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OWNERS CORPORATION NETWORK

Mary McLean is a member of the Owners Corporation Network, the national organisation for unit owners. Mary encourages unit owners to consider joining this owners’ self-help and advocacy group.

OCN was established in February 2002 when representatives of a number of large, recently completed strata buildings found they had common challenges – building defects, expensive insurance, noisy neighbours – and wondered how best to manage the complex beast called ‘cooperative living’.

OCN is a network of owners helping owners – people who have experience in strata living; who have confronted many of its inherent problems; and who have evolved strategies for dealing with the problems that the rapid growth in apartment, villa and townhouse living inevitably brings. Our expertise is based not only on knowledge and experience, but on empathy – we understand the emotional impact of strata issues, as well as the legal, social and financial implications of living under a different set of rules from those that apply to free-standing homes. The issues faced by the owners also impact on residents – the building defects, poor governance, uncooperative neighbours and high rents due to high levies – and OCN speaks up for the whole strata community.

People can find out more about OCN through their website www.ocn.org.au


Changing Body Corp Managers

The day-to-day management of a strata complex works best when there is a friendly, harmonious relationship between Committees and their Body Corporate Manager. Occasionally there are personality conflicts or business service issues that cannot be resolved by negotiation with the parties.

If the conflict is not to do with clashing personalities and is based by continuing poor performance or sloppy administration and continues after your committee has complained repeatedly, a change in body corporate management may be the best answer.

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Consultation on Proposed Reforms

Body Corporate and Community Management Regulations – Consultation on draft legislation

Consultation closing date extended to 1 December 2019.

The community and stakeholders are invited to have your say on proposed reforms to regulations under the Body Corporate and Community Management Act 1997 (the BCCM Act).

Most bodies corporate in Queensland are community titles schemes registered under the BCCM Act. The Act permits the creation and operation of community titles schemes in Queensland. There are also 5 regulation modules, which set out more detailed laws that bodies corporate must follow.

Learn more about the current regulation modules and which regulation module applies to your community titles scheme.

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Air Conditioning

The Body Corporate or a lot owner in a community titles scheme can make improvements to the common property, if they are approved.

There is increasing interest in installing air conditioning in Queensland complexes. As property prices increase, the impetus to increase value by renovating has increased and improving facilities through air conditioning is very popular.

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Insurance

The insurance a Body Corporate must have is affected by the type of survey plan the scheme is registered under.

The two common types of survey plan are:

  • Building Format Plan
  • Standard Format Plan

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Disputes and Adjudication

You can only make an adjudication application if you (as the applicant) have tried self resolution and in most cases attempted conciliation with the Office of the Commissioner for Body Corporate and Community Management (the BCCM office).

If the dispute is about a matter that is not suitable for conciliation or the conciliation may not have resolved the dispute, the matter can be dealt with by adjudication. An adjudicator has wide powers under the BCCM Act to rule on disputes.

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Committee Planning Calendar

For smaller self-managed complexes, this committee planning calendar is very handy.

The financial year for a body corporate is not always the same as the tax year (1 July to 30 June). The financial year for your body corporate is determined by either the year the body corporate was set up or by the date of the first annual general meeting.

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Conciliation

Conciliation is a process by which a trained Commissioners Office alternative dispute resolution practitioner encourages the parties to come up with a suitable solution to the matter, a solution that is possible under the Body Corporate and Community Management Act.

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Noise and Nuisance

The Queensland govt has nuisance laws to help make Queensland a more liveable place. The laws aim to strike a balance between protecting our quality of life and the reasonable pursuit of activities that have the potential to annoy others.

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Writing Motions for Meetings

Any lot owner can submit a motion to be considered at a general meeting. Lot owners are invited to submit their motions when the initial notice of meeting is sent out.

This is an important opportunity for lot owners, particularly people who are not on committees to have their inputs. If you really believe, for example, that the barbecue needs to be replaced, here is your opportunity to submit a suitable motion accompanied by two quotes and an explanatory schedule explaining just why people should vote for the motion.

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Matters after the end-of-financial-year

The secretary needs to

  • Acknowledge the nominations for committee position
  • Consult with the treasurer for audit arrangements (if an audit was agreed to at the previous AGM)
  • Call a committee meeting to discuss and approve a proposed budget for the administrative fund and for the sinking fund to submit at the AGM. That meeting should also finalise the agenda for the AGM.

Maintenance of the Complex

Committee members and owners who want to work out just who is responsible for what maintenance items in a complex are encouraged to obtain a copy of two handouts from the Commissioners Office “Maintenance of Common property and lots” and “Maintenance Issues” which has a useful question and answer format.

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Duties of the secretary

If a Body Corporate Management firm has been engaged many of the secretary’s duties will be undertaken by the the Body Corporate Manager for your complex, acting with the authorised powers (really on behalf of) the elected secretary.

The contract that your complex has with the Body Corporate Manager will detail just which services that will be performed on behalf of the elected secretary.

It is important to note that the elected secretary has the responsibility to oversee that the Body Corporate Manager has performed the duties. The Body Corporate Manager should not be in charge – they are meant to work for, and with, the elected executive committee. The Body Corporate Manager, in turn, under the Code of Conduct provisions, may have their contract terminated if they do not carry out the role professionally and if they do not demonstrate a reasonable knowledge of the Act and Regulations.

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New Fire Regulations Impose More Obligations

Most bodies corporate have quite severe new obligations under the Building regulations of the Fire Safety Act. The Queensland government has apparently reacted to horrifying situations where people living in close community have died (such as the Childers backpackers fire) by imposing stricter fire safety regulations on all people who occupy multiple dwellings. At first glance many of these obligations seem a bit over-reactive, however the more people consider their obligations to fellow citizens properly, the more sense they become.

We encourage all committee people to make sure their complex complies with the laws, particularly the new fire regulations. It would be hard to live with yourself if you have a tragedy and had previously ignored statutory duties.

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Health and Safety Inspections

In this increasingly litigious society, bodies corporate have to take safety very seriously. Under workplace health and safety legislation, owners of premises have specific obligations to maintain their property to minimise the potential for accidents to occur (called officially minimising risks) In practice this means commonly minimising the chances of slips, trips and falls

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Check Your Personal Liability – Unpaid Levies

If you are a committee member of the body corporate, we recommend that you check that the insurance cover for your building covers adequate office-holder liability insurance (also known as office bearers’ insurance).

If A Lot Owner Owes Body Corporate Levies

If levies are not paid on time, the whole body corporate suffers. There will not be enough money to cover the costs of maintaining the complex.

It is important that bad debts are attended to promptly.

Continue reading “Check Your Personal Liability – Unpaid Levies”




Settle Legal Problems Early

The liability of a body corporate is unlimited. A Gold Coast newspaper article some years ago alerted those of us on committees to be very concerned about the possibility of escalating legal costs.

The report was of a case where a high rise body corporate (apparently through a decision of a committee chairman) had been ordered to pay costs of $200,000 to settle the dispute. Raising an extra $200,000 in levies is a frightening extra impost for owners and would be most difficult for the committee to explain.

A lawyer in that report stated that because the liability for bodies corporate is unlimited “bodies corporate should think hard before entering litigation”


Possibility of Defamation

Owners are alerted to the danger of defamation at general meetings and committee meetings

The law of defamation enables people to protect their reputation by taking legal proceedings, often called defamation proceedings, against others whose actions or words are claimed to have damaged their reputation (Definition Source NSW ICAC)

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Know the Body Corporate laws in Qld

Reflections of Port Douglas

BE CONFIDENT & KNOWLEDGEABLE AT MEETINGS

ONE, EASY-TO-READ, A4 BOOK WITH MANY OF THE QLD LAWS AND REGULATIONS THAT A BODY CORPORATE COMMITTEE AND MANAGEMENT SHOULD KNOW AND USE

*** The Amendments to the Body Corporate Legislation are anticipated early 2020. Watch this space for when updated version of the Laypersons Guide will be available.

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