Proposal to cap proxy votes draws cheers

Proposal to cap proxy votes draws cheers
The Building and Construction Authority (BCA) is proposing to limit the number of proxies that any one person can hold. The agency said yesterday it is conducting its third and final consultation on the review of the Building Maintenance and Strata Management Act which governs the management and maintenance of strata properties such as condos.
PHOTO: The Straits Times

Proxy wars at condominium general meetings - where some owners gather hundreds of proxy votes to try to push their own agenda - could end soon.

The Building and Construction Authority (BCA) is proposing to limit the number of proxies that any one person can hold.

The agency said yesterday it is conducting its third and final consultation on the review of the Building Maintenance and Strata Management Act which governs the management and maintenance of strata properties such as condos.

A BCA spokesman said the final public consultation, to end on Feb 21, includes proposed amendments raised from previous rounds of consultation.

The draft amendments aim to enhance governance and transparency over how strata-titled developments are run and to provide clarity on provisions.

The most notable change would involve a limit on the number of proxies one can hold.

Currently, a unit owner can appoint a proxy to represent him to vote at a general meeting - with no restriction on the number of proxies a person can hold.

The amendment would cap the number of proxies at either 2 per cent of the total number of lots in the development or two subsidiary proprietors, or unit owners, whichever is the higher figure, in a strata-titled project.

Industry watchers cheered the proposed amendments.

Savills Property Management's deputy managing director Winnie Wong called the proposal a "good development".

There have "always been complaints by subsidiary proprietors at general meetings that another subsidiary proprietor holding a lot of proxies will be controlling the decisions made at the general meeting".

Owners who collect proxies usually do so to vote for or against collective sales or by-laws like the charging for parking of a second vehicle, she said.

Mr Jimmie Ling of the Association of Management Corporations in Singapore said he has advised at least 10 management councils over such proxy-collecting owners.

"With unlimited proxies, people can push for their personal agenda," he said.

"For people who feel that they are at the losing end, I usually tell them to do the same thing - collect your own proxies, but it's not so simple a thing to do."

Mr Ling had previously seen an individual holding 250 proxies.

He said allowing a 2 per cent cap on proxies would only "minimise" the problem, but not eradicate the dominance of certain individuals. As many condos are large, a few people forming a group and collecting 2 per cent of total unit holders each could still wield a significant influence.

Mr Alan Tang, a council member in a condo, said: "Whichever side you are on, I think this amendment creates fairness."

However, he added that the limit on proxies could also mean that residents who cannot attend a meeting may be unable to find a person to hold their proxy.

Dr Lim Lan Yuan, president of the Association of Property and Facility Managers noted that the cap on proxies could cause issues such as not being able to pass amendments. But, the potential disadvantages were minor when seen against the advantages of the proposed amendments, which would bring greater transparency and fairness, he added.

xinen@sph.com.sg


This article was first published on Feb 2, 2017.
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