Common Property

The body corporate is responsible for managing the common property. In fact that’s a nice simple definition of what a body corporate really is.

Common property is the area that is not contained within the lot. That’s not really clear so lets look at some examples.

Two Types Of Body Corporates

There are two types of body corporates; Building Format Plans (BFP) and Standard Format Plans (SFP). The simplest way to think about these differences is BFP’s go up and SFP’s go out.

Sky-scraperApartment buildings, whether they’re giant high-rises with hundreds of lots, or the much more common three-story-walk-up, or something in between, they all still extend upwards and they are all BFP’s.

The common factor with BFP’s is that they share external walls and internal areas, such as hallways and foyers.

Gated ComplexGated communities and their big brothers, master planned communities, are examples of SFP’s.

The common factor with SFP’s is that the lots are usually self contained buildings, though they may be duplex or triplex buildings, set within a wider precinct of similar lots with similar buildings.

Some body corporates may be a mixture of BFP and SFP.

The big differences between the two types of buildings is what is and isn’t common property.

Examples of Common Property

The examples given below are by no means comprehensive; body corporates are complex and very different from each other and I recommend you check the details for your body corporate.

Common property in BFP is generally going to include: the land on which the building stands including gardens, pools and anything within that land, the basement(s), the entrance ways, the reception / hallway area on every floor (unless said area has been granted as exclusive use), lifts and / or stairwells, external windows and doors to the extent they are situated in a boundary wall separating the lot from common property, balustrades and of course the roof.

Common property in a SFP is going to include the front gate if any, any land that is not included in a lot, roadways, swimming pools, drainage, electrical and water mains to the boundaries of the lot(s).


The biggest issue regarding body corporate’s is whom is responsible for what. The lot owner is responsible for everything contained within the lot, including exclusive use areas.

It is important to know the boundaries of your lot so that you can work out whom is responsible for what. For instance a leaking exterior window. In a BFP this is a body corporate responsibility, in a SFP a lot owner responsibility.

To find out if your lot is a BFP or a SFP check your survey plan*. A Building Unit Plan (BUP) is a BFP and a Group Titles Plan (GTP) is a SFP. A Survey Plan (SP) may be either and which it is will be noted on the plan.

The survey plans will set out the boundaries of the common property and the lot and whether or not the body corporate is a building format plan or a standard format plan, or both.

*NOTE: Survey plans, which include BUP’s, GTP’s and SP’s, are different from exclusive use plans contained in the Community Management Statements.


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. Very good blog! Do you have any helpful hints for aspiring writers?
    I’m planning to start my own blog soon but I’m
    a little lost on everything. Would you suggest starting with a free platform like WordPress or
    go for a paid option? There are so many choices out there that I’m totally confused ..
    Any suggestions? Bless you!

    • WordPress works for me.

    • Julie Lloyd says:

      Lisa, I wish to know whether I can put some shade cloth around the inner part of the fence surrounding my ground floor unit to make sure my pet does not run onto the road. She is able now to squeeze through or even under the metal bars. These bars surround each unit in my complex so need to know if I can do this, seeing that this particular part of the fencing surrounds my unit only. Do I have to apply for permission to do this to the Body Corporate, or just go ahead. Thank you. Julie Lloyd

      • Hi Julie

        Check your by-laws to see if putting stuff around the fence is specifically ruled out. It is likely to be. There usually are by-laws about the external appearance of the lot.

        It might be worth discussing with your body corporate manager or someone on the committee about the problems you’re having with the dog and the bars and see what solutions might be viable.

        If you go ahead and put up the shade cloth be prepared to be told to take it down.

  2. Heather Brady says:

    If an owner decides to replace a window is it correct that there is a 50% payment from owner and 50% payment from the Body Corporate.As the inside of the unit is considered the responsibility of the owner whereas the outside of the building is considered the responsibility of the Body Corporate.

    • Hi Heather

      It is unusual for a lot owner to change a window. The scheme will have by-laws regarding the appearance of the scheme and any change to the exterior like a window will be strictly controlled. I suggest you talk to your committee before proceeding.

      If a SFP, assuming approval was granted, window changes would be a lot owner expense. In a BFP then if it is exterior to the scheme then it is common property and body corporate expense. If it is within the lot (like a sliding door to a balcony) then it is lot owner expense. Again however, changes should not be made without permission.

      The 50/50 rule works usually relates to fences.

  3. Julie Lloyd says:

    I have 2 air conditioners that are installed and the parts outside that control these are leaking gas. Is the Body Corporate responsible for the repairs or does it depend on the warranty. If so, how do I find out how long the warranty is or was for these?

    • Julie Lloyd says:

      Thank you Lisa.


    • Hi Julie

      Air conditioners are a tricky one. If the air conditioners are part of the overall infrastructure of the scheme then they are body corporate responsibility. If they service your lot only and were installed by you, or a previous owner, then the installation likely includes a condition that all repairs are lot owner responsibility.

      Ask your manager, see what they say.

  4. Gillian urdy says:

    Hi there
    We (my son and I) own two units on one Lot!
    Can I have my son and myself (who both own both the units in our superannuation fund) as two members on the committee with two votes.
    Or if not, can one be a non voting member on the committee if we can only have one voting committee member per LOT not per unit?

    • Hi Gillian

      I’m sorry but one lot = one vote. Also one committee member.

      If your scheme does not have a valid committee – ie not enough members (3) – then it would be possible for both owners to be on the committee. If the scheme does have a valid committee it is not necessary to have a non-voting member.

  5. Hello Lisa,
    My daughter purchased a free standing duplex here in QLD 1lot 2 duplexes but they are then with an 11 lot body corp. I have the current title search and survey plan …..If the Survey Plan shows Format: BUILDING is that a problem if they wish to have manage their own building corp just for the two duplexes. I understand they still need to split the costs for the larger body corp. Just worried more about which scheme they are in and their responsibilities and rights! Thank you

    • Hi Deb

      Your daughter’s lot is contained within a layered scheme. Essentially she is part of two schemes.
      There is a principal body corporate (the larger scheme) and resident body corporate (your daughter’s scheme).

      The resident body corporate (RBC) is responsible for managing their own affairs. Self-managing is fine.

      The RBC is a lot within the principal body corporate (PBC). As such the RBC pays levies to the PBC and must obey the by-laws of the PBC. One member of the RBC is also automatically on the committee for the PBC and has a say in what happens within the larger scheme.

  6. Alex Braun says:

    Thank you for this.
    My question is, we have balconies on our townhouses. On our original plans they are not common property and we are officially a group title plan. However, for some reason, the previous owners decided to treat the lots as a building unit plan (as was stated in our last sinking fund forecast) and now the balconies come under the body corporate. While I might not care, the problem is that ONE owner wants to change all the balconies and is bullying the rest of us. I was wondering if it would make sense to try to ask the other owners if we could go back to the group title plan where (according to the gentleman who did the sinking fund forecast, I was present when he said this) the balconies are the individual responsibility of the owner. Is this possible? Thanks so much!

    • Hi Alex

      When you talk about GTP / BUP I’m assuming you meaning Standard Format Plan vs Building Format Plan. It is possible to change type of plan however that involve town planning, a new Survey Plan and a new Community Management Statement. It would be costly and time consuming. For the purposes of this conversation I’ll assume your body corporate hasn’t been through this process.

      There is no “going back to Group Title Plan” because the scheme never left. The owners have simply been paying for things they shouldn’t have.

      The body corporate and committee should not be paying for lot owner costs. Ever. Under any circumstance. The body corporate has no authority to make resolutions about lot owner property.

      If the body corporate is paying for things that are lot owner responsibility any owner may seek Adjudication that the works stop and/or any funds paid out by the joint funds be repaid. And “you’ve done it for other lots” is not an excuse for using joint funds to pay for personal works.

      • Alex Braun says:

        Wow thank you. I believe that the body corporate body (?) Whittles, who we employ, was the one who sent out the directive. So confused. Also apparently there was some adjudication to actually allow previous works to occur (seems they won a fight when the other owners didn’t want the balcony works to go ahead). Now the other owner wants to ‘get her fair share’ as I see it by making the rest of us pay $20,000 per balcony… oh my goodness! When I explained I didn’t have that money, she told me I shouldn’t have bought the unit. Anyway, apologies for the mini-rant. I will contact the body corporate body (?) and find out what the deal is.
        Thanks again for your input. I feel vindicated!! : )

        • Lisa Rutland says:

          Hi Alex

          That’s a strange set of circumstances. There might be more going on here. If damage to the lot is a result of failure to maintain the common property then the body corp will be responsible. So for instance if the common property had termites and didn’t treat and they got in a lot then the body corp would be responsible for fixing the lot.

          Do follow up. Find out what their justification is then check its legal. You’re talking a lot of money.

          • Alex Braun says:

            Will do. I will speak to Whittles. Thank you so much for taking the time to read and respond!!


  1. […]  – sets out the development of the scheme land. This only really applies if a body corporate is a standard format plan since with an apartment building its unlikely that new lots will be […]

  2. […] body corporate collects levies to use in the running and maintenance of the common property.  A deficit occurs when the body corporate spends more than they have […]

  3. […] The answer is of course is lot 1 and lot 2 on Plan C jointly own the land. It is common property. […]

  4. […] might also like: Common Property which discusses how to find out if your body corporate is a building format plan or a standard […]

  5. […] corporates are simply mechanisms for managing common property. That common property is owned by the collective lot owners who are responsible for paying for the upkeep by way of […]

  6. […] A shared pool, such as on body corporate common property, is for the benefit and enjoyment of all the lot owners and their respective guests. It is common property. […]

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