An owners corporation is a term that most people have heard, but few may be able to define what is an owners corporation and how it can impact a renter and property owner, especially when it comes to owner corporation rules. If you are renting within a complex that belongs to an owner’s corporation, or you are a homeowner or prospective buyer looking for homes belonging to an owner’s corporation – then this guide is for you. Let’s look at what an owner’s corporation is and what owners corporation rules may apply.
In this blog, we will be discussing:
- What is an owner’s corporation?
- What does an owner’s corporation do?
- What are the common owners corporation rules in Victoria?
- How are owners corporation rules enforced?
What is an owner’s corporation?
Before we discuss the specifics of owners corporation rules or the nuances of owners’ corporation services, let’s define what it is. Many Australians may know this system to be called a body corporate as it was formerly known, so in scenarios where it is referred to as a body corporate, it is now called an owner’s corporation. The owner’s corporation is tasked with managing the common property spaces in a residential, commercial, retail or industrial area.
Members of an owners corporation management will be owners of a flat, apartment, unit or townhouse that belongs to that precinct. Renters, even long-term renters, will not be members of the owner’s corporation and so information that relates to their residence will be decided by and communicated to through the owner’s corporation.
Areas that fall under owners corporation rules or the required responsibility of an owners corporation are pools, stairs, lifts, gardens, gates and other public-use areas. If one of these services is damaged or requires an upgrade, then this matter will be brought to the entire owner’s corporation to decide on the course of action. If it is decided that the public-use area or service is to be fixed, then the owners will pay for this. It is typical that owners will put money into a fund to cater to upgrades and other spends if and when they arise, although if the money is not replenished before an upgrade or maintenance is required, owners may need to put additional funds in.
What does an owner’s corporation do?
An owner’s corporation management is supported by a chosen strata management company. The strata management company has a significant role in the owner’s corporation, as they essentially bring the owner’s corporation committee together and facilitate the actions decided. A strata management group will coordinate general committee meetings either in-person or remotely, and will take the minutes during the meeting and address existing issues for the committee to discuss, whether it is owners corporation rules or pending strata consultation.
When there are maintenance works planned, the strata management group will go out and collect quotes for the works and lock in the tradespeople, managing the works. If lights break and there are immediate issues that require attention, the strata will either action these works or have a vetted list of service professionals to complete the works.
When a property is sold and an owner leaves the owner’s corporation committee, the strata management group will seamlessly ensure the member leaves the group without any lingering responsibilities and will induct new members. In some parts of the world, the owner’s corporation will have the final say in who is allowed to buy into the precinct, but this is not so in Australia.
What are the common owners corporation rules in Victoria?
Owners’ corporations will take different shapes depending on the state they are operating from, so do not assume that Owners corporation rules will be the same throughout Australia. Consumer Affairs Victoria is the entity that sets out the owners corporation rules, and while these rules are firmly entrenched in strata management groups around the state, there are often changes and reforms. Here are some of the most common owners corporation rules in Victoria.
- Waste disposal: An owner or occupier must ensure that the disposal of garbage or waste does not adversely affect the health, hygiene or comfort of the occupiers or users of other lots.
- Smoking: A lot owner or occupier in a multi-level development must ensure that smoke caused by the smoking of tobacco or any other substance by the owner or occupier, or any invitee of the owner or occupier, on the lot does not penetrate the common property or any other lot.
- Use of common property: An owner or occupier of a lot must not obstruct the lawful use and enjoyment of the common property by any other person entitled to use the common property.
- Change of use of lots: An owner or occupier of a lot must give written notification according to owners corporations rules if the owner or occupier changes the existing use of the lot in a way that will affect the insurance premiums for the owner’s corporation.
- The behaviour of owners: An owner or occupier of a lot must take all reasonable steps to ensure that guests of the owner or occupier do not behave in a manner likely to unreasonably interfere with the peaceful enjoyment of any other person entitled to use the common property.
How are owners corporation rules enforced?
Communicating the owners corporation rules to owners and renters is very important, as they can only be enforced and have action taken if these rules are known. If there is a breach or an issue that could lead to a rule breach, an owner’s corporation will discuss and the strata management company will send our communications on their behalf. Breaches can be documented through written detail and even through a photograph so that action can be taken within the committee.
Occupiers may choose to make a complaint against the owner’s corporation, and they can do so through written correspondence. Depending on the nature of the complaint, the owner’s corporation may choose to engage in resolution or not respond. Where possible, have your strata management group be the face of this communication rather than an owner or owners as this may create friction.
In the event that the issue is more severe, then it may be taken to a Magistrates Court, although there should be clear rule dictation, warnings and documentation before this step. Consumers Affairs Victoria has resources available for complaint handling and conflict resolution in your owner’s corporation.
If you want to know more about owners corporation rules and how to navigate them, contact Strata Consultants. As one of Victoria’s most trusted body corporate management companies in Victoria, our friendly and experienced staff are on hand to answer any questions you may have. Contact us today at our website, or call us on 1300 917 848.