Section 38 of the Sectional Titles Act deals with the powers of a body corporate and section 39 gives the trustees authority to exercise those powers. Similarly directors of Associations are given power through the Articles of Association to exercise their responsibilities.
These responsibilities relate largely to the control, management and administration of the common property. So what happens when trustees or even members themselves wish to involve the Body Corporate/Association in something that is unrelated to the common property?
Examples of this might be involvement in the following :
- A neighbourhood block watch.
- The local rate payers association.
- Upgrading a nearby park.
- Road closures.
- Security schemes.
- Community feeding schemes.
- Contributions to suburb upgrades of various kinds.
- The SPCA or conserving the bush babies in the area.
Whilst trustees and members should always be encouraged to play their part in a community, the problem arises when money is introduced into the equation. In this regard, understanding that money collected through levies belongs to all members, is the starting point to answering the question.
The Sectional Titles Act and various Articles of Association do not give specific authority for involvement in matters outside the walls of the complex. This means that trustees, and even members in general meeting, must be cautious when committing funds of the Body Corporate or Association to any cause where there is no direct link to the common property or the interests of all owners.
To use a specific example, what if the community scheme seeking your support is there to provide additional security for the suburb? The guards will be performing a similar function to those at the complex. They are simply not sitting on or patrolling on the common property itself. Couldn't one argue that this is directly related to the security of the complex?
There is certainly merit in the above argument. In such instances, I believe that trustees should take care to seek approval from the members in general meeting and to include the cost of their intended support in the budget for approval. If approved, then at least you can move forward knowing that you have the support of your members.
Remember that every complex has at least one difficult owner (the one that gives the trustees and Whitfields staff members grey hair). It is almost uncanny how someone almost always feels the need to perform this role. The bottom line is that you should be prepared to be challenged on issues such as this.
A final note on this topic - sometimes the entities seeking your support are looking for the easy route. They could sign up the individual owners and get monthly payments from them by debit order, but that is more work for them than a single regular payment from an association/body corporate. If support from members is uncertain, rather assist the outside entity by allowing them to send an e-mail to all your members and let them get support in this way, just as they would with the individual houses in the area.