A common query from property investors is how do I navigate and understand my rights and responsibilities as a owner when it comes to body corporates.
So first of all, what is a body corporate? A body corporate (or a corporate body or corporation) is a legal entity such as a company, association, or an institution which can be identified by a certain name.
All owners of properties belonging to a development automatically become members of a body corporate. Consecutively, it is the duty of the body corporate to oversee all the common areas and amenities on behalf of all of its members such as parking areas, swimming pools, gardens and lifts.
Roles of a Body Corporate
The following is an exert from www.qld.gov.au:
The body corporate is given powers under the legislation to carry out its necessary duties.
The body corporate:
- maintains, manages and controls the common property on behalf of owners
- decides the amounts to be paid by the owners to make sure the body corporate can operate
- makes and enforces its own rules, called by-laws, which tell owners and other people who live in the scheme what they can and cannot do
- takes out insurance on behalf of owners, such as public risk insurance over the common property and building insurance
- manages and controls body corporate assets
- keeps records for the body corporate, including minutes of meetings, roll of owners details, financial accounts, registers of assets, improvements to common property by owners, engagements and authorisations.
The body corporate makes decisions about these and other things at general meetings and through the committee.
When you own a property that is part of a development, your activities can have an impact on the entire community which is why it is important that you are aware of your rights and responsibilities as a unit owner.
Responsibilities of Unit Owners
- Follow the rules set by the body corporate.
- Unit owners must pay their levies.
- Be considerate and cooperative with your neighbours in order to lessen conflicts and disputes.
- Common property should be utilised with care.
- Unit owners must keep their lot in good condition
- Are in charge of the maintenance of common property areas which they have exclusive use of
- Must conform with the by-laws that apply to the scheme
Knowing Your Body Corporate Rights
Body corporate meetings are generally complex and the only way to make the process less of a puzzle is when property owners have a full understanding of their important roles, as well as the rules that govern the meeting.
There are two types of body corporate meetings. A meeting that would require all owners to attend or alternatively, one that requires all committee members only to be present. According to the Sectional Titles Act, the body corporate is required to have a certain number of members to be present at the meeting. The meeting can either be formal or informal, although it is expected that the annual general meeting (AGM) is formal and that the form of proceedings should be somewhat strict. Additionally, the meeting of committee members is most likely semi-formal, only implementing strict formality when necessary.
In an AGM, committee members are duty-bound to call for an AGM anytime within the last four months of each financial year which would most likely be from November to February if, like in most cases, it starts from the first day of March. After the preparation and audit of all financial records and that the committee members have considered the statements, all members of the body corporate would be given a 14-day notice, informing them of the forthcoming AGM.
If owners are unable to attend the AGM, they can appoint anyone to serve as their proxy, may it be another owner, a trustee or even someone who is not associated with the body corporate. The owner’s representative will be entitled to have full voting rights on behalf of the property owner.