Body Corporate Management: Who’s In Charge?

leaderMost lot owners experience of their body corporate management is levy notices, agendas and minutes in the mail. For others there may be some interaction with the onsite building manager. But who actually is in charge?

It helps to think of a body corporate as a country, and a democratic one at that, ruled by the people for the people.

The lot owners are the ‘citizens’.

All major decisions of the body corporate are made collectively by the lot owners. The most important of those decisions is to elect a ‘government’, the committee.

Of course the process can be very complicated, so just like any government, the body corporate can engage ‘civil servants’ to help manage the process. There are two main contractors for body corporates; the body corporate manager and the building manager.

The Committee

All the day to day decisions, the running of the body corporate are made by the committee, within strict legislative guidelines.

The committee is elected each year at the Annual General Meeting and their appointment lasts for one year only, basically from AGM to AGM. Each committee is made up of Office Bearers, Chairperson, Secretary and Treasurer, and ordinary committee members.

The Chairperson is in charge of running the meetings, counting votes, and generally making the tough calls, although they do not have any deciding vote or special powers. The Secretary is responsible for managing the body corporate records and being the public contact point for the body corporate. The Treasurer is in charge of the money.

The actions of the body corporate, how much levies to collect, what works are undertaken and anything else the scheme is involved in is all decided by the committee.

The Body Corporate Manager

A body corporate manager may be appointed to undertake certain tasks, most commonly the duties of the Secretary and Treasurer.

For most schemes that means the body corporate manager is in charge of the financial aspects of the body corporate, which is what gives the impression the body corporate  manager is actually running things. They are not.

What they are doing is issuing and collecting levies in accordance with the resolutions made at general meeting. They will pay the invoices that fall due, but usually only on the direct advice of the Treasurer. They also maintain the body corporate records.

Body corporate managers also advise committees. They are strata professionals and part of their role is to guide the scheme through the maze of legislative requirements.

The Building Manager

Similarly the building manager is a contractor hired by the body corporate. The role of the building manager is  maintain the premises.

The exact duties of a building manager differ from scheme to scheme and are set out in the Caretaking Agreement, the agreement under which the building manager is appointed.

For the most part that will include gardening, pool cleaning, cleaning common areas such as lift lobbies or stairwells and minor repairs. They will also be responsible for obtaining quotes for major works the body corporate is planning.

One of the key roles of building managers is to ensure that all residents and visitors comply with the body corporate by laws.

Although the building manager is a committee member, they are included on a non-voting basis and have no power to make decisions.

The Majority Rules

Despite the many layers of body corporate management all the major decisions of the body corporate are still made by all the lot owners in conjunction by either a simple majority (ordinary resolution), 2/3 majority (special resolution) or unanimously majority (resolution without dissent), depending on the expenditure or action the body corporate wish to take.

Lot owners at general meeting:

  • Elect the committee
  • Confirm the yearly levy issue
  • Authorise expenditure above the committee threshold
  • Enter into contracts including:
    • Appointment of a body corporate manager
    • Entry into a Caretaking and Letting agreement
    • Authorise any other major decision likely to affect the lot owners

Lot owners only vote on motions that have been submitted in accordance with legislation. Any lot owner may submit a motion however*.

Once a motion is resolved at a general meeting it then will revert back to the committee to action with the assistance of the building manager and the body corporate manager.

Body corporate management oversight

Just as the lot owners are responsible for electing their own leadership and support workers they’re also responsible for policing themselves. There is no outside body who’s watching the various levels of body corporate management to ensure compliance with both legislation and ethics guidelines.

Again it’s up to the lot owners collectively to monitor and, if necessary object, to the performance of the body corporate’s management.

*For further information about submitting motions refer to the Department of Justice guidelines.

THE BASICS OF BODY CORPORATES

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.


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