How do we go on with a management committee of zero?

Borthwick Chris Jul2019lg

In this help sheet series, Our Community’s resident agony uncle, Chris Borthwick, offers answers to frequently asked questions about issues not-for-profits are facing.

Dear Agony Uncle,

I am the chairperson of a homeowners committee and we are due to hold our AGM shortly. Ours is an over-50s lifestyle village with nearly 200 residents.

Nominations for the committee closed last week and we have received no applicants for any position, a committee of six.

What do we do if nobody nominates from the floor at the AGM? This may be the case.

We understand it may be necessary for the committee to continue as a steering committee until a new committee is formally elected.

Your input would be greatly appreciated.

Agony Uncle's answer

The first question is “What does your constitution say about this?” and I imagine that the answer is “It says nothing” because almost no constitutions do.

The next question is “What happens now?” Subject to the exact words of your constitution, the general assumption would be that the term of the committee extends to the date of the election of the next committee, and if there wasn’t an election then your terms would keep running. At some point, yes, that assumption will crinkle and rot and decay, but I’ve seen cases where it ran for 30 years, so not yet, I think.

I don’t know whether that’s good news or bad news, of course. You have a pretty free hand to run the place, and there’s nobody to say nay – certainly nobody outside the organisation, and anybody within the organisation who complains can surely be drafted to take up the poisoned chalice. But there’s nobody to take the load off your shoulders, either. You can’t just close the committee down, I would think, because it’s an integral part of the property settlement.

And so? I don’t know. Normally such an organisation just ceases to exist, but that’s not an option either.

Mind you, I’m assuming that the committee is a committee of management of the village rather than just a social group. If the latter, just stop.

In any case, once this has been resolved one way or another, I’d recommend putting something in the constitution to cover a full no-show – defaulting to a paid administrator, perhaps, with an annual AGM in case people wanted to come back.

Best wishes,
Agony Uncle.

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