BCCM Report

Seminars give clarification of tenants’ status in a body corporate

I am pleased to announce planning is underway for the BCCM Office’s 2014 body corporate information seminars.

The seminar program will be conducted around Queensland in two stages. In March and April we will hold seminars in Brisbane and on the Gold and Sunshine coasts, and then early in the second half of the year we will conduct a seminar in Port Douglas.

As well as providing general information about bodies corporate and how to avoid and resolve disputes, the free seminars will also give an overview of dispute resolution applications including case management requirements (focussing on internal dispute resolution) and developing trends in by-laws. We will also provide some information on the government’s property law review and the one-stop-shop initiative. Current and prospective owners, occupiers, committee members, and anyone else involved in community titles schemes are invited to attend.

Details of the seminars and how to register will be provided on our website at www.justice.qld.gov.au/BCCM and will be sent to our common ground subscribers.

Of course you don’t need to wait for a seminar to get more information on body corporate issues. Our website has a wide range of publications and online training modules. And our knowledgeable information service staff can respond to individual queries about the body corporate legislation on free call 1800 060 119 or in writing.

Tenants in community titles schemes – It is apparent from a number of dispute resolution applications and enquiries to the BCCM Office information service that there may be a perception that a tenant cannot raise matters of concern directly with the body corporate but should rather take such matters to their managing property agent (if any). This view is not supported by the act.

It is clear that the Body Corporate and Community Management Act 1997 recognises occupiers of lots and confers on them many of the same rights and responsibilities as the owners of lots in the scheme. An occupier can include the lessee of a lot.

Section 35 of the act states that if the occupier of a lot is not the lot’s owner, a right the owner has under the act to the occupation or use of common property is enjoyed by the occupier. Occupiers including tenants can therefore enjoy the amenities of the scheme and are required to comply with the scheme’s by-laws just as they may seek recourse should they feel aggrieved at the failure of others to meet responsibilities in the scheme.

This may include for example a tenant’s concerns regarding maintenance of the scheme, the operation of by-laws and any other matter affecting the tenant.

Further recognising the obligations of the body corporate to occupiers as well as owners in a scheme is section 160 of the Body Corporate and Community Management (Standard Module) Regulation 2008, that provides that the body corporate may maintain a noticeboard for the display of notices and other material of interest to the owners or occupiers of lots in a suitable position on the common property.

In the case of Hunter Court [2012] QBCCMCmr 523, the adjudicator was considering whether a tenant was an “interested person” for the purposes of section 205(6) of the act which deals with access to records, and found that it is for a tenant to satisfy the body corporate that he or she has a proper interest in the information sought pursuant to section 205(6)(c) of the act.

The adjudicator went on to say: “I do not agree that the body corporate has no obligation to consider or respond to requests from tenants or to require tenants to communicate with the body corporate only through their property manager. There is no legislative authority for this stance, which gives rights and obligations to occupiers as well as owners. A body corporate and its committee must act reasonably. Where a tenant has a genuine interest (in) the operation or actions of the body corporate, because it has a direct impact on their occupation in the scheme, it would be quite unreasonable for the body corporate to refuse to communicate directly with the tenant.”

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