As most owners would be aware, the Body Corporate has an obligation under the Body Corporate and Community Management Act and associated Regulation Modules to maintain common property.
However, owners also have an obligation to maintain their lot, which in many cases can include courtyard areas, gardens etc. This is raised under Section 170 of the Body Corporate and Community Management (Standard Module) Regulation 2008, which states:
170 Obligations of owners and occupiers—Act, s 160
- An occupier of a lot included in the community titles scheme must keep the parts of the lot readily observable from another lot or common property in a clean and tidy condition.
- The owner of a lot included in the scheme must maintain the lot in good condition.
- The owner’s obligation under subsection (2) to maintain the lot in good condition does not apply to a part of the lot the body corporate is required under this regulation to maintain in good condition.
- The owner of a lot included in the scheme must maintain the utility infrastructure within the boundaries of the lot, and not part of common property, in good condition and, if the utility infrastructure is in need of replacement, must replace it.
- This section applies only to a lot that is not a community titles scheme.
The above section applies whether there is a unit / townhouse built onto the land or whether the lot has remained as vacant land. It is worth noting that in the adjudicators order reviewed this month, the lot in question is a vacant block of land currently still owned by the original developer.
The Adjudicators Ruling – Body Corporate for Cova South Residences v Ausmega Development Pty Ltd (owner of Lot 514) – discussed this issue as the Body Corporate sought a ruling that the Owner of Lot 514 comply with their by laws by tidying up the lot, completing the installation of the pool and making safe the lot by removing building materials and rubbish.
The applicant provided evidence in the application that previous correspondence and breach notices had been issued to the lot owner in regards to the appearance of the lot and noting that complaints had been received from other owners and occupants.
The adjudicator sought a submission from the respondent, who did provide a written response to the application and as such made their ruling based on the information provided from both the applicant and the respondent.
The adjudicator did note under their conclusion that I appreciate that the respondent has not been utilising Lot 514, does not intend to use or develop it, and may be planning to sell it. However, that does not excuse the respondent from complying with its obligations under the legislation and CMS.
As such, the order was made that the respondent, within 30 & 60 days, undertake maintenance required to comply with the by laws and other special conditions in place for the Scheme.
The moral of the ruling being that owners need to ensure that they are aware of their own maintenance responsibilities and their obligations to comply not only with the legislation, but also the by laws for their scheme. If there is any doubt on what owners are required to do, it would be recommended that contact is made with your Body Corporate Manager.
The full order can be read – http://www8.austlii.edu.au/cgi-bin/viewdoc/au/cases/qld/QBCCMCmr/2019/643.html
And more information can be obtained by visiting the Commissioners Office Website –https://www.qld.gov.au/law/housing-and-neighbours/body-corporate/maintenance/responsibilities