3 Common Body Corporate Committee Issues That Will Affect All Lot Owners

Body corporate committee

It’s a common myth that the body corporate manager is in charge of a body corporate, so much so that it often comes as a surprise for those new to strata schemes that it’s actually a Committee who have the power and responsibility; well the Committee along with all the lot owners.

One of the offshoots of that belief is the idea that the scheme is being professionally managed. But that is not the case at all. Committee’s are made up of lay people who do the best they can with the knowledge and resources they have.

And for the most part they do a good job. After all no one has as much invested as the lot owners.

There are a few common issues that come up though that may hamstring management and eventually impact all the lot owners. This article is a discussion of those problems.

1. There is no Body Corporate Committee

It’s common to have a Committee that’s made up of only two or three people. It’s even reasonably common to see one person shouldering all the responsibility, but it’s very rare to see a scheme where absolutely no one will act as Committee.

It’s rare because having no Committee is a nightmare for body corporate managers. Consequently they usually make plenty of effort to convince some lot owner, any lot owner, to get involved.

Imagine running a business where there is no one to report to, no one to get instruction from and you actually have no power to make any decisions. But yeah, go ahead and keep the business going, deal with any problems and answer any questions. Sounds like a nightmare to me.

A body corporate can actually appoint a body corporate manager to be their Committee, but again it’s not something that happens very often.

That’s because, if there is no Committee is usually because no one has bothered to nominate, no one turned up for the AGM and in some cases no one even bothered to vote. If no one votes a Committee won’t be elected and neither will the manager be appointed to act.

This problem actually has much greater implications for lot owners than the frustration of the Manager.

If no one votes levy cannot be issued, and if no levies are issued no funds will accumulate.

That results in no works getting done.

It doesn’t take long for buildings to start to decay, particularly buildings with common areas that no person is specifically responsible for.

First the scheme will becomes dirty. The dirtier it gets the less care residents will take and if no repairs are undertaken the building quickly becomes run down. Eventually, if no one does anything the building may become derelict.

And yes, this cycle really does happen.

As the common property deteriorates the value of the lots becomes less and less. Even at a cheaper price the lots will become very difficult to sell. Not many people are prepared to take on someone else’s mess.

What to do if no lot owner wants to be on the Committee?

Turning a blind eye and ignoring things is not a good way to sustain your investment.

If you can offer even some time then volunteer for the Committee.

If the scheme genuinely cannot find anyone to be on the Committee then appoint a body corporate manager. It will involve a general meeting motion (where owners will need to vote) a separate agreement and a substantial increase in costs.

It can be very expensive to recover from an extended period of neglect. The best way to combat is not to let it happen in the first place.

2. The Body Corporate Committee are pursuing their own agenda

It’s important to remember that body corporates are closed systems, meaning they may do whatever they choose to do so long as it’s consistent with legislation and case law and isn’t illegal.

And the Committee is in charge of this system.

Their role is to enact the motions the combined lot owners have resolved.

Any lot owner can propose a motion and, if the motion is supported with the correct documentation, has a good chance of getting that motion passed.

Despite that, in most cases the Committee is driving what does or doesn’t get done around the scheme and that’s largely because they’re the people who’re being briefed on everything.

That is their purpose, to be the “brain” of the scheme, the people who’re collectively seeing and hearing all, the decision makers.

In some cases though those decisions may not be in the best interests of all the lot owners, or even the majority of lot owners.

For instance, the Committee may be more invested in keeping levies low than undertaking needed repairs and upgrades.

Or conversely, endlessly upgrading and driving levies higher and higher.

And there are many, many cases where works have been prioritised to suit a Committee member rather than necessity.

These are simple examples of things that happen often but the only limitations on this stuff is the willingness of any Committee to push the envelope.

What to do if the Committee is pursuing its own agenda?

The only policing provided for body corporates is that provided by the lot owners themselves.

So police already.

Read the Committee meeting minutes. Make written complaints about repair and maintenance issues and look for that correspondence to be discussed in the minutes. Talk to the Committee and / or the Manager if you have questions.

Vote on motions at general meetings yourself rather than appointing a proxy and take the time to understand the implications of what you’re voting on.

Get to know your fellow lot owners and discuss what’s happening with them. It’s likely if you have queries then so will they.

3. The Body Corporate Committee is at war with itself

You cannot please all of the people all of the time.

That’s actually one of the fundamentals of body corporates and why there is such a plethora of legislation and case law on the subject. Struggles for supremacy, or the right to do it my way, are a way of life in strata schemes.

It’s also the basis for voting. Quite simply the majority rules. It’s a confrontational system that actually works quite well most of the time.

The only problem with a confrontational system is that in most cases there will be a winner and a loser. And people being people and not machines, well let’s just say tensions can result.

In day to day life in the scheme that’s not necessarily a problem.

When it spills over onto the Committee it’s much more problematic and you get the kind of power struggle we’re seeing at the moment in Australian politics. Each side blames and criticises the other and far more time and attention is spent on knocking down the opponent than actually getting on with the business of running things.

Disputes between Committee members lead to additional running costs and higher levies for body corporates.

If one faction is in power the other faction will try and sabotage their resolutions.

If the balance of power in the Committee changes there’s the chance that decisions implemented by one faction will be reversed.

If the disputes become too acrimonious then applications can be made for adjudication, which in itself is not costly, however each application, each around 50 pages long, must be forwarded to every lot owners in the scheme, which soon adds to the bottom line.

Some competition and debate is healthy, even useful, however in these situations it’s not uncommon to see verbal and written name calling, slander accusations and even physical confrontations.

Essentially wars between different factions waste everyone’s time, energy and money.

What to do when the Committee is at war with itself?

This is a difficult situation. How do you get involved without seeming to take one side or another and inadvertently fuelling the arguments?

This is not my area of expertise and I’ve never actually seen a body corporate that’s managed to successfully deal with this situation quickly. Usually one side or the other will gain power as lot owners come and go and the Committee moves forward slowly and acrimoniously.

I’d love to hear from anyone who has dealt with this issue. Please let me know.


The above are common examples of issues derailing Committees and strata schemes all over Australia.

It’s tempting for lot owners to just roll their eyes, tut and say “why can’t they just get it together”. Unfortunately that’s ignoring the fact that you are one of the “they” and have a responsibility here as well. Perhaps it’s worth investing some time along with your money.

But for many lot owners the idea that someone else is taking care of things is worth any downside, although that attitude might be a little short sighted.


A little knowledge can go a long way

I see so many stressful and frustrating issues in body corporate records that result from simple misunderstandings it hurts my head. If I could do one thing to help it would be to teach everyone the basic rules, so they can avoid all these dramas.

With that in mind I've put together a short eBook that sets out the basics everyone owning in a body corporate really should know. It won't make those big issues go away, but it will give you a firm grounding from which to communicate.

It's completely free, so please, download it now!

Download Now


  1. Lesley Kerr says:

    Dear Lisa
    I live in a three lot townhouse complex. I have nominated myself for treasurer but the current secretary has nominated herself for both treasurer and secretary. She then has initiated a motion to pay a BCM to perform the duties associated with the two roles with the payment to the BCM to come from body corporate funds.
    The other owner will agree to anything the secretary wishes.
    If I took this to adjudication do you think the adjudicator would rule that the BC has acted unreasonably? That is, denying me a position on the executive committee??

    • Hi Lesley

      If there are only three lots in the scheme I don’t think one person can take both committee positions (I’m assuming a small schemes regulation module here) and at the same time keep another owner from being part of the committee. Yes that does sound unreasonable. I would think it is to be embraced if other owners want to have a say.

      The appointment of a body corporate manager should be an ordinary resolution at general meeting. The committee does not have the power to appoint or authorise payment to a BCM.

      That said, if the other two lot owners vote to do that there isn’t a lot you can do about it. If you objection is to the BCM then it sounds like you might be overruled. Perhaps, if you have time, you could propose an alternative suggestion?

      • Lesley Kerr says:

        Thanks Lisa. It is the standard module. I asked in the past for records and for some gardening work to be done the rear of the complex which was met with a defiant attitude from the then acting Treasurer (who was not a lot owner by the way) and the Secretary. I took the BC to conciliation and it was agreed that a non lot owner could not be on the committee. The non lot owner treasurer has now resigned. However the situation is as above, I have nominated myself for treasurer but one owner (current secretary) has nominated herself for both secretary and treasurer, the other owner for chairperson. It is an obvious attempt to keep me off the committee. I cannot find anything in the legislation that does not permit this. It seems so silly to nominate for two voluntary positions then engage a BCM to do the job for you?? Especially when I will perform the treasurer’s role voluntarily. Is there something in the standard module which precludes one owner being on the committee in two positions I cannot seem to find anything.

        • Hi Lesley

          In a scheme with only 3 lots then can’t keep you off the committee. You might not be on the executive committee, as in Treasurer, Secretary or Chairperson but then you would be an ordinary member and you vote still counts equally. The scheme must have 3 voting members. One person may hold multiple positions but you’d still be a member.

          It seems bloodymindedness to me that they would try and hold two executive positions when there are 3 willing members. Please see the regulations below.

          From the standard module regulations:
          9 Composition of committee
          (1) The committee consists of—
          (a) the persons chosen to be the executive members of the
          committee; and
          (b) if ordinary members are chosen for the committee—the
          ordinary members; and
          (c) each person who is a non-voting member of the
          (2) The one person may hold the positions of chairperson,
          secretary and treasurer, or any 2 of the positions, in
          (3) Subject to subsection (4), the committee must consist of the
          required number of voting members for the committee.
          (4) Subsection (3) does not apply to a committee mentioned in
          section 13(4) or (5).
          (5) There must be a chairperson, secretary and treasurer, whether
          or not there is a body corporate manager who has been
          authorised by the body corporate under the Act, section 119 to
          exercise some or all of the powers of an executive member of
          the committee.

  2. Heather says:

    Hi Lisa

    I am desperate for some guidance please. The current committee of our scheme is very objectionable and unreasonable. For example, the caretakers had not taken care of an area of common property for many years and when a new caretakers came along, they cleared the eye-sore – the only problem is that the area is now a dirt pit and is the view from my unit (end unit alongside the common property). I asked if they would replant and they said no it’s not in the budget until 2018. I asked if I could provide some plants to the caretaker at no cost to bc and they said only if I accept, without limitation, liability for any and all damage that may occur as a result of the planting and/or growth. The colour of the weatherboard is icky green and very faded so I have been asking about whether they plan to stick with this colour or change (being that I will work with what they have if that’s the plan and it’s strata-standard format plan so not budgeted for in the sinking fund) but they said any changes I would like to make will be considered to detract from the aesthetic (I doubt it) of the property and won’t be supported but the property is in need of maintenance so even if I repaint the same colour, they could decide to go a different direction in the next year or two and I will forced to re-paint. They have also taken up replacing the timber fencing with cream colorbond fencing (which is such a contrast and ugly at best) and fully fencing in all the complex front yards (it’s so bad and looks so ugly) so I asked if there were other options as I did not want full privacy or steel fencing, they said no other options and they intend to continue. With all of this going on, I wrote to the committee and asked for their Masterplan – I said that the committee seem to have some very definite parameters that we need to work within so there must be an overall plan that they are working towards and can they please share it with me so I can understand their vision for the complex and work within that. They told me no further correspondence will be entered in to and the matters can be discussed at the next AGM (which is in March-April because I just bought the unit in April after their AGM).
    I have tried to call around to a few BC lawyers but no one will take on a lot owner as an individual. I have read as much as possible about the legislation etc but when it comes to committees it seems they can do what they want. How can I be heard outside of an AGM – once per year isn’t enough. No doubt I will get to the AGM next year and they will defer to the following year. I’m not sure why they behave this way.
    Any advice on how to navigate the committee. I have been left in tears every time I get stonewalled on what I feel is very reasonable questions.
    Thank you in advance.
    PS. finding this website has been the best thing to come out of all of this. It has provided me with so much information. Thank you

    • Hi Heather

      Thanks for your comment. Its unfortunately the process with body corporates that the committee “rule the roost” and lot owners are left in a position of asking for things to be completed and then only, as the say if it’s in the budget.

      You have two options here: submit motions for the AGM and / or nominate for Committee yourself. So long as your levies are paid in full you are eligible to do both.

      Getting onto the committee will put you in the thick of things and you’ll be part of the decision making process. You might still get stonewalled, depending on different factions, but it is the best way to influence a scheme. If you decide to go this way discuss matters with your fellow owners. I wouldn’t run down the present committee, merely share your ideas about how to improve.

      If there’s anything you specifically want done or decision made, such as a definitive idea about colour, put forward a motion at the AGM and see how other owners feel about it. Be aware your motion will be submitted as you write it so be clear, make sure it’s a question that can be answered yes or no and is in accordance with the act (sticky one that). If funds spent are necessary then obtain two or three quotes (depending on how much it costs) to submit with the motion and make it a motion with alternatives: ie motion to do something (yes or no) and if yes, pick which alternative.

      That’s my best advice. I hope it helps.

    • Heather, i am very surprised that you say a BC lawyer is not willing to take on an individual lot owner. As a lot owner i have been represented by a BC lawyer on two occasions. Cost me a lot of money but well worth it. Committees cannot do what they like and I have questioned our committee several times due to incorrect procedures. Yes, I have read, attended seminars etc for years and am quite confident of my knowledge and not afraid to question any action that I beleive is not within the legislation.

      • Hi HelenR

        I have been reading your comments with much interest. We have a deplorable Committee situation with a Chairperson/Treasure who is a bully! She has 2 friends on side on the committee. As there are only 6 committee members we get reaching stalemates as, if she votes NO – then her mates vote NO. She only keeps half of her committee informed on matters, on occasionally gets committee approval to spend money and/or pay invoices. She has made some pretty disparaging remarks about the other committee members as well.

        Her focus is to keep everyone divided – our gardens look terrible, a lot is not getting done and we are at screaming point. I would love to chat with you sometime on your experiences and the wins you have had with Committees. Please let me know if you would like to chat sometime.

        Many thanks

  3. Heather says:

    Thanks for your time Lisa. I guess even though the first AGM is almost 10months away I can take my time learning everything I need to know about committees, agendas etc.

    I might also petition policywriters to review how committees are run. I think at minimum, they should have to record all of their minutes and decisions outside of the AGM because almost all of the issues I have are decisions that were made outside AGM and as such there is no actual formally recorded minutes to support their decisions (including allocating themselves additional car parks!!). I wonder how this works with having a decision overturned because I think the law says that any decision overturned needs to be overturned in the same method as the decision was originally made which means until a different committee is on board then no other decisions could be challenged.

    Thank you again for your time and great bogs.

    • Ah…Heather, the Committee should be recording and distributing minutes of all meetings. If they are not then they are breaching the act.

      Also…a committee cannot allocate themselves carspaces! That is a decision for all owners by resolution without dissent.

      You can make an Adjudication application now to overturn those decisions.

  4. Hi Lisa,

    I am the resident manager (Caretaker) of a standard module . The building in the past year had its three lifts refurbished/upgraded. The key switches currently installed in all three lifts are:

    · Stop/Run Key Switch

    · Independent Key Switch

    · Fire Service Key switch

    · Lights/fan key switch

    The B.C. Committee has a service contract with the lift company for the fixing of lift faults. Since the upgrade and prior there have been many call-outs to fix lift faults. Recently a lift displayed a fault and the lift technician was to called in to rectify. Apparently according to the lift technician he advised that the lift in question was not in fault but someone had used the stop/run key switch and left the lift in the stop mode. The lift company sent the B.C. Committee an $800 account for the call-out because it concluded that such a call out involving the Stop/Run key switch was not part of the service contract and technically the lift was not faulty. The B.C. Committee has advised me that I am responsible for the account because it must have been me who put the lift into stop mode. For the record I cannot recall calling the lift technician for this service. In addition, I have never used the Stop/Run key switch. I always use the Independent Key Switch.

    Anyway, my question is – Can the B.C. committee insist that I pay for the call-out even though I acted in good faith. Please bear in mind that the B.C. and or lift company has never instructed Management on the use of all new Lift Keys including the stop/run keys and the implications of using these keys.

    Thank you

    • Hi Barry

      Thanks for your question. I must say that it’s a bit of a coin toss for me. I can see your point of view and that of the committee.

      In my opinion there has been no legislation breach by either you or the body corporate. It comes down to a “he said / they said” decision. If you don’t want to pay it and believe you are not responsible you can dispute the decision by seeking conciliation or adjudication to resolve.

  5. Hi Lisa
    This question emerged from a recent contract of sale issued for a property in Victoria: What happens in a body corporate of only two lots where there are no levies, no budget, no sinking fund, when the two lot owners don’t agree on maintenance and repairs?
    The only relationship between the two lot owners seems to be that they share the insurance premiums for the buildings, yet as one lot is on top of the other, there is clearly common property and potentially some issues.
    The property is still under 10 years old, but repairs and maintenance must become a problem if the lot owners don’t agree; for instance, if there is old guttering leaking into one lot owner’s property and the other is unaffected. I could foresee a situation where the unaffected lot owner won’t pay half of the cost of repair, or if the outside paint starts peeling off – one lot owner wants to repaint and the other says no. What happens?

    • Hi Lynne

      The lot owner who wanted to proceed would need to seek an Adjudicators Order that the works proceed. Just because you don’t want to contribute doesn’t excuse you from contributing. The body corporate has responsibilities that must be fulfilled and maintenance of common property is one of them. If the works are required to stop some form of loss, like damage to a lot, then the Adjudicator would likely order the body corporate to proceed with the works.

      If the body corporate has permission then the owner who wants the works done may proceed then instigate proceedings in the magistrates court on behalf of the body corporate against the other lot owner for either 1) non compliance with an Adjudicators order and / or 2) non payment of a contribution.

  6. Sashi Autar says:

    I have a town house in Morningside Qld. Over the last 4 years i have seen a trend from the body corporate where around xmas they claim to have sent a levies notice out to my email address. I have not receieved the email and as such i have gone into arrears. The levies compound and turn into thousands. I have made requests in the past for them to send an email with a read receipt. They refuse to do this. They cannot even provide me the sent email or date. They now tell me they cannot locate my last payment. I have had enough of this body corporate. What are my options?. Can i request for a different body corporate? Is there an ombudsman who i canngo to?

    • Hi Sashi

      Unfortunately there is no ombudsman to call. A body corporate is not a business, its a group of owners maintaining a property.

      The body corporate manager has specific outlines of how they are to issue and collect levies. There isn’t a lot of leeway to deviate.

      As an owner you may certainly put forward a motion at general meeting to appoint a new manager, assuming the current contact has expired. There are specific ways that must be done, including quotes from at least two, maybe three other providers, depending on the cost.

  7. Hi
    I have recently moved into a property in a gated community where bc fees where around $300 a quarter for gate and driveway maintenance. After 18 years, the bc now wants to replace the driveway and has increased the fees to over $1000 a quarter. The driveway is not in disrepair though the paint has deteriorated. I cannot afford this increase as I am on a pension and there was no indication of this issue when I bought my property. What can I do? There are others in a similar situation to mine.

    • Hi Chris

      Oh dear. Bad news I’m afraid. It sounds like your scheme might be having a levy correction. What that means is the body corporate has not increased the levies often enough over time to be able to accumulate enough to pay for capital works when they need to happen.

      It means owners before you have had a grace period for which you are now find yourself in a position of having to fund.

      Its the most common problem I sight in records, and, short of challenging the levies via Adjudication, there isn’t anything you can do.

  8. John Ralston says:

    Hi Lisa
    It has just come to light that the caretaker’s 3 lots have had no to little charges.for the electricity since he has been there (3 Years) The amounts have been from zero to $50 per lot per quarter compared to approx. $400 per lot for other owners. I suspect that his lots have the electricity wired in to the common area electricity.
    The caretaker reads the meters for every lot so would be familiar with how much every other owner is consuming but he has not made the committee or the BC manager aware of this anomaly. The BC manager also had not picked up on it. An owner had requested to see the electricity accounts spread sheet and made the committee and the BC manager aware.
    I believe that the caretaker’s conduct is fraudulent or at the very least dishonest as all of the other owners (through the BC fees) are picking up his bills. The committee who are very pro-caretaker are looking to overlook this and just get the wiring (if that is the case) reassigned correctly. I do not see that this is appropriate and goes to the character of the onsite caretaker. What is your opinion?

    • Hi John

      I think it is possible that the Caretaker was fraudulent. At the least it stretches credulity that they didn’t notice since they read the meters. It’s possible they did know but since it was for their benefit then did nothing. Its also possibly that it’s just a score for them.

      The problem is can you prove intention? Can you prove deceit? Without that taking any sort of action is not possible. Even recouping the amounts underpaid would be a mission of research and estimation.

      I know it seems dismissive but pragmatically I understand the need to sort it out and move on. What other choice does the committee have? They shouldn’t commit joint funds to a (probably) lost cause.

      I’d certainly be keeping in mind what sort of person the Caretaker is though and examining other issues more closely.

      • John Ralston says:

        Thanks Lisa
        To muddy the waters the onsite manager is requesting a large remuneration increase plus an extra 5 years on his term and exclusive use of the storage areas at the resort for his letting business. The AGM is in March 2017
        While this review of the electricity charging is ongoing can his request still be tabled at the AGM?
        I thought I read somewhere that if there is a breach being tabled that this cannot occur until remedied, but of course I can’t find it now.

        • Hi John

          If the Caretaker is a lot owner then so long as their levies are paid up to date they may submit a motion to be voted on.

          If they are not a lot owner then the committee or another owner may submit for them.

          • John Ralston says:

            Hi Lisa
            Three questions.
            The cut off date for motions to be submitted is Jan 31st in our scheme. Can a motion be submitted if it was not received until 17th Feb?
            Can the caretaker vote on his own motion for a remuneration increase?
            The committee has known of the remuneration increase since May 2016 but has not advised the owners until forced to by another owner last week. There has only been 1 minuted meeting since March 2016 and that was in early May. Is this reasonable committee behavior.



          • Hi John

            1) if the motion was submitted by an owner prior to end of financial year it can be included. If after the cut off date it should wait for the next general meeting. The committee motions for the upcoming AGM will be decided at the Budget Committee Meeting.

            2) if the Caretaker is a lot owner then yes they have a right to vote. If not then no, nor can they submit a motion.

            3) arguing reasonable or not is always a challenge. In many schemes the committee does not meet. If they have a ton of business and nothing is moving forward then yes, you could argue that’s unreasonable. What good it would do you though? Its not overturning a decision. Its poor communication. Unless you’re prepared to be on the committee yourself there’s little can be done to make your committee more effective.

            If the motion is late being submitted by the owner it should be excluded. Otherwise owners have the opportunity to vote on the issue at the general meeting.

  9. Our Over 50s freehold title estate has a residents committee that in general does a good job. I’m on it! However the committee is becoming increasingly “cliquey” and resistant to new ideas, with some members being on it for many years and I understand the frustrations of newer and younger residents who feel their needs are being ignored by an ageing committee that fears change yet is very hard to dislodge. I’d like to move that we adopt a policy limiting committee service to a set period – say three years. So everyone gets a go. Is this possible – and enforceable?

    • Hi Julie

      Limiting the committee service period is not provided for in the act.

      Essentially a committee is elected for one year. At the next AGM the committee is disbanded.

      Every eligible lot owner must be given the opportunity to run for and be part of the committee. You cannot discriminate between lot owners.

  10. Hi Lisa

    Can you suggest a definition for what constitutes a “Significant alteration” to common property? Can it include new furniture added by individual lot owners to common property or a change in aesthetic to a common reception area? Our Committee are voting to permit themselves to add their chattels to common areas – does this require special resolution?

    • Hi Tim

      I’m not sure what you mean by “significant alteration”. An improvement on common property for which the lot owner will be responsible would be something like installation of a shade sail or building a deck. Have a read here about improvements.

      The test with anything on common property is whether it will cause a problem for other persons. So if furniture is left on common property will it be a tripping hazard or block access or otherwise cause a problem. If yes then the scheme should not allow as it will impact on their duty of care.

  11. Hi Lisa
    My father lives independently at 90 years old in a 6 unit low set unit block. He is the only active committee member and one of only 3 owner occupiers. No one other than him is willing to vote on anything and even the most simple repairs are not being performed. They have a BCM but they have never been successful in getting any owners engaged. He has a damaged retaining wall in the rear of his unit that is getting to a dangerous stage and is worrying him to the point of sickness. How does he move forward as the unit is now not in a saleable state until this wall is replaced even if he wanted to, which he doesn’t as he is more worried about moving. This is starting to affect his ability to remain independent
    Thanks Julie

    • Hi Julie

      The first thing to do is establish if the retaining wall is body corporate responsibility or part of the lot. It could be either. If it’s part of your lot then your father is responsible and he should go ahead and do the works.

      If it’s part of common property and the body corporate is responsible then the best thing to do is obtain two quotes for rectification. Submit those quotes as a motion with alternatives to the body corporate at the next general meeting. Depending on how much funds the scheme has thought may need to be given to how the works are going to be paid for.

      If your father is the only person who votes, and he votes yes, then the works can proceed. If the other owners vote NO then the works cannot proceed. All is not lost though as if the area is common property the body corporate does need to fix it. If the other owners do not agree an application may be made for Adjudication seeking an order the wall is rectified.

      I know that seems like a big deal but take it one step at a time. Speak with the manager about whether the matter is lot owner or body corporate responsibility. That’s the best starting point. Or, either way just get some quotes to have it fixed. Taking small steps is the place to start.

      It is difficult when owners are apathetic and this is going to be an ongoing problem for your father, especially as he gets older. It sounds like the BCM is not the greatest. If there isn’t a valid committee a motion to appoint the BCM to act as committee under a part V appointment needs to be done. It will cost the owners more but the works will get done. Ask him to check if that motion is coming up. If it is, maybe it’s time to support the motion. Just a thought.

      • Thanks Lisa,
        We have the quotes and with your information we have spoken to the BCM and she is pushing a bit harder. Very frustrating but looking a lot more positive now.
        Thanks again for you advice it gave us the incentive we needed to stand up and not accept no as an answer.

  12. My Body Corp committee is starting to implode and I need quidance on how to proceed. The AGM has just happened and although I did not attend it was apparently acrimonious. People threatened to report each other to the Commissioner. The Manager threatened to take over. The Manager visted the Chairwoman and demanded she resign before the AGM! IS that not “unconscionable conduct”?
    The person now voted in as Treasurer lives interstate and does not attend meetings but is the main source of allegations. Another person who resigned from the committee had allegedly used her position to get her retired husband jobs around the site for small amounts of money. This person helped to get the new Treasurer voted in.
    Despite all this the committe had been very functional up until the AGM achieving a lot of building upgrades, wresting control back from the BCM and reducing fees. Now I fear they will just fight amongst themselves.
    How as a lot owner do I protect myself from a dysfunctional committee?

    • Hi Peter

      Excellent question. As an owner I’m afraid your only recourse is to keep a watch on what’s happening. Arguments do not necessarily mean the committee won’t remain high functioning: there’s nothing wrong with robust discussion on what to do, so long as once the decision is made everyone gets behind the outcome.

      If problems do arise then owner’s are in a position to band together and replace the committee. 25% of owners can request an EGM be called by submitting signed documentation and motions. I attended a meeting last week where the committee voted in at AGM were summarily dismissed and replaced at EGM. Its an option if things get out of control.

      The manager getting involved is not a great sign. Your manager is not in a position to take over: unless appointed by the owners to do so. And threatening the Chair is as you say, unconscionable conduct. It is worrying, but, it will take both the committee and owners working together to replace them.

      To reiterate: keep an eye on what’s happening. Some people thrive on drama and if they manage to keep having success then maybe their process works for them. If not, well, its possible that a trip to the Commissioner’s Office for conciliation might be helpful for your committee.

  13. I am part of a committee of three. A few months ago we were asked to vote on several motions – on checking, most of the jobs had already been done before the vote. One of the motions was for a resident to keep chickens (this is a communal over 50’s village) with garden units. The vote was 3-2 against. However the chickens are here and had been here all along living in the owner’s unit in the bathroom waiting for the vote. They are now in a coop outside the owner’s unit near the fence line and have been there for some time now. The owner also happens to be the Treasurer! How can this happen? I think they will attract rodents and snakes, not to mention the smell in summer. I actually went to look at the area where the chickens were to be kept before making my vote and found that it was too small an area and not suitable at all and felt it would be a nuisance to nearby residents. Why has this gone ahead when the vote was no.

    Another elderly resident has had her dear friend banned from visiting her because when walking her dog for her because she was ill, he did not pick up the doggy doo. However there is another resident here who allows his dog out each morning on its own to run around the village and do its business on footpaths, gardens, and even residents’ door steps…. and residents don’t want to tell the manager for fear of reprisal, ie not having lease renewed due to complaining (most people here are renting with only a few owner/occupiers).

    What can I do as a member of the committee. I want to make a complaint in writing to the manager regarding all of the above. He is the type of guy that many feel you must bite your tongue and stay on his right side.

    • Hi Jennifer

      This situation is everything I hate about bodies corporate – by-laws are applied inconsistently, committee members getting special dispensation and a manager who is unapproachable.

      As a committee member you need to escalate the chicken thing. The vote was NO. The chickens are there. The person is in breach of by-laws. A breach notice should be issued. Hopefully the other members of the committee who voted NO will support you. Keep a note of your interactions between other committee members and the manager because if the matter ends up in Adjudication you’ll be able to confidently say when and what was said.

      Its the same with the dog roaming. The dog owner needs to be breached.

      This is a challenging situation. Tread carefully and mindfully but do stand up for what you believe in. Find support where you can.

  14. Hi Lisa,
    I have just come onto the committee of management (in Victoria). There are no minutes from the past year’s meetings, most ‘meetings’ and decisions appear to be made by email, and a decision to accept a paint job to paint most of the exterior has been made, with levies raised to cover the works. A special resolution was not needed as the total amount is less than what is raised annually. I am concerned that this committee has not exercised due diligence – the accepted quote is for a ‘repaint’ but most of the building has never been painted – there is minimal preparation work planned prior to painting, and parts of the building are falling into disrepair. Research I have undertaken indicates that even cleaning the building without attending to broken mortar joints could damage the structural integrity of the building. When I proposed that sinking funds be used to repair spalling concrete, water leaks etc to common property, I was advised by the chairman that the painting is just phase 1 and other work will happen after phase 1. There is no maintenance plan so I don’t know what phase 2 could be. And there will be no money left after the painting occurs. I know that the chairman has undertaken major work to his unit without applying to the OC for permission, eg having a gas service connected to his unit on common property, and ripping out and replacing all the windows and doors. There are now dislodged blocks on the walls of his unit. I get the feeling he is looking out for himself only, and painting the building will cover up his shoddy work. I have spoken to 3 architects and all say that painting the building is a waste of money and not needed. How can I stop this mindless paint works from happening? From reading through the OC Act 2006, if a deteriorated part of the common property is hazardous, can I request the sinking funds be used for an ‘urgent matter’ for repairs to ensure safety? This would then use up the funds being collected for painting and improve the safety of residents. The committee is in breach of the Act, as there are no meeting minutes. Can the committee’s decisions therefore be questioned / made null and void? All of the lot owners are in the dark about what the committee are planning (even I am, and I’m on it!).

    • Hi Karen

      An email record of decisions is not the greatest but is still enough to record what’s happening.

      I’m not sure what the process is in Victoria but here in Queensland if you object to works being undertaken by the body corporate because they are unnecessary you could raise a dispute through the Office Commissioner Body Corporate. In NSW it would be NCAT so I’m assuming there is some sort of tribunal or system for disputes.

      If the works are unnecessary, and you can prove that, you have a shot at stopping the implementation of the motion but you must move fast.

      The same goes with the dislodged blocks in the Chairperson’s wall.

      Be aware, to take legal action you need to have first tried to self-resolve. That will mean making your objections clear to the committee and Chairperson. Try to discuss the matter with them.

  15. Terry McGregor says:

    Hi Lisa,
    When does the term of a body corporate committee expire. Is it to the start of the AGM ? or is it up until a new committee is elected, say a committee is elected at Motion 8 of an AGM. Does this mean the old committee is still active up until Motion 8 ?

    • Hi Terry

      Election of committee is not a motion, its done at the end of the AGM. The previous committee is dismissed when voting commences.

      In effect the Chairperson elected at the last AGM chairs the meeting to completion. The announcement of committee is the last task.

      • Terry McGregor says:

        Thanks Lisa,
        We had a question on why the Body Corporate Manager (BCM) always chairs the AGM. From what I read in the Act the BCM can only chair the meeting if the chairperson is not present.
        Cheers Terry.

  16. We need to dimiss our committee. We know that we need 25% of owners to support the dismissal
    and to call an EGM to action. Please advise what the procedure is and the documentation required to action this

    • Hi Jen

      Refer to this page. There’s a specific form you need to use.

      Most important are the motions to be considered. Write them separately and attach to the form – ie where it says motions write “refer to Annexure A”.

      Make sure the motions can be answered with a YES / NO vote. If they involve expenditure make sure there are quotes.

      Be aware, if any motion is ruled out of order by the Chairperson at the meeting you may take a vote, by the owners there, to overturn the Chairpersons ruling. If that vote passes, you may then vote on the motion.

  17. Nessa Parf says:

    Hi Lisa,
    Thank you for this website, it has been a very informative read. I am hoping you can help me too. I recently bought an apartment where the Body Corp is run by a Body Corp Manager who is also an owner. She makes all the decisions about the property and spends money from the sinking fund without consulting any owners. When I have questioned her about this she says that is the role of the Body Corp Manager. We are having the property painted and our communal outdoor space re-laid which will no doubt come at a considerable cost and she has not informed us (in writing) of any works. I am just wondering if she is acting within her rights and if there is anything I can do about ‘having a say’ as an owner?
    Thanking you in advance,

    • Hi Nessa

      That does not sound good. And your manager is incorrect. The BCM does NOT make decisions for the body corporate. They may be authorised to carry out some tasks, usually collection of outstanding contributions, but then a very specific process of what they may or may not do is decided.

      The elected committee runs the body corporate and instructs the body corporate manager. In most cases, unless the scheme is very small, the committee is made up of a minimum of 3 people and maximum of 7. They should decide business together.

      Something like painting should be decided by all the lot owners at general meeting.

      Are you having regular general meetings? Are you being given the opportunity to nominate for committee? Does she have a formal agreement? Was the motion to paint carried by ordinary resolution at general meeting?

      If none of these things are happening then you may make an application for conciliation or Adjudication via the Office of Commissioner Body Corporate.

      There are very specific processes that need to be followed managing a body corporate. One person deciding all matters is not possible.

      • Nessa Parf says:

        Hi Lisa,
        Thank you so much for your detailed reply. I really appreciate your advise. I only purchased the property in February (one of eight) and there were no notes in the contract of sale about any AGM’s. I have asked for this information but the BCM seems to be ignoring my request. I also asked for the contact details for the other owners but she is also withholding this information so I am going to contact Consumer Affairs (Vic) tomorrow and lodge a complaint. I assume she cannot withhold this information from me?
        Thanks again,

  18. William Jasick says:

    Hi Lisa,

    My name is Bill and I and my mother own a unit in a block of 6 units. One of the owners decided we needed a body corp situation and hired a body corp as nobody else in the units wanted the responsibility. My complaint is that we are paying far too much for services we do not receive. Each unit pays $1211.62 every six months.. So far all we have seen is a letterbox fixed, the lawn on the nature strip mowed sometimes. Some painting ws done after 10 years. The units are brick. The tip of the brick work and the gutters need painting. Also garage doors and front doors. The body corp pays the insurance. How much that is I don’t know and the front light outside. I do not see how this could possibly validate the amount they collect from us. Also if we are late in paying we are charged 30% of total amount which believe it or not came to $400. Seems a bit heavy. My mother is 91 years old and finds all this too difficult. I spend most of my time staying elsewhere. They have us pay $300 for admin which I also find extraordinary. What do you think of this. Should I take legal action and have them investigated. I personally believe we should all take care of our own insurance and split the light bill outside and the lawn also.

    • Hi Bill

      What you’ve described sounds perfectly normal and there is no hint of any impropriety to me. The costs seem reasonable, particularly if you consider that you’re paying funds into your sinking fund, which you are required to do.

      You cannot split your insurance if the lots are joint – legislation does not allow.

      $300 for administration sounds reasonable. Someone is making sure the scheme is doing the things that it needs to do.

      Everything sounds reasonable to me, including the 30% for late payment. If you’re late paying then you should pay extra for having the other owners covering your share of the costs while you arrange payment.

      It is possible to self-manage for cheaper levies, however, then someone needs to take on the responsibility.

  19. John McNAMARA says:

    I live in a small Body Corporate of 7 units in Queensland which for the past seven years has been flagged by pest control experts at extremely high risk of termite infestation and that termite shields are generally inadequate yet at last years AGM the majority (4 owners) of the Body Corporate voted to cancel any ongoing pest inspection or prevention program and have constantly refused to attend to shrubs blocking building weep holes. They have also continually ignored a Category One, High Risk warning issued in 2013 about electrical safety switches in the main switchboard. I have worn myself out trying to warn the body corporate about this recklessness. I am getting too old and do not have the funds to fight them. Is there any other way of extracting accountability from a Body Corporate that treats concerns with utter disdain and contempt.

    • Hi John

      Oh dear, this is a difficult situation. It sounds like you’ve done as much as you can to bring their attention to their statutory requirements.

      I think from here you have two choices: either seek an Adjudicators Order that the body corporate do what they’re required to do, or, let the matter drop.

      An Adjudicators Order is really the only way to force a committee to reverse a decision they’ve made. It would be time consuming and though not hugely expensive there is no guarantee it will be successful. Its unfortunate but majority rules.

      • John McNAMARA says:

        Thank you for the advice. I did neglect to mention that there is an Adjudication Order in place at the property relating to another matter but it has been openly defied for a number of years. Having already been through the stress of BCCM etc referring Adjudication breaches to the Magistrates Court is even more stressful. For my own sanity I will have to let the matter drop and accept the Property is a genuine basket case where Rafferty’s rules prevail. Sadly, there must be other bodies corporate out there who like mine are getting away with blue murder simply because majority and self interest rules often driven by false economy and total disrespect for the rules. Seeking another Adjudication Order would seem an exercise in futility.

        • You’re quite correct John, there are hundreds of schemes where owners are deliberately flouting rules. The only policing comes from other owners and as you’ve learnt sometimes its a exercise in futility. It can be frustrating and at times deeply distressing. There is no controlling other people’s behaviour and ‘the crowd’ tends to take the path of least resistance. Its the chief reason that I own a house and not a unit!

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