by Trevor Rawnsley, CEO, ARAMA
28th September, 2017
Property Law Review set to modernise industry
Living in a high-density residential environment opens the door to a whole new style of residence that is quite different to owning or renting a stand-alone house; the primary difference being the by-laws, or rules, that govern each development.
Set by the owners, the by-laws/rules are unique to each building and generally cover issues like access to common property (such as pool opening times), permitting pets, dealing with nuisance or hazardous smoking, visitor parking and even helping owners corporations address noise and overcrowding.
In Queensland, the body corporate is responsible for enforcing its by-laws and the committee, as the administrative arm of the body corporate, is usually responsible for ensuring all owners and occupiers comply with the by-laws. The range of administrative and procedural requirements relating to the running of a body corporate fall under the Body Corporate and Community Management Act 1997 (BCCM Act).
In New South Wales, owners corporations determine the by-laws that suit the preferred lifestyle of the strata scheme and may not be restrictive or oppressive. All NSW strata schemes must review their by-laws by 30 November 2017.
In Victoria, the rules for the control, management, use or enjoyment of common property and lots are based on the set of model rules outlined in the Owners Corporations Act 2006.
During the past decade, the national management rights industry has undergone major changes, and in Queensland the BCCM Act is in the process of being examined by the Commercial and Property Law Research Centre within the Queensland University of Technology (QUT). Part of its review has been released for public consultation.
Due to the breadth and complexity of property law in Queensland, the review is being conducted in stages, and in this - the second phase of three - QUT has made 64 recommendations in its report, Government Property Law Review - Final Recommendations - Procedural Issues Under the Body Corporate and Community Management Act 1997 including proposed changes to address common concerns of lot owners, the streamlining and modernisation of administrative processes, the reduction of red tape, ways to improve transparency in decision making, facilitating legislative compliance and increasing consumer protection.
Before making any decisions about possible changes to the current laws on procedural aspects of body corporate governance, however, the government has requested community and industry views on QUT’s recommendations.
The continuing growth and diversity of the density living property industry requires ongoing review and the involvement of all community members and understandably, their practical knowledge of the operational process is a vital element to the development of good workable legislation.
The position paper, compiled in conjunction with a Strata Industry Umbrella Group, is very recognisable and, in general terms, is almost identical on 63 of the 64 issues – a clear indication that government has listened to the industry and that the proposed changes will be reflective of what is required.
In fact, the only point that appears to be unaligned at this stage is the concept of equal voting rights on committees for lot owners and residential managers. Currently, residential managers are eligible to vote at general meetings but not at a committee level, and this divisive issue - deemed discriminatory and unfair - is certainly one that is actively being reviewed.
In the past, ARAMA members have been very involved in
the legislative review process
and we will continue to ensure that members have access to
the published material and be involved in the preparation of
the ARAMA submissions to the various aspects of this significant landmark review. We will also continue to keep members, and through them the owners of properties, informed
on the progress of the legislative program.
ARAMA and a number of other industry stakeholders will be providing further submissions to the study group, which will then present its recommendations to the Queensland government in the preparation
of amending legislation.
As we all have a vested interest in retaining value in the industry and the anticipated economic impact that changed legislation will bring, I urge all stakeholders to stay engaged and participate in how the industry grows.