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It is unfortunately the case that from time to time a body corporate manager is caught in the unenviable position of receiving valid complaints from an owner that other owners (whether on the Committee or not) are unwilling to fix a problem which is undeniability the body corporate’s responsibility to fix.

In a perfect world, Committee members would do their best to understand common property problems and to work with an aggrieved owner towards a solution within a reasonable timeframe. Our role is to assist the Committee understanding the Body Corporate’s maintenance obligations, however, as non-voting members of the Committee we are unable to reprimand or otherwise force the Committee to make decisions that align with our advice.  Legislation is clear that we are not the police and have no prosecutorial power for a Committee ignoring the Body Corporate’s legal responsibilities and nor can we spend owner’s money. This is often a disappointing reality made known to owners who attempt to make their disappointment with the Committee our issue to resolve.

From an owner’s perspective it is one thing for the body corporate to take its time to fix an issue if the body corporate does not have the funds immediately to do so, it is an entirely different issue where the body corporate has the funds, it has evidence that the issue is one for which the body corporate is responsible and the Committee seemingly are unwilling to advance the issue.

So what are the options open to the owner at this point in time:

  1. Firstly – an aggrieved owner should approach the Committee members to understand why they do not want to get the work done – is it a funding issue? Does the Committee believe the work should be done at the owner’s cost? Does the Committee need more information to be certain about what the works entail? Try to get the Committee’s reasoning in writing as you may need it later.
  • Secondly – an aggrieved owner should ensure they have provided expert written advice confirming the nature and location of the faulty common property, relative to the lot boundaries within the scheme to the Committee. Emails or verbal theories about the cause and nature of the defect will not advance the matter.  Remember your body corporate manager cannot collect expert advice for you.
  • If the Committee are unwilling to obtain quotes for the work to be done and unwilling to instruct the body corporate manager to obtain the quotes or are unhappy with the quotes they have – an aggrieved owner should obtain quotes themselves (there is no prejudice in doing so) and submit those to the Committee. If those quotes do not advance the matter, the aggrieved owner should put together a motion to go onto the agenda of the next general meeting to ask owners to vote “yes” to the works taking place at the body corporate’s cost with provision to raise a special levy if required to cover the costs of the works.
  • A further option for an aggrieved owner is to seek legal advice on the body corporate’s maintenance requirements with a view to that lawyer writing to the body corporate to provide a paper trail and gently remind the Committee of the Body Corporate’s obligations. Again; if the matter is not resolving – this correspondence will be evidence of an aggrieved owner’s attempts to resolve the issue in the event an Adjudication Application has to be brought.
  • Finally, where an aggrieved owner apprehends that fellow owners have blocked his or her legitimate attempts to have the body corporate rectify a part of the common property which (supported by cogent evidence) it is the Body Corporate’s responsibility to attend to, at the Body Corporate’s cost that aggrieved owner should commence the Conciliation Application process as it will take upwards of 9 weeks from the lodgment date for a Conciliation Conference to be set down. If the matter resolves prior to that conference taking place the aggrieved party can withdraw.

Finally an aggrieved owner who finds themselves in this difficult situation should be aware that it may be necessary for them to go to the Conciliation Conference, attempt to resolve the issue and if the issue is not resolved, go all the way to an Adjudication Application to get a written order directing the Body Corporate to attend to its maintenance obligations within the time frame provided (usually three months from the date of the order).