“There Is No Body Corporate” and Other Myths About Duplexes

duplexesOut of a total of 42,948 different body corporates in Queensland 30,211 have fewer than six lots. That’s 70% of all strata schemes in Queensland.

And the vast majority of that 70% will be made up of duplexes, the humble two-lot dwellings that dominate our suburbs.

By now you may have already spotted the most common myth about duplexes: if the majority of body corporates are duplexes, ergo, duplexes have body corporates.

“But, my agent / the seller told me there was no body corporate” is a common cry heard all across Queensland when lots settle and the new owner actually gets to chatting with the neighbours.

Myth #1 There is no body corporate

It is true that not all duplexes have body corporates, and, if you bought a duplex it is possible that there is no body corporate.

But, it’s actually quite uncommon that someone buys a ‘duplex’.

A duplex is a pair of dwellings on one block of land. What most people actually buy is one half of a duplex.

It’s the process of strata titling that allows the two dwellings on the one block to be sold to separate owners. And, that process of strata titling is what creates the body corporate.

So, if you bought one half of a pair of duplexes there is most likely a body corporate.

Myth #2 The body corporate is not active

I’ve actually said this myself from time to time but it is incorrect. A body corporate is not like a house or a car, something that sits idle until someone chooses to use it.

Body corporates are entities, entities subject to some pretty expansive legislation.

Whether or not the lot owners choose to act on behalf of the entity, or comply with the legislation for that matter, doesn’t in any way impact the validity of the entity.

Meaning there’s no process of re-activation a body corporate needs to go through before the rules and regulations apply. They always apply.

There is no policing body for body corporates however, and the only people affected by it are its members, the lot owners. But, at any time, either lot owner can complain to the adjudicator and force compliance with regulations.

What we really mean when say the body corporate is “inactive” is that meetings are not held and levies are not issued.

Myth #3 There are no body corporate records

Duplexes are a grey area for me because of the many thousands of strata searches I’ve done only a handful have been of duplexes, and almost all of those were new.

Until recently duplexes were registered under either a small schemes or standard module regulation which requires developers to provide certain documents to the body corporate as part of the development process.

Consequently body corporate records do exist in the same format as every other body corporate.

In practice for most duplexes meetings are not held, levies are not issued and there are no bank accounts so the very idea there may have ever been records let alone a body corporate becomes somewhat of a, well, a myth.

Myth #4 Bummer, there is a body corporate

For a lot of people the idea that there might actually be a body corporate for their duplex is crushing.

But it really doesn’t need to be.

The whole point of body corporate legislation is to offer a framework within which people can invest and live together, because, you know, people!

If we could all just get along there would be no need for all that legislation.

Having a body corporate doesn’t need to be an issue for duplex lot owners. All that’s required is communication, a willingness to work together and the ability to pay your half of whatever expenditure comes up, which in most cases is half the insurance policy.

If the two lot owners can negotiate and resolve any issues between themselves, excellent, even if there’s no record of that.

For some people though, that’s a challenge, which is why there is legislation to help lot owners with poor investment partners.

photo credit: yagodiaz via photopin cc


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!

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    • It’s not really a question of the body corporate being active or inactive; it simply is. But if all the lot owners are happy with things then really that’s what matters. Unfortunately the individual insurance companies may not be happy since body corporates are usually insured as a whole and the individual lot owners pay a share of the premium. And yes, that may affect claim lodgements. I’m not an expert on body corporate insurance though. I suggest speaking with a broker who specialises in body corporate. Body Corporate Brokers or Whitbread may be able to help.

  2. Hi. We purchased a 1/2 duplex in British Columbia. We mentioned to our neighbours that we were planning to revamp the front grass area to a low maintenance gardens. We have been informed that they approached lawyers to say we have to get their permission because it is “limited common property” although with exclusive use for our 1/2. Is this actually true? Do I have to go get their permission for something as simple as changing up landscaping on a lot that I just paid for?

    • Hi Michelle

      Thanks for commenting and I’m so sorry but I’m based in Queensland, Australia. I don’t know anything about the legislation in British Columbia.

      If its anything like here, which is likely is, then even though an area is issued as exclusive use it still may be subject to by-laws. One of those by-laws is likely to deal with the appearance of the building, particularly in the front of the scheme. In which case, yes, you would need to get their agreement. I would start by getting a hold of the by-laws and seeing what is or isn’t restricted.

      That doesn’t preclude making changes though. It just means you need to negotiate with your neighbours.

  3. Hi, I live in a block of 4 units we have a common driveway & I think the two lawn areas are shared but as they are in front of units 1 & 4 no one uses them. I have only been here under a year now & the person who ran the body corporate got pregnant & called a meeting for us to meet the new person who would take charge, we were never asked if we wanted someone else to run the B C. Now to the best of my knowledge we have to take care of our own maintenance at our cost. I think one unit is owned by the department of housing so they just pay rent & all their maintenance is paid for them, like recently totally refurbished inside & out, painting,carpets& tiles. To my knowledge all we get is the lawns mowed & building insurance that also covers the common areas. This costs us $1000 per year each as the manager charges us to pay each of these bills. Is it possible that we or I could organize these tasks there by reducing our annual costs as I would not charge to do this also we all have contents insurance & mine alone has a $30 million liability cover plus my car insurance has the same amount. If we all have this cover do we need the extra from the body corporate. I know this has been a long ask for help but thanks in advance to anyone for assistance.
    Kind Regards.

    • Hi Marty

      It is allowable for owners to manage their own schemes and it will absolutely save the owners a lot of money. It can be a little complex for whomever is taking it on, and the owners will need to vote on the matter at a general meeting. But it’s not hard to submit a motion. Your best bet is to talk to the other owners and see how they would feel about it.

      Re the insurance: the body corporate will still need to have the public liability as it covers the common property. I don’t think the body corporate public liability would cover you personally if something happened within your lot but its worth checking out. Maybe you don’t need to have it personally. It is a good idea to keep it over the common property though.

  4. My son has bought a duplex 3 months ago, it is the bottom one and the people that own the top one have been there for 15 years they have a large deck over the top of the 2 garages which they own. My sons unit was never completed properly, all the door entrances are 3 to 4 bricks high, the previous owner tried to get a deck in a motion in a meeting in 2006 and she lost, now my son is trying to do the same and far as I can tell, they are wanting money not for the body corporate but themselves, she refuses to have a meeting. Also there are 5 pest trees one being an African tulip and two huge north folk pines on the common ground, which is over the top of mayor pipes. There is no gardens or shed shown on the plan of the common ground, they have just done what they have wanted and bullied the other 2 previous owners, which were single women on there own. And by the way he was told there was no body corp as well, only insurance between the two units.

    • Hi Eva

      Thanks for your comment and sorry for my late reply, I’ve been on holiday for the last week. I’m not sure which bit you’re wanting advice on particularly so thought I’d just make some comments.

      Re buying: It could conceivably be that the only regular outgoings are insurance, which should have been disclosed in the contract, but that doesn’t mean there is no body corporate. It’s an entity that exists as part of the sub-division whether or not the scheme has regular meetings or levies etc.

      Getting approvals is always a challenge in a duplex where normally there are two owners. To be able to move things forward your son needs to keep trying to resolve issues with the other owner, documenting his experiences. Its important as if a stalemate is reached then an application to the Commissioner is the next step to try and get some movement happening. As part of that application a listing of what attempts have been made to resolve the issue will be necessary.

      Issues with the finish of a building should be addressed under the building warranty with the builder. If the building was built in 2006 then warranties have expired and the responsibility is your sons, assuming the area in question is not common property. If it is common property then addressing it will be a body corporate issue.

      My best advice is to talk to the other owner as best you can. Don’t take whatever they say as gospel however, double check it with the Office Commissioner Body Corporate first. Persistence is going to be important.

  5. Lisa
    Quick question
    If you own both units in the duplex even though they are strata titled do you need to have strata insurance ?
    Can in just be normal home insurance – strata seems much more expensive

    • Hi Fiona

      I would think it best to discuss with a broker. At the least you won’t need things like voluntary workers, fidelity guarantee and office bearers liability which are included in strata insurance. At best the duplex might not even be strata titled in which case it’s just a building.

      So…yes I would expect you to be able to just insure the building. Insurance is technical though so check with a broker.

  6. I bought half a duplex in Labrador in 2015 and new owner/investors bought the other half after I moves in. The agent told me that the duplex body corporate had been dissolved, she told the other owners the same thing. As far as I understood the insurance needs to be under the same policy for the building because they share a common wall. But my neighbour has gone and taken out separate insurance with Youi I think, and told me that I need my own separate building insurance, with no discussion, no negotiation, nothing. Just bluntly told me what to do except I know this is not legal. During the course of reaearching to find facts to support my argument, I was forwarded to the Qld Govt Dept that handles body corporate and they advised me that the property was probably under a body corporate name and that doesn’t change. I am phoning the titles office on Monday to see if the property does have a currently registered body corporate name, after that I have to try and convince my stubborn neighbour that we need joind insurance in the name of the body corporate. He is going to be difficult to deal with and I am worried I will be forced to sell because he refuses to insure under a joint policy.

    • Hi Diana

      Oh dear. It sounds like it could be unpleasant. Who knows maybe your fellow lot owner will see sense easily enough. It might be worth talking to a specialist strata insurance broker to find out the clear legals when it comes to insured duplexes. It could be that if there is a claim the separate insurance will be useless which is a good reason to get joint!

      I’m sorry I’m not conversant enough in insurance to help on that score.

  7. Hi we live in 1 of 6 units on a block. Our direct neighbour is not joined to us and yet there is a bit of common grass which we were informed they were responsible to maintain. Unfortunately it has not and gross grows and we tried to set the example of keeping our garden neat and tidy as well as everyone else on the block. I was told there is no body corporate and our neighbours refuse to listen or budge. They were even provided with a lawn mower for that very purpose. Is there a law or code they need to comply with?

    • Hi Sandy

      This is a confusing question Sandy.

      Lot owners are responsible for taking care of their own lots. The body corporate, or all the lot owners combined, are responsible for common areas. Therefore if you share an area with someone you’re jointly responsible for it’s upkeep. Just because someone has said in the past “it’s their responsibility” doesn’t necessarily mean it is.

      If its not common property then it’s likely part of their lot and they may choose to do what they like within their lot.

      Your may have some remedies under the by-laws of the scheme, appearance of a lot, but without an body corporate committee enforcing those by-laws will be a matter of making an application for adjudication.

      I would get a copy of the by-laws and or plan for the scheme to work out who is responsible as a first step.

  8. Hi we live in one 1/2 of identical duplexes. Our neighbour has fenced off some common ground so they can have a court yard. Now they want to change their garage door to a sliding door. Im concerned as the garages are side by side and will look completely different, and can they fence off some common ground for themselves?

    • Hi Jane

      How do you know the area they’ve fenced is common ground? There are different ways plans are registered and it might be that the area they fenced is their personal property, in which case they may do what they choose within reason.

      You need to refer to the schemes by-laws. They’ll be contained within the Community Management Statement. But quite likely no, they will not be able to change the appearance of the lot. You will need to act quick though and register your objection with them. If it leads to an argument you will need to seek Adjudication through the Office Commissioner Body Corporate. You must try and resolved the issue first though.

  9. Hi, we have owned a 1/2 share in a duplex for the past 3 years, the other unit was sold recently and the new owners are not nice people. The phone line has never been installed in their property so they bullied us to use our spare connection and connected to a box on our property then we had electricians etc in out ceiling and home for 3 hours. We have since been told that we legally did not have to allow this. Can you please answer this. Thanks.

    • Hi Clare

      It’s an unusual question and unfortunately I don’t know the answer. It would depend on whether the line is on common property or within your lot. Refer to your community management statement which should have a services location diagram in it. If its not in there then its safe to assume the lot owner of your unit bought the line in at some stage and you could argue the service is yours. It is arguably though.

  10. I bought a villa Seven years ago,as far as I know there is no body corporate.We pay no fees and don’t know who owns the other three units.I have an insurance policy for my unit with Gio covering building and contents and public liability for my share, but I can’t find any other insurers that do this and that limits my options,eg premium rose 9% this year.Do you know of any other insurers who insure individual villas.

    • Hi Alan

      I think you missed the point of that article: a body corporate exists whether you pay any attention to it or not.

      I don’t know of any insurance companies that will insure lots in a body corporate separately. Its unusual. The people to ask would be your neighbour owners. Presumably they have independent insurance as well.

      • The other three villas are rented we have no idea who owners are.A body corporate may have been set up by the previous owner builders but no meetings or anything has ever been set up.

  11. Hi
    We own a 1 half of a deplex under a body corporate. The Building insurance is under the Body Corp name so when we made a claim recently the insurer sent a cheque under the name of the Bodu Corp and not under my name. They told me, as per Qld legislation, they could not make the cheque out anyone other than the Body Corp name. The problem with this is we do not have a bank account under the Body Corp name meaning I cannot bank the cheque and am not out of pocket for the repairs. Is what the insurance company saying true and if so how difficult is it to set up a bank account for a Body Corp?

    • Hi Kate

      Yes what the insurance company is saying is true, they can only pay the insurance claim to the policy holder. If that’s the body corporate then unfortunately that’s who they make it out to.

      I’m not sure what to do in this circumstance. I have never opened a body corporate bank account so I’m not sure how difficult it will be. You will no doubt be required to prove that you are eligible to do so and its possible just the claim refund is enough. Alternatively both owners might be required to sign. If you do need to open a bank account I know that both Commonwealth and Macquarie banks do no fees body corporate accounts.

      Sometimes its possible to sign cheques over to the other parties. I’d speak to your own bank and see if they can help.

      What a frustrating problem! I’d be really annoyed to.

  12. Hi
    I own unit 2 of a duplex my neighbor unit 1.
    He shares a fence with a lady who owns
    a duplex on the other side & she has a neighbor attached to her duplex.
    She wants a new fence & my neighbor said he would pay his half. According to her that is not how its done & she believes all 4 of us pay a quarter? ? what the?? I dont share fence or driveway with her I have my own fences to deal with, please tell me this is not for real. 😕

  13. Vincenzo Navanteri says:

    Hi Lisa

    I live in a “two lot” on the Gold Coast, the other half is owned by an investor and is rented.
    As a result of the very heavy rains we experienced last June, I suffered some water damage on the ceiling in my unit.
    The insurance accepted the claim conditional to some roof repairs (of a maintenance nature) to be first carried out at BC expense.
    I tried to contact the other owner by phone but to no avail.
    I needed to carry out the work urgently because more rain was forecast and my ceiling was in danger of collapsing.
    I commissioned a roof plumber to do the work in accordance with instructions by the insurance company, the work was done and the ceiling repairs and painting are now under way.
    All roof work carried out as well as the insurance excess was paid by me.
    When the other owner was finally informed through our insurance broker, he asked me if he was “up for anything”.
    I replied that the roof repairs and insurance excess that I had paid, had been invoiced to our Body Corp. Therefore he was responsible for paying half on these amounts.
    To date he has not paid any money and I was wondering what I could do under BC regulation to get him to do the right thing.

    • Hi Vincenzo

      Non payment of levies, or in this case non-reimbursement to other owners, is not a body corporate matter but rather a civil matter. Its a breach of contract and you seek recovery via small claims court or QCAT.

      I would send a letter asking for payment and include copies of the invoices. If they do not pay, I would send a follow up letter of demand with a specific time frame for payment and the notification that legal action will be sought to recover amounts if not paid. You need to be prepared to follow up if required. Its debt collection I’m afraid. But make contact first, they might surprise you and pay immediately.

      If the other owner was to dispute the costs then the matter would come back under BC jurisdiction and you could seek an order via Adjudication.

  14. Dave Wilson says:

    I live in Qld and have a duplex. We don’t have a body corporate as such and pay half of all costs.. With respect to insurance, do we need to have body Corporate Insurance or can we insure individually

    • Hi Dave

      If the two dwellings are joined together then yes you need to insure jointly. If there are individual houses not joined in any way then no.

  15. Susan Birtles says:

    I am an owner of 1 of a 2 lot DupleX in Biggera Waters which has no Community Management Statement, By laws etc at Land Titles.
    For 2 years we have been subject to leaking balconies which the other owner believes is a Body Corporate issue & will not be convinced otherwise. It seems he either expects me or his Real Estate agent to deal with everything but ignores written advice that neither of us are legally permitted to do so.
    My balcony is now repaired but his is still leaking into the party wall & through into my unit, preventing completion of repairs of the internal damage.
    The builder also recommended some remedial work he thought would be a 10 minute job, but he won’t put his name to it.
    How can I convince him that he also has to approve & authorise things as the “Joint owner” of the Body Corporate?

    • Hi Susan

      To force the issue you will need to contact the Office Commissioner Body Corporate and make an adjudication application. Essentially you are seeking a court order that the other owner fix their balcony. Once an order is made the owner will have a period of time in which to rectify and if they do not it can then be pursued via the Magistrates Court.

  16. Hi

    I am looking at building a duplex, using one side for holiday rental and the other for our own holiday use. I don’t intend on creating a split title and own the two properties. I also don’t have an intention to see either side – is it safe to assume that it is okay to do this or is this subject to specific council rules?

    • Hi Avi

      Sounds good to me. Zoning is controlled by council rulings, so an area can be zoned residential or holiday. It has more impact if it’s zoned holiday as that means you can’t reside permanently. Apart from that Air BnB and the like have turned the whole residential / holiday thing on its ear.

      Normally its the fellow owner who complains, so in your case you should be good. Of course be mindful of neighbours but that applies anywhere.

  17. I m an owner of the 1 out 2 lot small strata scheme. Both houses is detached. We do have strata title insurance for everything. I did not heard of any by-law while i purchased it. I m planing to renovate the garden and convert some part to concrete slab, that is all within my lot plan.

    Do i actually need to ask or tell the other owner about it?

    • Hi Ellu

      You will need to refer to your by-laws. Every strata scheme has by-laws whether you have a copy of them or not.

      It is likely that changes to the exterior of the scheme are covered by the by-laws. I would discuss with your fellow owner. Ask them if they have any objection. Any objection needs to be reasonable.

  18. Julie Beer says:

    Hello, I am asking this on behalf of someone else. This person owns one half of a duplex which she rents out. There is a joint insurance policy for the strata. She paid her half of the insurance on 1/1/17 when it was due. She’s just been informed by her Insurance company that her place has been uninsured since 1/1 as the owner of the other half of the duplex has not paid their insurance. All indications are that they have no intentions of doing so. What are her legal rights? What happens with her $700 that she paid for insurance which she doesn’t have? How can she protect her property under these circumstances please? Who can we turn to for advice/assistance with this urgent & serious matter!

    • Hi Julie

      This is a matter between the person, their fellow investor and the insurance company.

      She needs to speak with her fellow investor and find out what’s going on. Explain the issue and find out what, if anything is going to be done. Approach the insurance company and ask for a refund of the $700. They haven’t supplied insurance so there shouldn’t be any problem.

      Then she will need to negotiate something with her fellow owner. It might be a question of forcing the matter. Paying the entire premium herself and then seeking reimbursement through the other owner via Office Commissioner Body Corporate or QCAT.

  19. We are based in Victoria have 4 units. I am owner of one. Previous Body corporate has expired 1year back. Since than we didn’t have body corporate. Are there any penalty of not maintaining body corporate? Also, Can we please get tips on how to set this by myself?


    • Hi Mohit

      What happened when the contract expired? Did someone collect the scheme records? The funds? These are all questions to answer.

      There is no fine for not maintaining your body corporate, at least not unless an owner pursues some sort of penalty. There is no government oversight of management, its a matter between owners. That doesn’t mean there will be no downside to ignoring. For instance, if you’ve lost all your joint funds, that would be a blow. Also, I assume owners have not been paying their levies so what’s happened with insurance and other common expenses, if there are any?

      Absolutely look at self-management, its a good option, though it will require someone to be responsible. Even if you have a committee for making decisions if you self manage someone will need to be in charge of doing stuff. If you can’t find an owner that’s willing to do it, or more than one, then you’re better off hiring someone.

      Check out Our Body Corp for DIY Strata Management online. Also Strataman has some good resources.

  20. Hello Lisa
    My daughter recently purchased a new free standing duplex (one block now with 2 lots) a Strata services company is taking care of the admin which includes insurance on the 2 duplexes and a sinking fund. The building insurance was due this week and the administrators have really been very slow giving my daughter information about the new policy. Is it important for the owners of the duplexes to make sure an administrator actually follows thru and pays the building insurance “before the due date”? I’m was stunned that the administrators didn’t seem at all perturbed or rushed that the insurance policy was not in place much earlier than the due date? My daughter is still waiting for a copy of the policy (The company had been given authority to act on behalf of the owners to secure a new policy) and they were asked by my daughter 2 weeks before the policy expired. The company was collecting money for the building insurance in the biannual levy. This is a great web page! Thank you! It is certainly helping us understand a little more about strata title and body corp. Kind regards Deb

    • Hi Deb

      Sorry for my slow reply.

      It is incumbent on the owners to keep track of what’s happening with their investment. That said I would have expected the administrator to contract your daughter and the other owner to ask about renewal, not the other way around. Perhaps you’re daughter is not getting the best service she could.

  21. Dear Lisa,

    I live in a 3 units townhouses in NSW. All 3 owners decided to manage the common area (common driveway and front yard) ourselves, without a strata manager. All communications were done thru emails. Hence, no hard copy of the meeting. ( Owners corporation is inactive but functioning)

    One of the owner is selling his unit, and the purchaser’s solicitors request a copy of the owners​ corporation records. We don’t have any records, other than the common area utilities bills and strata insurance.

    I am wondering whether it is compulsory to setup an ABN and a company bank account for our owners corporation? Are we breaching any laws by not keeping a records? Thanks

    • Hi Chee

      I would supply the records that you have. You cannot supply what you don’t have and the lack of records tell a story in and of itself. Also, if you have copies of emails, do save them. They are an excellent way to communication and copies achieve the same thing as hard copy records.

      You would need to speak with a tax agent or Accountant re the ABN / tax issues. Its not my area of expertise. There are many small schemes that manage everything by simply splitting the cost between the owners. I’d think the ABN, bank account and tax would only arise if the scheme is issuing levies. But, again, not my area of expertise.

  22. Hello Lisa,
    Can you please explain the difference between a Community Management Statement and a Community Titles Scheme? So confusing! thanks so much.

    • Hi Deb

      Its no wonder you’re confused, CMS and CTS are used interchangeably when discussing the unique identifier for a scheme.

      Community Title Scheme (CTS) refers to a body corporate registered under the BCCM Act 1997. The full name of each CTS is “Body Corporate for Community Title Scheme “. There are multiple buildings with the same name but each scheme has a unique CTS identifier.

      Some strata scheme’s are not registered under the BCCM Act and therefore do not have a CTS number.

      Community Management Statement (CMS) is a document with five parts that sets out the management of the scheme.

      CTS’s are created by the registration of the CMS. That CMS is given a unique identifier which is interchangeable referred to as the CMS number of CTS of the scheme.

  23. Deborah says:

    Hi Lisa,

    My husband and I are in a community title scheme, as a small schemes module.
    My neighbours and I share a free standing duplex and we are looking at handling the management of the body corp ourselves. We are wondering how we should go about this. We have never been provided with a contract, so to our knowledge we do not have to wait the contract out. However, we will definitely ensure that there is no contract before we proceed.

    We are in the process of writing a formal letter, but is there anything specific that we should be including in this letter?
    and what is the best time frame?
    Kind regards,

    • Hi Deb

      The best time frame I would suggest is as soon as possible. Particularly with the letter as you’ll need to give the manager time to finalise the bank account and compile all the records.

      Probably the easiest way to do it will be to talk to manager about it. Say you’ve decided to leave and ask what they require. It might help smooth the way if you have the opportunity to discuss your reasons why, say thank you that sort of thing.

      Do still follow up with your formal letter. Include a time frame for them to hand over the records for the scheme and the funds.

  24. Christine says:

    This blog looks really informative! Are you able to assist with questions of Owners in Western Australia or do you recommend any good Strata POC’s in WA that I could pose some questions to?

    • Hi Christine

      I’m sorry I don’t know WA body corporate legislation. You can try Lookupstrata.com.au – they have questions answered from around Australia and they may be able to help.

  25. Geoff Lindfield says:

    We purchased 1/2 a duplex recently. It has a joint driveway which is in need of repair having numerous cracks and bald patches where the finish is flaking off. We have contacted the owners of the other 1/2 who are renting it out. We were told at first that they may consider next March, April or May as they will get the cost back quickly on their tax. We sent another letter saying that it needed attention now and enclosed photos. The curt reply was that the condition was only cosmetic and that it didnt need doing. Is there any course of action we can take?

    • Hi Geoff

      Its a difficult situation when there are two of you, you both have equal vote.

      The body corporate is required to maintain common property to a safe standard. If the works are truly cosmetic then you don’t stand much of a chance forcing the other owner to comply.

      If the works are affecting the use of the driveway or are unsafe then you can seek Adjudication that the body corporate repair the driveway. You need to show you’ve tried to self-resolve the dispute first so I’d try writing again. If you plan on going this way I’d also speak with the Office Commissioner Body Corporate for their opinion and guidance.

  26. Hi Lisa
    We currently having an issue with the tenant next door. We own our duplex and she’s a tenant for few years on the other half duplex.
    She keep warning us and sending us an aggressive messages and saying we can not park our car infront of our garage which is a common land. We have agreed at the beginning that we would park the car there but somehow she turn against us and keep harassing us! We noticed that she have no problems entering or exiting her garage which she lied about that.
    She has make a complain to her landlord. Can she keep sending us a warning message and tell us what we can do and what not as a tenant?
    I look forward to your reply.


    • Hi Jasmine

      No she cannot.

      You and the other owner make up the body corporate for this scheme. Refer to your by-laws, if you have a copy. If it doesn’t mention anything then you will need to negotiate a solution with the other owner.

      • Hi Lisa

        Thanks for your reply.

        The by laws said the area (infront the garage) we park is common land. Can we request to change the by laws?

        Can the tenant next door do anything to us?


        • Hi Jasmine

          The by-laws might also say that there is no parking on common property, in which case you should not park there.

          Legally all the tenant can do is complain to her real estate / owner. From there it will be up to the body corporate, which is the two owners, to negotiate a solution.

  27. Hi lisa

    Ww bought a half duplex in queensland a year ago and are owner occupied. The next door half is tenanted. The problem we have is that we have started to do renovation to our side and found that the next door tenant’s phone line is running through our new puposed garage/ Garden. We were told by telstra that it will cost 5000k to move the line and if we dobt and build our driveway over it in the even that something goes wrong with their line our driveway will be lifed and we are to bear the cost.

    We made contact with the owner after qbcc told us this was not legal and he does not want to pay to move his tenants line.

    What do we do about this as it is very fustrating and has stopped all our building work to progress. I would appreciat it if i can get some input into this matter

    • Hi Marcelle

      Oh dear. This is a complex question and I’m not sure how much I can help be. There are a lot of issues here. I can only offer comments regarding the body corporate issues.

      From a BC perspective what matters is if the line is on common property and, if it is, whether or not the installation of the line was approved by the body corporate. If it was, then the body corporate will need to either withdraw the permission or pay to move the line. Either situation will be a drama because neither the tenant nor the owner are willing to pay money to facilitate the works, and if the body corporate does it the costs will be shared between owners.

      If there was no approval granted, and the line is on common property, or even part of your lot, then you can seek an Adjudicators Order the line be removed. Its up to the tenant/owner then how they choose to do that.

      Be aware, you’re opening a can of worms here. If you intend to seek legal action, which is what Adjudication is, then you will need to make sure that you are not building on common property. Common property is held between you and the owner of the other duplex and neither have the right to make changes without consulting the other.

      Check where the line is. If its common property check if they sought approval from the body corporate. If not then you need to discuss with the other owner and the Office Commissioner Body Corporate.

      I’d also suggest you talk to a Solicitor.

  28. Dear Lisa

    A most interesting article on two lot schemes. I live in NSW and have bought a villa four years ago and have the neighbour from hell. Do you know of anyone who writes about NSW strata law?
    My neighbour has sequestered the common property in front of her villa. Fenced it off without approval and has now installed a battleship grey 1800 mm colorbond fence to replace the timber fence. This was not approved by the owners corporation despite having an adjudicator’s order to appoint a strata manager because of the dysfunctional OC. The strata manager is useless. The repairs and maintenance of the two villas has not been addressed for 27 years and I want to change that mindset.
    I have a damp slab which causes mould, the villas need painting, pathways at the back of my villa are subsiding causing sewer pipes to bend and stem the flow, termite damage and replacement of back boundary fence which the neighbour will not pay for her share, etc. The strata manager is useless and keeps saying she doesn’t know why she is involved because she is not being paid enough. The agent quoted the rates.
    Any ideas on how to resolve this continuing dysfunctional owners corporation?
    Best wishes

  29. Hi James

    I’m amazed that on the day you comment I also received the Flat-Chat update that had this article. I had to check the names to make sure it wasn’t the same person the circumstances are so similar.

    The article has some advice on what to do. Ultimately forcing the issue via adjudication seems to be the issue.

    If it were me in this position I would start by making a list of all the things that I’d like fixed. Then I would prioritise them. Its going to be fight to get anything done, so I’d make sure the important stuff was done first.

    Then I would get at least two quotes to fix the problems. Then I would write motions with alternatives, including proposal for funding, then submit them to the strata manager for inclusion in the next general meeting. Here in QLD 25% of owners can request an EGM at any time, and if the next meeting wasn’t soon I’d do that.

    We could vote. If the motion was passed I’d just get the works done. If the motion failed because the other owner voted against the motion I’d immediately make an application for an order that the works be done as a matter of urgency. If I lost that I’d think seriously about selling.

    That’s what I’d do. It sounds difficult but break it into little bite sized pieces and it isn’t that hard.

    Have a read of the article. Do also have a look around the Flat-chat forum, it’s extremely useful. Another option is http://www.LookupStrata.com.au.

    Good luck and thanks for commenting.


  1. […] 6 “There is No Body Corporate” & Other Myths About Duplexes […]

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