of apparent abuses and a nasty series of personal attacks. A recent move to conduct EC meetings by email was seen as a further attempt to exclude our reader and he asked if this was legal.

The simple answer is yes. Email or written EC votes are allowed by law although notice and agendas of all EC meetings, virtual or actual, have to be given 72 hours before the meeting is held and minutes have to be distributed or displayed on a notice board within seven days.

However, since there's no prescribed way of including "observers", this could be a very effective way of excluding non-members from the process.

So what do you do if your building is run by a self-interested clique rather than a benign dictatorship? Most apartment owners will tolerate an incredible amount of dubious behaviour by their EC just as long as the value of their property and their quality of life aren't harmed.

The best way might be to campaign quietly to get yourself and a few like-minded owners voted on to the EC at the next AGM. But don't overstate your case. Ranting and raving about crimes, real or imagined, is more likely to frighten your neighbours than garner their votes.

In a world where everyone wants a quiet life, the devil you know is often a better option than someone who seems to be perpetually angry about something.

First published SMH May 2007