Sunday, April 5, 2009

Queensland Body Corporate - A system out of control

In the last twenty years or so there has been an explosion of communal developments in Queensland. These include gated communities, high rise unit complexes, townhouse developments and various other complexes where owners coexist in an environment that is managed by a Body Corporate.

The Body Corporate is usually controlled by owners and is intended to ensure that the common property is maintained, a set of by laws are in place and finances are managed.

So far, so good. The problem with all of this is that each Body Corporate is governed by a complex set of rules and regulations known as the BCCM Act.

Many owners who make the courageous decision to become involved in Committees find themselves embroiled in the tangled web of The Act that can make the smallest decision unnecessarily complicated.

Many Bodies Corporate find that they cannot survive without a Body Corporate Manager who provides a secretarial and accounting service to ensure that they comply with the regulations.

Others rountinely enlist the help of lawyers to unravel the complexities of The Act in dealing with disputes or contractual issues that plague Bodies Corporate.

Perhaps the greatest problem with the system is that the legislation is not properly enforced.

A Government department fronted by The Commissioner for Body Corporate hears and rules on disputes but no one actually polices the regulations unless a formal dispute has been lodged. The result is that many Bodies Corporate simply ignore the legislation usually through apathy and ignorance of the regulations.

Take the case of one complex of six units. Each owner shows no interest in the Body Corporate. They have no Body Corporate Manager. They do not hold meetings or keep records of any substance. One owner banks the levies and organises lawn mowing but little else is done.

This is all fine until something goes wrong. An insurance policy allowed to lapse, structural problems with the building, a dispute about use of the common property, etc etc can all result in a major problem for a Body Corporate who ignores the legislation and yet many Bodies Corporate meander along like an accident waiting to happen.

Other Bodies Corporate, with owners who take more interest in ensuring that their building functions within the law, struggle to cope with the endless amount of work that can result from simply looking after the best interests of the owners.

In many cases, developers install Caretakers into complexes with lengthy contracts to maintain the property. However there are little or no checks and balances as to whether the Caretakers have the ability, experience or desire to actually fulfill their obligations. If Bodies Corporate are not satisfied with the performance of the Caretakers they have to jump through hoops to resolve the issues due to the complexities of The Act.

As is so often the case, the Body Corporate Managers and the Lawyers thrive on all of this, lining their pockets as The Act becomes more complex.

In the coming months I will be highlighting some of the major issues that confront Bodies Corporate, including some Adjudications that can make living in a Community Title Scheme with a Body Corporate a nightmare and threaten to destroy a lifelong investment.

Watch this space


I have spent many years participating on a number of different Body Corporate Committees. I am a dealer in Vintage Movie Memorabilia specialising in original movie posters and movie art. also present a radio programme on Jazz Radio 94.1fm Monday - Friday afternoons on the Gold Coast.

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