OC 101 – Everything You Need To Know About Body Corporates
These frequently asked questions are aimed at giving new home owners and investors a run down to body corporates and what you need to know.
What is a Body Corporate?
Body Corporates are responsible for managing, repairing and maintaining common property. When you buy into a property with a Body Corporate, you’re buying into a complex where you share legal ownership of any common areas with the other owners in addition to your individual property. As the name suggests, common property refers to property that is jointly owned and may include driveways, windows, roofs, gardens, swimming pools or lifts.
To find out exactly what your Body Corporate is responsible for repairing and maintaining, refer to the Plan of Subdivision which was attached to your contract of sale. Your Body Corporate Manager will also be able to assist with any specific questions.
What is the role of a Manager?
A Body Corporate Manager is a professional appointed to administer and coordinate the day to day affairs of the Body Corporate in accordance with the requirements of the Owners Corporation Act 2006.
In addition, they:
- Organise building insurance quotations / assist with lodging claims
- Keep financial records and pay/issue invoices
- Prepare and distribute financial statements and budgets
- Prepare and distribute meeting notices, agendas and minutes
- Arrange quotations and repairs for building maintenance
Why do I need a professional Body Corporate Manager?
There are a number of benefits of having a professional Manager.
A professional body corporate manager is better equipped to understand and keep abreast of changes to the complex legal requirements that govern body corporates. In Victoria, all strata managers are required to maintain professional indemnity insurance of at least $2 million. From a reputational and financial perspective, managers are more incentivised to ensure that the property is compliant and will take a proactive role to minimise risks compared to volunteer owners on a Committee.
An impartial voice
Being independent of the property, a strata manager can also usually achieve a consensus amongst owners when action needs to be taken a lot quicker than a committee that may be seen to have other self-interest motives at play when deciding on how to spend the property’s money or what issues on the property need to be prioritised.
Strata managers can also bring their expertise when determining how much needs to be budgeted to keep the property in an optimal state of repair and attractiveness and, so that money is always available when needed to carry out works.
Limit unnecessary costs
While it is true that there is an additional cost involved in having an independent strata manager looking after your common property compared to the owners self-managing, the associated costs of doing the latter can quickly far exceed the former. For example, a strata manager tends to be more familiar with what the maintenance and repair costs should be and have a list of qualified local suppliers on-hand to ensure the maintenance and repairs are in good order and that costs are kept to a minimum.
Who makes the decisions and how can I get involved?
Any owner that is a member of a Body Corporate can have a say in how the Body Corporate is managed by:
- Contacting Committee members or the Manager regarding a particular maintenance and repair issue at the property
- Attending the Annual General Meeting (AGM) which is held every year
- Nominating to be elected as Chairperson or a Committee member at the AGM
The day to day decisions of the Body Corporate are made by owners who are elected to the Committee. For smaller buildings, it is common to have a Chairperson (if only one owner nominates).
The Owners Corporation Act 2006 has strict guidelines regarding the actions that the Chairperson or Committee members can take on behalf of owners.
Why do I need to pay fees/levies?
Funds are collected from owners in order for the Body Corporate to carry out its duties as outlined above. The major expenses can be split into three main categories:
- Building and liability insurance
- Repairs and maintenance (gardening, common utilities etc.)
- Management fees
Fees can vary significantly depending on the size and type of building. Before purchasing a property, it is important to check the Owners Corporation Certificate attached to the contract of sale for information on the current fees paid.
Owners that refuse or fail to pay their fees can be taken to VCAT in order to recover the amount owed. The Body Corporate will often charge the legal fees along with penalty interest directly to the owner.
How do I change my Body Corporate Manager?
There are a variety of avenues for changing your manager. Ask us about our eBook. The first step is to contact us for a no obligation management proposal and we are happy to discuss how we can work together and assist you to change managers.