WHAT IS A BODY CORPORATE?
A body corporate is the legal entity created when land is subdivided and registered under the Land Title Act 1994 where a community titles scheme is established. All the owners in a community titles scheme are automatically members of the body corporate when they buy their lot.
What does a body corporate do?
The body corporate is given powers under the legislation to carry out duties on behalf of all lot owners. This includes:
maintaining, managing, and controlling the common property on behalf of owners
deciding the amounts to be paid by the owners in the form of levies so the body corporate can operate
making and enforcing rules specific to individual bodies corporate called by-laws, which inform owners and other people who live in the scheme what they can and cannot do
taking out insurance on behalf of owners, such as public risk insurance over the common property and building insurance
managing and controlling the body corporate assets
keeping records for the body corporate, including minutes of meetings, roll of owners details, financial accounts, registers of assets, improvements to common property by owners, engagements, and authorisations.
Decisions about the above are made through meetings of the committee and general meetings of all lot owners.
A body corporate may engage a management company, such as AUA, to carry out the administration of the body corporate on their behalf. Decisions of the body corporate are still made at general or committee meetings, and the management company then carries out the decisions on behalf of the body corporate.
What role does an owner play?
If you are the owner of a unit in a property that has a body corporate, you are a "member" of that body corporate. When a lot is sold, the new owner becomes a member. A tenant paying rent to an owner is not a member of the body corporate and does not generally interact with the body corporate.
The body corporate is responsible for a range of compliance, financial, body corporate insurance and essential services matters. These responsibilities are usually delegated to the office bearers, or better yet, a professional manager who also looks after the strata insurance; manages the caretaking of the common areas and handles the various administrative processes of the association.
An important part of being a member of such an association is that you must adhere to some guidelines to ensure that the group of people can live harmoniously together and that the buildings and other common areas are maintained in an attractive and consistent way. This usually means that changes to the outside of buildings, such as painting or the installation of air conditioners, satellite dishes, awnings, etc must be done in collaboration with other members or office bearers.
What is common property?
Most strata schemes have "common property" or “common areas”. This usually includes the driveway, facilities, such as laundry area, gym, or pool and the open space on the property. This common property must be managed and have liability insurance, as one of the strata insurance products under a strata insurance, so that it serves only the purposes intended and does not expose the association to unnecessary legal risks.