Since 2009 when the new Bulgarian Condominium Ownership Management Act came into force many important questions have been contentiously asked by owners.
1. What is the difference between General Meeting, Annual General Meeting, General Meeting of Owners, General Assembly, General Assembly of Owners?
There is no difference. All of these are synonyms and mean one and the same thing when it comes to Bulgarian condominium law. Most popular and widely used are General Meeting of Owners (GMO) and Annual General Meeting (AGM).
2. Does Bulgarian law allow for the General Meeting to be convened by e-mail?
No, it does not.
According to Art.13 of Bulgarian Condominium Ownership Management Act “The invitation shall be delivered to the owner, the occupant or to an adult from the household, which is entered into the book under Art. 7. The delivery shall be verified by a receipt in two copies, which shall be signed by the receiving person and the deliverer, stating the date and the time of delivery. In cases, where the owner of the occupant is absent or refuses to receive the invitation, it shall be reckoned for delivered, after sticking it on the entrance door of the separate premises within the terms under Para 1. The sticking of the invitations shall be verified by the deliverer by a protocol, which shall contain the circumstances, under which the invitation has not been delivered in person, the date and the time of its sticking. The protocol shall be signed by a witness, owner or occupant of the condominium ownership.”
Or to summarize there are only two legal ways for convening the General Meeting: personal invitation (signed by the owner or a representative) or an invitation glued on the door plus a protocol.
3. Can the General Meeting be convened throughout the whole year?
Yes, but there are some limitations.
Unless in urgent cases, the General Meeting can not be called 1. From 15th July to 15th September and 2. On bank holidays. This practically means that the General Meeting could be convened only on business days and not in the summer holiday season. However exceptions are allowed – in urgent cases – when for example there are outstanding problems that need to be resolved before the end of the summer holiday season etc.
4. Is there an opportunity for the General Meeting to take place in a different town / country if all or the majority of owners permanently reside in another town / country?
No, there is no such law provision.
According to Art.16 of the Condominium Ownership Management Act “The General Meeting shall be held at an appropriate place in the condominium ownership, its belonging area or at another place, close to it.”
In the worst case the General Meeting can take place in the same town but in another building.
5. Can an owner be represented at the General Meeting and is there any special authorisation form?
Yes, owners can be represented by authorised persons.
However there are many strict requirements:
- The authorisation should be in writing
- An owner could be represented by a third person only by a notarized Power of Attorney (POA)
- A representative can vote on behalf of no more than 3 owners who have duly authorised him
6. Can owners be represented at the General Meeting by lawyers?
Yes, they can however the POA document should be notarized.
7. Does Bulgarian law allow owners to sign POA over the Internet?
No, the POA document should be an original signed hard copy. Scanned and printed documents or photocopies are not considered valid if there is no original hard copy document. E-mails are also not valid authorization forms since there is no original signed hard paper copy.
8. Can anyone be elected Manager of the Condominium?
No, according to Bulgarian legislation only an owner in the Condominium could be elected Manager.
9. Could a company be elected a Manager of the Condominium?
No, although there are no explicit law provisions. Many practising lawyers in Bulgaria believe that only a natural (physical) person could be elected Manager due to the nature of the obligations that are to be undertaken.
10. Will the General Meeting be cancelled or postponed if very few owners are represented?
No, definitely not. Actually the General Meeting should be postponed for a later hour on the very same day and then will continue its work regardless of the number of represented owners.
11. Is it possible for the minority of owners to adopt decisions at the General Meeting which are mandatory for absolutely all owners?
Yes, in a scenario described in the previous paragraph. In such situation the vote of only one owner could obligate all the others. This is why it is very important for as many owners as possible to participate actively in such events.
12. Is it the number of apartments or the number of square meters that really matters?
The votes are calculated on the basis of owned sq.m. For example an owner that has an 100 sq.m. apartment has more votes that two owners who have two apartments, 40 sq.m. each of them.
13. What are the legal requirements to set up an Owners Association?
There are provisions regarding only one type of Owners Association in Bulgarian Condominium Ownership Management Act. According to Art.25 “In order to incorporate an association, a founding meeting of all the owners of the condominium ownership shall be called.”. Or in other words – 100% of the owners need to vote for this association to be formed – which is practically very hard to achieve.
14. Could owners then form some other type of Owners Association?
No, from legal point of view the Condominium Ownership Management Act allows only one type of association. However despite of this owners (the majority or the minority) could practically unite and act and vote as one.