The Body Corporate and Community Management Act 1997 calls for equal contributions to the running costs of a building through lot entitlements unless it is ‘just and equitable’.
Effectively, if a unit owner does not believe they are being charged body corporate fees fairly they can apply to the Queensland Commercial and Consumer Tribunal for a fee reduction. In some instances this has seen the fees of a single bedroom unit owner increase up to 70% when a penthouse owner has successfully been granted a fee reduction.
The merits of the Act have long been debated, and in the instance of Callard v Body Corporate for Centrepoint Community Title Scheme an ensuing investigation into an argument and weapons instance followed.
The Queensland Government proposes to change the way body corporate and community management laws affect Queensland’s more than 350,000 unit owners in an effort to make body corporate fees fairer.
As part of a consultation process, the government conducted a series of community sessions in December 2008. These sessions investigated how the existing lot entitlements scheme operated and examined court findings – the proposed changes can potentially overturn previous court decisions, affecting up to 1.5 million Queenslanders who live under body corporate regulations.
The consultation lead to the proposal that buildings and complexes where lot entitlement adjustments have been made can revert to the original method of calculating body corporate fees as at the registration of the building plan, as well as provision for developers to more easily incorporate affordable housing opportunity with high-end development.
These changes mean that future adjustments to body corporate fees and levies must be accepted by all lot owners in an agreement to redistribute the lot entitlements among themselves.
Redefined levies and charges can only be reassessed after a three year period has passed, and the owner must demonstrate the equity principle for the distribution of body corporate charges.
For more details on the changes to the Body Corporate and Community Management Act 1997, see your solicitor.