On 14 November 2023, the Queensland Government passed the Body Corporate and Community Management and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2023 (BCCMOLA Bill).
Significant changes have been made to the several Acts that regulate community titles schemes in Queensland, including the Body Corporate and Community Management Act 1997 (Qld) (BCCM Act).
Changes have also been made to the Land Sales Act 1984 (Qld) (LSA) impacting the operation of sunset clauses in off-the-plan land sale contracts.
When do the new laws commence?
Most parts of the BCCMOLA Bill will commence on a date to be fixed by proclamation. This means a future date to be set by Parliament.
The changes relating to sunset clauses will commence upon assent, which means they will commence immediately once the Bill receives assent and becomes an Act. This will likely occur before the end of this year.
Changes to body corporate legislation
Termination of Community Titles Schemes
Schemes can now terminate if they receive 75% or more support from the owners (previously it was 100%).
The new process includes:
preparing a pre-termination report;
the body corporate at a general meeting deciding whether there are economic reasons for termination passed by majority resolution; and
The termination plan must provide for minimum compensation for lot owners as well as compensation for parties with particular contractual interests in the scheme.
After giving lot owners a copy of the termination plan and following a prescribed timeframe, the body corporate may then hold a general meeting to consider a motion for a termination resolution which will only be passed if 75% or more of all lot owners vote for the motion.
However, AAA believes the Act has not gone far enough, with one dissenter still being able to delay the termination process indefinitely.
This spanner in the works means that the case will need to be heard by a special adjudicator and the legal bill paid for by the Body Corporate.
Considering the housing crisis and the number of underutilised sites in Queensland, this Act could have truly unlocked a range of sites for development.
Second-hand smoke in community titles schemes
Body corporates will be permitted to make by-laws that specifically prohibit or restrict the smoking or inhaling of smoking products on the common property of the scheme and on an outdoor area of a lot (but not the inside area of a lot). An outdoor area of a lot includes a balcony, courtyard, patio, and verandah.
Keeping or bringing of animals on a lot or on common property
Body corporate by-laws cannot prohibit the keeping of animals in a scheme, or restrict the number, type or size of animals that may be kept. There are now prescribed requirements that the body corporate must comply with, if a by-law requires an owner or occupier to obtain the body corporate’s permission for keeping of an animal.
These requirements include that the body corporate must not unreasonably withhold approval to keep an animal, the circumstances in which a body corporate may refuse to grant approval for keeping of an animal, and that the body corporate must provide its approval and conditions of approval in writing.
Body corporate towing of vehicles
The law is clarified to establish that nothing in the BCCM Act prevents a body corporate from towing a motor vehicle from the common property for the scheme.
Sunset clauses in 'off the plan' contracts for land - Land Sales Act 1984
The LSA is amended to regulate the use of sunset clauses within contracts for the sale of proposed land (‘off the plan’ contracts).
Sellers (property developers) will only be permitted to exercise their rights under a sunset clause to terminate an ‘off the plan’ contract with the written consent of the buyer, or under an order of the Supreme Court.
If a seller seeks to terminate a contract under a sunset clause, there is an obligation on buyer to respond and to act reasonably in the circumstances. If the buyer fails to respond to the notice, then it is deemed that they consent to the termination.
AAA was a key stakeholder in providing advice to Government on these changes.