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A common misconception is that a body corporate is unable to ban solar panel installation in a scheme due to it being contrary to the “ban the banners” provisions under the Building Act 1975.

However, as the below recent case demonstrates, that is not always the case.

In Many Views II[1] an owner first sought committee approval to install solar panels on the roof of his lot supported by utility infrastructure to be run on the outside wall of his lot  – which was common property – and visible to other owners and occupiers at the scheme.

The owner was aware that other owners in the scheme had installed solar panels – however – their utility infrastructure was internal and thus not visible to any other occupiers.

At committee level the application was rejected and the owner then submitted a motion to have all owners vote at the next general meeting to approval the installation of the solar panels with external utility infrastructure.

The Committee (as was open to them), canvassed owners to vote against the owner’s motion on the basis that the external utility infrastructure would diminish the “visual cohesiveness” of the scheme and that all other lot owners had been instructed to install similar fixtures and fittings internally.

At the annual general meeting, owners voted against the solar panel application by 16 No votes with 2 yes votes out of a scheme of 62 lots.

Unhappy with the outcome – the owner filed his adjudication application to have the resolution overturned by an adjudicator.

Adjudicator Pulsford found:

  • The common property (eg external wall in this instance) is owned by all owners as tenants in common;
  • Any decision to allow an individual owner to occupy a portion of the common property infringes on the rights of all other owners;
  • For the owner to occupy a portion of the external wall would require the owner obtaining an additional area of exclusive use – which would require a resolution without dissent to be passed;
  • The applicant admitted the infrastructure could be run internally – however the cost would be higher;
  • The decision of the body corporate was to stand unless it is demonstrates to haver been made due to a failure to “act reasonably”;
  • The person alleging the decision was unreasonable must show, for example, that it lacked a logical or factual basis or was so far removed from any plausible justification that no reasonable person could have reached it;
  • The body corporate’s discretion was not fettered by the Building Act 1975;
  • The Building Act 1975 did not require the body corporate to pass the applicant’s motion; and
  • “Visual Cohesiveness” was a relevant factor for owners to consider and it was open to a reasonable body corporate to reach the conclusion that the applicant’s motion should not have been passed.

The application was accordingly dismissed.

You can read the complete case here:

[1] Many Views II [2024] QBCCMCmr 134 (5 April 2024)