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A Guide to Australian Owner’s Corporations

What is an owner’s corporation?

An owner’s corporation is a body that consists of lot owners in residential, commercial, retail, industrial or mixed-use properties.

It represents the collective interests of all members and acts to administer, manage, repair, maintain and insure the common property of all members of the body.

Common property includes all shared gardens, pathways, driveways, nature strips, walls, stairwells, lifts, foyers, fences, and anything else that is not individually owned by lot owners. An owner’s corporation is primarily responsible for the upkeep and maintenance of all these components of the land and is funded by levies collected from all neighbours and tenants who occupy the lots registered under the body corporate.

General responsibilities include:

  • Taking out and maintaining insurance for the subdivided land/building
  • Administering appropriate finances and common funds
  • Ensuring that all common property is in good condition and well repaired
  • Maintaining reliable records of all meetings and decision documents and motions
  • Maintaining a budget
  • Keeping register of all unit owners and committee members
  • Providing any documentation to owners upon request

If you have recently purchased an apartment or lot as part of subdivided land, you will have entered an owner’s corporation and will be subject to levies that are decided by your committee.

Who is in it?

A body corporate, by statute, must elect a committee to make day to day decisions on behalf of all the lots and is usually composed of a Chairman, Secretary, Treasurer and a number of other Ordinary members and non-voting members. Each body must have at least 3 voting members to assist in decision making.

If I am in the committee, what exactly would I need to do?

Depending on your position in the committee, you will need to assist in day to day management of common property and contributing to decision making processes that will be decided upon by the committee of the body corporate.

You will have to hold or attend regular annual general meetings where they will discuss general matters that concern all members, such as deciding on electricity and network providers or setting levy rates. Only meetings that are officially called and recorded by minutes will be recognised, and in Queensland if this meeting is not recorded by minutes, a fine of up to $1,100 can ensue. We advise that you consult the appropriate statutory body to check the requirements of your particular state/jurisdiction in respect to legal meeting obligations.

How can I take some weight off my shoulders ?

The owners corporation may delegate some or all of its responsibilities and functions to an external manager for the strata scheme called a ‘strata manager’ who can play roles ranging from assisting with minor duties to managing the committee, depending on how much power the body corporate is willing to transfer.

Depending on which state you live in, strata managers must hold licences under relevant¬† legislation if they are being paid by the owner’s corporation.

The key perks to having an external manager is the relief of stresses in dealing with day to day burdens, as well as guidance in decision making processes by providing objective views on situations. They can also be of great assistance in mediation or dispute resolution between parties if conflicts do arise.


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Author Healy

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