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A Quick Guide to Enforcing Body Corporate By-Laws

Body corporates thrive when there are clear, enforced rules and laws. Sadly, not everyone likes to obey the rules and disputes do erupt. That can be anything from noisy neighbours through to property damage all the way up to criminal activity.

Body Corporate Problems: 5 Areas Where They Go Wrong (mybodycorpreport.com.au)

Living life in any residential complex that is in close proximity to other people and has shared areas of use, requires cooperation and consideration to ensure a peaceful and enjoyable living environment is maintained by and for all. Behaviour or acts that cause a nuisance or disturbance to neighbours or other residents can quickly become a problem, so there are rules in place to help ensure all residents (owner-occupiers and tenants alike) are able to peacefully enjoy the use of their strata property, shared common areas and its facilities. During holiday periods like Easter and Christmas, living in close proximity becomes even more noticeable when more of us may be at home and entertaining guests. So it’s a good idea to be aware of the body corporate rules and make sure you and your guests comply out of respect for all and the enjoyment of all.

Each Body Corporate (also known as an Owners Corporation - depending on which state it is in) is governed in two ways - by legislation specific to its state or territory and through by-laws specific to each individual Body Corporate. By-laws may be originally decided by the developer who created the Body Corporate scheme and cover a wide range of topics, such as:

  • Parking
  • Noise
  • Damage to common property
  • Behaviour of occupiers and visitors
  • Appearance of lots
  • Garbage disposal
  • Keeping of animals
  • Use of recreational facilities
  • Maintenance of lots
  • Speed limits on shared driveways

All established, with the aim of protecting the body corporate, its residents and use of its amenities.

In Queensland these by-laws are documented in a Community Management Statement (CMS), which also provides details on exclusive use areas of common property and who pays for what, amongst a few other things. The by-laws are required to be adhered to by owner-occupiers, tenants and visitors and are to be enforced by the Body Corporate Committee.

All owner-occupiers and tenants should have a copy of the body corporate by-laws of the Body Corporate they reside in. However, as it is unlikely that everyone will be familiar with all the rules & regulations, there are a few things the Body Corporate can do to keep people informed. Here are a few examples:

  • signage at the swimming pool for stipulating hours of use
  • signage for parking spots reserved for visitors only
  • signage on roads regarding speed limits
  • signage in common areas reminding of noise limits or hours of use
  • reminders of rules in monthly newsletters or information notices
  • posting the rules in a public place like the lobby if in an apartment building

body corporate site manager

In complexes with an on-site manager, it is usually part of their responsibility to help manage and ensure residents and visitors are complying with all the strata by-laws. The on-site manager can help manage this process to avoid larger issues by:

  • monitoring compliance of the by-laws
  • noting any issues and letting the Body Corporate Committee know of any common issues
  • taking opportunities to informally remind residents of by-law rules
  • helping limit by-law abuse opportunities by locking pool areas or recreational areas, for example, when they are outside of operating hours per the rules

Any resident who is in a situation where they become affected by the non-adherence of the by-laws by a fellow resident can put a complaint in writing to the committee. Once a complaint is received by the committee, the committee may:

  • Issue a by-law breach notice
  • Set a date requiring the breach to be resolved or stopped
  • Apply for conciliation
  • Apply for adjudication of a dispute
  • Commence proceedings in a tribunal or court of competent jurisdiction

It is hoped that by issuing a by-law breach notice, the offending resident will take steps to address the issue once they are made aware firstly, that it is a breach, and secondly, that it is having a negative impact on other residents.

However, if this does not occur, the Body Corporate Committee has steps they can then follow to take it further, even to the point of legal action. It is important to note that the power of enforcement of the by-laws is held by the Committee who are elected annually by the Body Corporate. For a tenant that does not comply with the by-laws, it may be grounds for an owner or their agent to evict them. General tenancy agreement (Form 18a) | Residential Tenancies Authority (rta.qld.gov.au)

It is important that the Body Corporate ensures that the strata by-laws are relevant and necessary for their purpose of providing a harmonious living environment. Things that can affect their relevance and therefore possibly require changes to be made are:

  • changes to body corporate legislation
  • new technology (e.g. electric vehicle charging)
  • common requests (solar panels or air conditioning)
  • changes to pet policies
  • changes to local regulations or the development
  • removal of, or addition of a new service or feature (games room, pool, spa, bicycle storage)
  • the need to address common nuisances not yet covered in the by-laws

Making sure they are relevant will help residents support the rules and make them more likely to adhere to them.

Ace Body Corporate Managers are always ready to assist you should you have any concerns or questions about the by-laws in your complex.

Ace Body Corporate Management
Disclaimer: This is not advice and should only be referred to for general information purposes. Strata management contracts often vary, so we recommend you contact your local Ace manager for more information, or seek expert legal advice. This article is not intended to be personal advice, and you should not rely on it as a substitute for any form of advice.Ace Body Corporate Management offers this newsletter to clients to assist in updating them on company and industry news. The content within this newsletter is of a generic nature and may not be applicable to all owners corporations. Ace Body Corporate Management attempts to provide the most up-to-date and accurate information for our clients. However, we strongly recommend that individuals and committees seek further advice before acting on any information in this newsletter.