Brisbane landlords, Brisbane's sales market

Finding a happy medium in the world of body corps

Ever been along to your building’s AGM? They’re not usually an especially entertaining event, and staying awake can be tricky during discussion on levies, insurances and debates like who-the-heck-is-supposed-to-clean-the-pool… But, like it or not, making good decisions on your body corp is important to you and your property. Frustrated your levies are high? Annoyed by unclean lifts? Keen to have a pet? It’s time you put your hand up for your body corp committee or, at the very least, attend or send a voting paper for the annual meeting.

You might prefer to not have to think about it, but the way some of these meetings are run is concerning. One inner-Brisbane building held their AGM in December but couldn’t get a quorum (minimum 25% of owners). That’s not unusual unfortunately but when they adjourned the meeting they had 4 voting papers submitted – from 191 owners! With no-one getting involved how can effective decisions get made? How can diverse views be considered?

The government has an ongoing review of the body corp law with a new call for the public’s input. Should owners be able to vote online? Get their paperwork by email or a secure portal? Attend meetings by phone/video? These are some of the questions being asked and we’d encourage you to have a say. The Body Corporate and Community Management Act has been dusted off several times since its 1997 commencement but with the huge growth of apartment living there’s more opportunity for confusion and conflict than ever before.

Last year’s discussion paper asked if 75% of owners should be able to commit the whole building to a redevelopment – a forced sale for all. This latest review prods further on how the Act can protect owners’ rights while allowing a body corp to get on with the job of running a building. Should one single owner be able to stop the body corp granting you exclusive use over a courtyard or carpark? (They can now). What about adjusting lot entitlements, all owners’ share of expenses – should the decision be unanimous or just a majority vote?

The review asks us to consider how balance can be reached. “Given the emphasis on communal arrangements and the self-management of communities, the question as to whether one individual in the community should be able to completely thwart the will of the majority of individuals in the community is extremely relevant.”

As agents busy selling and renting inner-Brisbane apartments we hear plenty of frustration from owners who feel their body corp isn’t doing the right thing. But we don’t often see these people at the AGM. Every body corp is a mini democracy and whether you like it or not you’re one of its members. (If you’re lucky enough to be led by an benevolent dictator you are indeed blessed!) Most buildings are run by a couple of owners prepared to step up and volunteer their time.

Please consider getting involved and encourage your neighbours to do the same. The pay is rubbish and it can require patience you didn’t know you had. But it’s important.