Body Corporate Basics for Property Managers
If you are managing a unit or townhouse, or any other type of property that forms part of a community title scheme, then you will have been appointed by the owner of that particular property to let and manage their ‘lot’. Each lot forms part of a greater complex consisting of additional lot(s) and common property such as foyer, pool, gymnasium, lifts and driveways.
Although the legislation surrounding Body Corporate is quite complex and may not be a particular area of expertise for a property manager, it is essential that property managers know some body corporate basics.
Who or what is the Body Corporate?
Every owner collectively forms part of the Body Corporate, when buying into a community title scheme an owner automatically becomes a member of the body corporate – this is not something they can choose to ‘opt out’ of.
Decisions are made by the Body Corporate through a system of meetings and voting which can be as infrequently as once a year but that vary depending on the respective Body Corporate requirements.
Who makes up the Body Corporate Committee?
The Body Corporate Committee is made up of between 3 and 7 elected members who can consist of:
- the lot owners,
- nominated relatives of lot owners, or
- Individuals appointed under power of attorney by lot owners.
The Committee will include a Chairperson, a Secretary, and a Treasurer, and it takes care of the administrative and day to day running of the Body Corporate.
Who appoints the Body Corporate Manager?
The Body Corporate may appoint a specialist body corporate manager to manage the affairs of the Body Corporate, to conduct the following:
- If there is a committee—to perform some or all of the powers of the executive members of the committee and/or to assist the committee; or
- If there is no committee—to carry out functions in place of the committee.1
What legislation applies to Body Corporate matters?
The relevant Queensland legislation that applies to the establishment and operation of a Body Corporate is the Body Corporate and Community Management Act 1997 (BCCM Act).
Furthermore, the Office of the Commissioner for Body Corporate and Community Management (BCCM) provides a range of services to assist body corporate members, their committees, and industry groups, to help them better understand body corporate legislation, to avoid and resolve disputes. They can be contacted by phone 1800 060 119 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
What are Body Corporate By-Laws?
These are a set of rules that provide owners and tenants (if the property is rented) with the rights and responsibilities of all parties. These “rules” relate to the use of the property, common areas and any facilities.
A body corporate can make a “by-law” on an issue that is permitted under the BCCM Act as long as they are not inconsistent with the BCCM Act or any other legislation.
Examples of common by-laws are:
- use of facilities (pools, laundry facilities, lifts, gyms, lobby, parking areas)
- damage to common property,
- obstructing other residents,
- bins and rubbish,
- vehicles and parking,
- appearance of the lot (including putting up signage, or flags, or hanging towels on balcony railings),
- balconies and courtyards,
- behaviourof invitees and guests,
- storage of goods,
- regulation of aspects that are the potential cause of dispute between people livingin thecomplex.
Body Corporate By-laws and the Tenant
Under section 52 of the Residential Tenancies and Rooming Accommodation Act 2008 (RTRA Act), any Body Corporate by-laws that are in force and that apply to the tenant, are taken to be included as terms of the general tenancy agreement.
Section 69 of the RTRA Act requires the lessor or agent to provide a copy of the Body Corporate by-laws no later than when the tenant is being given their tenancy agreement for signing. Item 16 of the Form 18a General Tenancy Agreement should be completed to show that there are Body Corporate by-laws, and that these have been provided to the tenant.
What happens if by-laws are breached
A body corporate is responsible for enforcing its own by-laws although owner/occupiers can also take action towards enforcing these by-laws. How the steps to enforcement are followed depends on who is enforcing the by-laws.
The Body Corporate (via the Committee or appointed manager) can try to resolve the matter informally direct with the person. However, if that does not resolve the issue, the Body Corporate can then issue the relevant contravention notice to the person breaching the by-laws.
If the person breaching the by-laws is a tenant, then the contravention notice is served by the Body Corporate directly to the tenant, and the notice will name the tenant as the person who is breaching the by-laws – not the lot owner or managing agent.
To learn more about body corporate, sign up for the next REIQ Academy webinar on Tuesday 4 May 2021. Get the answers to all your questions from industry experts and learn what you need to know when dealing with body corporates.