Are you aware of what your owners corporation (formerly known as the body corporate) does for you? We take a look at how to get the most out of your owners corporation.
If you live in an apartment building or shared-living space, an owners’ corporation is put in place to manage and maintain common areas including gardens, stairwells, car parks and swimming pools. If you purchase a property that has an owners’ corporation, you automatically become a member and have legal and financial responsibilities to the corporation.
Who runs the owners corporation?
An owners’ corporation is often run by a professional management company on behalf of tenants. The corporation manages the common areas of residential, retail, commercial, industrial or mixed-use properties. The responsibilities of an owners’ corporation include:
- Managing all common property.
- Maintaining property and performing repairs.
- Organising insurance.
- Keeping all financial records and setting fees for owners.
- Handling complaints from property owners.
- Complying with statutory requirements including the Owners Corporation Act 2006 and Owners Corporation Regulations 2007.
Owners corporation meetings
Members of the owners’ corporation must meet annually if it receives or pays out money during the year. The meeting lets members discuss issues relating to the property and plan for the year ahead.
Good preparation is essential for a successful meeting and topics for discussion should be organised prior to the meeting. All owners should receive a notice for the meeting and a separate meeting agenda. Discussion topics often result in disagreements, so it’s important that supporting documents are provided for each topic.
Minutes should be taken and all queries and topics should be addressed. Any decisions are made by voting and ballots.
According to the Owners Corporation Act 2006 there are three ways to handle complaints:
- Internal resolution of disputes.
- Consumer Affairs Victoria conciliation.
- Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT).
It’s always best if disputes with neighbours are handled internally and the owners’ corporation should encourage open communication. If a dispute cannot be resolved, a formal complaint should be made in writing. If the matter is not resolved within 28 days, the matter may be referred to VCAT. Property owners are not obliged to use the owners’ corporation to air their grievances. They can go directly to Consumer Affairs Victoria.