Last updated 16 August 2016
The Body Corporate and Community Management Act 1997 (Qld) (Body Corporate Act) governs the rights of owners of townhouses and home units. This Act provides for a community management statement that can be searched and which accurately sets out the scheme and future developments that may impact on the lot in question.
Although the Body Corporate Act seeks to provide consumer protection, the legislation itself is quite complex, and consumers should obtain legal advice before proceeding with a purchase of a townhouse or unit. In turn, community title complexes may find it more and more compelling to employ body corporate managers as independent people to assist in the management. The owner of a lot in a community title scheme will have title to the lot. A duplicate certificate of title can be issued if requested (if the mortgagee consents). The lot may be sold, leased or mortgaged as if it were an individual block of land but is subject to the provisions of the Body Corporate Act as they relate to the operation of the body corporate and the by-laws of the community title scheme.
The body corporate
The Body Corporate Act constitutes the owners of the individual lots into a legal entity called the body corporate. The body corporate has a range of duties including insuring and maintaining the building. It also has powers to impose levies on individual lot owners in order to carry out its functions.
The Body Corporate and Community Management (Standard Module) Regulation 2008 (Qld) (Body Corporate Regulation) provide for a number of separate modules including the standard module, small schemes module, accommodation module, commercial module and the specified two-lot schemes module. The Body Corporate Regulation applicable to each of the separate modules contains by-laws regulating the manner in which the body corporate operates and also set out rules for individual lot owners. These rules mainly regulate conduct affecting the enjoyment by other lot owners of their properties.
The body corporate is equipped with power to amend and add to these by-laws. As issues of this type can be complicated, expert assistance should be sought to ensure that the correct form of resolution is passed.
The decision-making procedure for the body corporate is set out in the Body Corporate Act and the relevant Body Corporate Regulation.
Disputes between the body corporate and individual lot owners are resolved using the methods set out in the Act. The Commissioner for Body Corporate and Community Management can play a significant role in many of these disputes.