If an individual VvE member cannot agree with a VvE decision, this person has the option of requesting the subdistrict court judge to have the decision in question annulled. Recently, the Supreme Court has provided more clarity about the period within which such a request must be made. In this blog we take a brief look at the legislation on this subject and discuss the Supreme Court ruling .
VvE decision annulment
Suppose your VvE has made a decision that you have major objections to. In that case, there are various reasons why you could have such a decision annulled (Section 2:15 of the Dutch Civil Code):
- The decision is contrary to the legal or statutory rules of the making of the decision (eg meeting not convened correctly);
- The decision is contrary to reasonableness and fairness;
- The decision is contrary to the rules of procedure.
A request to have a VvE decision annulled must be submitted to the subdistrict court judge within one month after the applicant has taken cognizance or has been able to take cognizance of the decision (Article 5: 130 paragraph 2 of the Dutch Civil Code). With regard to a decision to amend the division deed, a different period of three months applies to claim the annulment of the relevant decision (5: 140 sub b BW). If a request is submitted too late, the sub-district court will declare the apartment owner inadmissible.
Moreover, a voidable decision should not be confused with a void decision. A decision may, for example, be void because it violates the deed of division, the law or the articles of association. Unlike a voidable decision, a void decision is deemed not to exist and therefore no annulment can be requested.
The rules regarding the time limit for requesting annulment seem simple and unambiguous, but practice has proved more difficult. However, the Supreme Court recently issued a judgment providing the necessary tools for assessing issues related to this period.
In the case in question, the apartment owner had taken note of a VvE decision on the day, 10 December, that the VvE had announced the decision via its website and by sending an e-mail. The owner did not attend the meeting of November 23 where the decision was originally taken. The owner therefore stated that the period for requesting the annulment of the decision had only started to run on 10 December because he had only then taken note of the decision.
Not only the subdistrict court judge, but also the court of appeal ruled wrong with the owner in question. The court of appeal states that an owner / member of the VvE can generally be expected, if he cannot be present at the meeting, to find out as quickly as possible which decisions have been taken , so that the one-month period already starts one day after the meeting. However, the owner did not leave it at that and brought the case before the Supreme Court.
Judgment of the Supreme Court
First of all, the Supreme Court states that the period starts as soon as the owner has reasonably been able to take cognizance of the decision. The circumstances of the case are decisive. The Supreme Court is of the opinion that if it is customary within the VvE to make decisions known through publication on a website, or through the distribution of an e-mail, that the owner could only reasonably have been informed of the decision from the moment when the announcement has taken place. This of course only applies if the owner has not attended the meeting himself. If it is not customary within the VvE to announce decisions among its members, it can be expected that information will be obtained about the decisions taken within one week after the meeting. In that case the period starts one day after the expiration of that week.
Explanation HR schematically shown:
Present at a meeting (or proxy) → 1 month after the meeting
Not present, no VvE announcement of decisions → 1 week to retrieve a decision, then 1 month
Not present, but permanent VvE announcement of decisions → 1 month after the decision was announced
If we look at the literal text of article 5: 130 paragraph 2 “within one month after the applicant has become aware or has been able to take cognizance”, the last part of this sentence seems to imply that quite a bit can be demanded of the individual VvE member to find out decisions as quickly as possible. With the judgment of the Supreme Court this picture is nuanced, so that in some cases the period will only start later. Moreover, this does not affect the fact that if an owner finds out earlier in another way that the period starts from that moment (eg because another member had already informed the owner). In that case it is up to the VvE to prove that the relevant owner was already aware.
If you also disagree with a decision of your VvE or you want to defend yourself as a VvE against objections from individual members, you can contact M2 Advocaten.
Lawyer Ginio Beij (firstname.lastname@example.org)