- Body corporate changes, pet bans addressed, consensus for scheme termination lowered.
- Sunset clause restrictions introduced for off-the-plan purchases.
- REIQ supports most changes, but predicts some reforms will draw heavy debate.
The Queensland Government passed the Body Corporate and Community Management and Other Legislation Amendment Act 2023 this Tuesday, prompting The Real Estate Institute of Queensland (REIQ) to release a statement praising the legislative changes.
New consumer protections and laws on body corporate matters
The bill will introduce several new body corporate laws and protections for ‘off the plan’ buyers. In short, the body corporate reforms will:
• enable body corporates to create by-laws banning smoking in outdoor areas and communal areas of strata communities,
• stop body corporates from making by-laws with blanket pet bans in community title schemes,
• elucidate and improve the ability for body corporates to tow vehicles from common property promptly, and
• lower consensus for scheme termination from unanimous to 75% of lot owners in limited circumstances.
Additionally, property developers will only be allowed to invoke sunset clauses for ‘off the plan’ purchases in these three situations:
• with the buyer’s written consent,
• under the order of the Supreme Court, or
• in another situation prescribed by regulation.
“Reforms to scheme termination strike the right balance between protecting property rights and giving unit owners more flexibility in decisions about uneconomic community titles schemes, while also opening up more housing development opportunities,” said Attorney-General and Minister for Justice and Minister for the Prevention of Domestic and Family Violence, Yvette D’Ath.
“The health of unit residents will be better protected from second-hand smoke, and we have made it easier to keep a much-loved pet while living in an apartment.”
Yvette D’Ath, Attorney-General of Queensland
Most changes welcomed, while others may draw controversy
REIQ CEO Antonia Mercorella said these changes would improve apartment and unit living.
“The REIQ certainly supports the viewpoint that quiet enjoyment of people’s homes is a right that should be upheld and not restricted as much as possible,” she said.
“However, we recognise that due to the nature of sharing a title and being in close quarters, there needs to be laws that govern communities with clarity and necessary protections to keep everyone within them safe.
Mercorella anticipated a positive reception for the law allowing body corporates to tow vehicles, assuming adequate notice.
“This reform addresses situations such as visitor parking being monopolised by the same lot owners or their guests when the benefit is meant to be enjoyed by all,” she said.
“Our view is that stakeholders should be educated about what signage should be erected and what information should be provided to lot owners about parking and towing by-laws, liability for the cost of same and particularly, with respect to third party guests.”
Nevertheless, the REIQ CEO predicted that other changes, such as allowing body corporates to ban smoking, prevent blanket pet bans, and lowering the consensus for scheme termination, would draw heavy debate.
REIQ disapproves of changes to the Land Sales Act
Mercorella also disapproved of the Land Sales Act 1984 reforms preventing property developers from indiscriminately invoking sunset clauses.
“It is our view that the proposed provisions, albeit offering strong consumer protection, may lack consideration for the commercial challenges faced by developers in providing housing.”
Antonia Mercorella, REIQ CEO
“We appreciate that in what has been an unprecedented, extraordinary market period, that there have been some reports of developers pulling the pin on developments and leaving buyers to start again.
“However, our concern is that this now legislates an outlier issue which is not prevalent or evident in today’s market now that we’ve returned to ‘normality’, and under normal circumstances, these clauses are needed for developers to avoid bankruptcy on unfeasible projects.
“As peak body, the REIQ is committed to developing resources and training for the real estate sector to ensure they are supported and prepared for the changes.”