If you live in a strata property, you will most likely be a member of the body corporate that is responsible for managing and operating your scheme. This is a significant responsibility that involves the management of a variety of contractors and the protection and maintenance of body corporate assets.
Body corporate disputes occur from time to time and are an inevitable part of life within a community titles scheme. These disputes can be a result of a number of different issues.
When there is a dispute between lot owners, the first step is often to discuss the issue with each other and attempt to resolve it through communication. Often this can help to avoid the escalation of the issue and create a more peaceful environment.
However, sometimes the issue can be so serious that it is necessary to seek legal advice. Having an experienced lawyer to assist you can make the process much smoother and reduce any risk of it getting out of control.
In Queensland, a lot owner or body corporate disputes may also choose to refer the dispute to the Office of the Commissioner for Body Corporate and Community Management (BCCM) before commencing a court or tribunal case. This is a common practice and it allows for the parties to have an opportunity to submit written submissions before the BCCM makes a decision.
The BCCM can also make recommendations to the body corporate about whether the matter should be resolved. This could include recommending the use of mediation.
Mediation can be a useful alternative to taking the matter to the courts and it offers a quick, cost-effective solution for resolving issues in a friendly, informal manner. In some cases, however, the dispute might not be able to be settled through conciliation and should therefore be referred to QCAT for review by the body corporate.
A body corporate can also seek to obtain an interdict to stop a person from doing something or from acting in a certain way. This can be particularly useful if the body corporate is acting outside of its powers or is attempting to enforce its rules in an unreasonable way.
If you are dealing with a body corporate dispute it is important to contact an experienced lawyer for advice as soon as possible. Trying to resolve the dispute yourself without the correct guidance can result in more problems than it solves.
Disputes between lot owners and the body corporate can often be complicated and can include issues such as contribution and penalty interest, recovery costs and debt matters. All of these are subject to specific laws that require them to be complied with.
The Acts that govern strata property schemes vary from state to state and it is advisable for owners to seek appropriate legal advice to ensure they are aware of their rights and obligations. Often, these are not clear or easily understood and it can be important to get advice as soon as possible in order to avoid a costly and time-consuming escalation of the dispute.