The Most Common Body Corporate Problems (in no particular order)

body corporate problemsAlthough every building is uniquely individual there are a number of body corporate problems that come up over and over. This article is about some of those recurring issues.

Be aware these are in no particular order and they have different levels of severity. Some of them are annoying, some are just painful and others have the potential to be serious issues requiring expensive remedies. I should also note this is not a scientific study of any sort, just my observation from reading thousands of body corporate records.

In no particular order, the most common body corporate problems are ….

Parking

Body corporates are all about limited space, which, in the world of multiple vehicles per household spells trouble. Problems with parking, particularly in visitor spaces are very common.

Noise

When a lot of people live in close proximity to each other things are going to get loud. Loud parties are just the tip of the ice berg. There’s loud arguments, loud make ups, loud children and loud pets. Then there might be loud machinery or traffic. Noise, particularly in a city, is actually difficult to control.

BBQ and Swimming Pools

Consideration is vital when resources are shared, and well, for some people, that’s a bit of a stretch. Loud, obnoxious behaviour and stupidity are subjects that often come up around pools and to hear it told no one ever cleans BBQ’s.

Pets

Lots of people like pets. Some people though really, really don’t. Leaving aside the complex legalities of the issues, is it really fair to move into a complex with a pet when the majority of lot owners have indicated they do not want animals? Food for thought. Conflict regarding pets, particularly pets without approval happens regularly.

Children

Kids like to bend the rules, usually because they don’t yet know, or even care for that matter, what the rules are to begin with. In an environment where rules are important it can cause quite a lot of friction. Children are like pets in their ability to be polarising in a community.

Invitees

Problems with invitees usually come up in the same sentence as “party”, but people acting rudely towards residents certainly isn’t limited to gatherings. Everyone is expected to observe by-laws and some people react badly to rules. Lot owners are responsible for the actions of their visitors, and that includes tenants.

Smoking

It’s becoming more and more common for body corporates to pass by-laws banning smoking on common property. Which is a problem for smokers who might be renting or just don’t want to smoke inside their units. The most common issue is complaints re smoking on balconies, usually from those upwind.

Building Defects

Nearly all buildings have some sort of issues from a sliding door that won’t run smoothly up to foundations that don’t actually support the building. Body corporates are no different. The most common defect is water ingress.

Management Problems

The committee, selected from lot owners, runs the body corporate, with paid help in some cases. Lot owners are usually not professionals and they’re thrust into a complex environment to sink or swim. Communication issues and competency issues do arise.

Levies in Arrearsbody corporate problems

There’s this persistent myth that the body corporate will manage if lot owners don’t pay their levies. It’s not true; if enough owners get behind it can seriously impact liquidity. Not covering your share of costs doesn’t do much to foster well-being in the community either.

Insufficient Sinking Funds

The idea of a sinking fund is to collect a little each year from every owner who ever owns in the body corporate so funds are available to meet capital requirements later. If the sinking funds are insufficient the onus falls on the existing lot owners when funds are required.

Arguments Over Approvals

Body corporate’s control the way they look. It’s part of their “curb appeal”. Changes, even beneficial changes like installing an air conditioner or solar panels may be refused because they impact on that external look. Arguments ensue …

Major Problems with Commercial Tennants

Shops and restaurants are usually kept separate from residential areas for very good reasons. They have different needs. Residential wants quiet and relaxing whereas a shop or restaurants are about getting out and about. Conflict can arise regarding noise, traffic and even smells. There are different infrastructure needs as well like grease traps and external lighting that may also lead to conflict.

Obnoxiously Complaining Owners

I tell everyone that they should complain if they feel things are not right or they’re being disadvantaged. This is because there is no external “policing” of body corporates. That said, complaints should be made with a healthy dose of humbleness and respect for others. Some people forget that part.

Meeting Procedural Issues

Body corporates are closed environments and, within the constraints of legislation, they can pretty much do what they like. The legislation is the key, and as most lawyers will tell you legislation can be interpreted many ways. Complaints about particular motions at general meeting make up the bulk of complaints adjudicated by the Office Commission Body Corporate in Queensland. Mostly they come down to one owner or another saying “you can’t do that!”

These are some of the most commonly occurring issues in body corporates. Schemes are as diverse as people though so anything can happen.

Do you have another example? Leave a comment and let me know your issue.

photo credit: Stuck in Customs via photopin cc

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.


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

Download Now

Comments

  1. Leonie Walsh says:

    My unit flooded due to a leak in the water pipes. The body corporate got a plumber out to fix the leak and I replaced the carpet under the body corporate insurance. While laying the carpet the carpet layers punctured a water pipe. The body corporate called a plumber who fixed the pipe. The body corporate now say I am responsible for the plumber’s $700 bill. Is this correct?

    • Hi Leonie

      I think the person responsible for the cost of fixing the ruptured pipe is the carpet layers. Since you engaged the carpet layers then yes, you are responsible for the bill. The body corporate does not have any relationship with the carper layers. You do though as you engaged them. Seek restitution from the carpet layers.

  2. please help my wall wich is beetween my unit and the next has damage my body crp guy said its my problem but everyone else said the body corp has to fix it there is alot of funds in the acct can someone please help chris

    • Hi Chris

      The body corporate is not responsible for maintaining your lot. Or your neighbours lot for that matter.

      Boundaries of lots are measured in the centre of walls, floors, ceilings and doors. If the wall is between you and your neighbour then the two of you are responsible for maintaining. If the damage is on your side then its your responsibility, if its through the whole wall then both are responsible.

      Bearing in mind I have no knowledge of the particulars of your scheme, your plan or the damage itself to me it seems your body corporate representative is correct, the matter is yours to resolve.

  3. What is the definition of “change of use” that is installing something new, such carports vs. upgrading something such as piping/plumbing? I understand that under the standard plan a change of use requires a unanimous vote by all owners, which includes abstentions, all must vote, that even one abstention or negative vote, defeats the motion. What is the regulation regarding expenditures which need to be approved by an AGM or EGM by a simple majority vote? What expenditures can be approved by a majority committee vote? What expenditures can be approved by the executive (chairman)? and or BC strata management?

    • Hi Alan

      I think the unanimous motion you’re talking about is change of use of common property. An abstention does not override a resolution without dissent and owners are under no obligation to vote on a resolution without dissent. Any NO votes will defeat the motion.

      Refer to the Office Commissioner Body Corporate website re expenditures by which sort of resolution. Also review your schemes own minutes to see what the restricted issues, committee and major spending levels are.

      The body corporate manager does not make decisions.

      Committee decisions should be made by the committee as a whole and will be limited by both the committee spending limit and the restricted issues of the committee. Both are set by the scheme within parameters.

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