The History of body corporate is ever-changing. Over the last few weeks, we have delved into the past to review the transformation the industry has made. Part one started back in the 1930 to 1960 era when community living first emerged in QLD. It then covered 1960-1970 when multi-story dwellings and cluster housing were given direction through 2 new laws. Part two discussed the 1970- 1990 era where unregulated management rights and the Building Units and Group Titles Act were born. This article, Part 3 will look at 1995-2021 the welcome to modernisation of strata regulations, what issues are currently being reviewed and what the future holds.
1995 – 2021 | Welcome to the modernisation of strata regulations
An alternative to further changes to Building Units and Group Titles Act 1980 (BUGTA) was drafted, called Body Corporate and Community Management Act 1997 (QLD)[BCCMA] as an overarching law with four separate regulation modules which were designed for specific development types. The Standard Module for residential, the Accommodation Module for holiday letting and serviced apartments, the Commercial Module for commercial schemes and the Small Schemes Module for schemes with less than 6 lots. There were so many improvements increasing the transparency and accountability of service providers to bodies corporate and gave consumer protections. The dispute resolution process was rewritten and led to the appointment of a Commissioner for BCCM. Since 1997, the BCCMA has been amended several times, with notable key changes, outlined in the table below.
In 2014 the Government reviewed strata rules and by-laws, debt recovery and scheme termination and produced a property law body corporate governance paper and in 2015 QUT report recommended changes to BUGTA in response to enduring disputes for earlier built staged developments, effectively aligning BUGTA with BCCMA procedures.
In 2021 administrative changes involving array of amendments, fixed some anomalies in wording, relaxed requirements for small schemes, communication and meetings could use electronic methods and minor fixes. There have also been changes in other legislative instruments such as the Building & Other Legislation (Cladding) Amendment Regulation 2018 which required bodies corporate with aluminium composite paneling to proceed through three steps for remedial works and improvements to smoke alarms under the Building Fire Safety Regulation2008 to name a few.
2022 | What issues are currently being reviewed?
There continues to be petitioning of the State Government rule makers from all stakeholders for more reforms. At present DJAG are reviewing the management rights in community title schemes as there are a growing number of issues surrounding the tenure of the contracts (up to 25 years), duties and responsibilities and the appropriateness of having a caretaker in specific schemes. Another area to be addressed is how to terminate a dysfunctional scheme (zombie schemes), where the cost of the bank to take possession to sell is less than their debt owing, leaving the lot abandoned. When this situation occurs several times in one scheme, few lot owners are raising funds for the many and costs get cut. Body corporate committees struggle on a pathway through this and due to limited funds are reluctant to spend money on a solution, hence rendering them like a zombie.
2022 | What does the future hold?
How many Queensland schemes are under the various legislation now? Believe it or not, there are still schemes under the now Corporations Act 2001 (Cth) and BUGTA that have not transitioned to BCCMA. Of the 51,000 schemes registered under the BCCMA:
- 58% were registered under the standard module (residential);
- 29% under small schemes module (<6 lots);
- 10% under the accommodation module (investment); and
- 5% under the commercial module.
The BCCMA in its current form allows bodies corporate to self-regulate and for the ½ million owners living in community living in Queensland, it remains unclear if lack of external regulation, even with the assistance of experienced body corporate managers, is the cure.
Archers have been supporting the Queensland strata industry since 1982, your expert in body corporate legislation. Following in the footsteps of our founder Mr Colin Archer, who has been and continues to be an advocate for fairness, transparency and providing quality support to clients in the industry.
We anticipate more law reform to continue to meet the evolving needs of the growing amount of Queenslanders who live in community living. Archers are proudly owned and operated by Queenslanders, for Queenslanders and we are your expert in navigating the intricacies of managing a body corporate.
1 Property Law Act 1974 and BCCMA 1997 investigation
This article was contributed by Nicky Lonergan, Managing director Archers the Strata Professionals.