What are body corporate by-laws?
By-laws are a set of rules for a strata scheme. They may regulate a variety of matters such as parking, noise, use of common property and the keeping of pets.
A body corporate can adopt standard by-laws set out in the legislation or create their own by-laws to suit their specific scheme’s circumstances.
Whilst bodies corporate can create their own by-laws, these by-laws cannot contravene existing legislation.
The purpose of by-laws?
Strata schemes are not uniform. They vary in size, demographics, amenities and suitability for keeping animals.
Being able to outline rules that are specific to their scheme allows bodies corporate to control and administer the common property, body corporate assets, owners and occupiers in the best and most appropriate way for those particular circumstances.
How are by-laws made?
Queensland legislation (The BCCM Act) had model by-laws that can be adapted wholly or in part by bodies corporate.
Additionally, bodies corporate can create, alter or remove by-laws their own by-laws at a general meeting. To do this requires:
• For an ordinary by-law – a special resolution
• For an exclusive use by-law – a resolution without dissent
By-laws made by the body corporate cannot contravene existing legislation. For example, a body corporate cannot introduce a by-law stating that there is no need for an Annual General Meeting (AGM) as this is required by law. Furthermore, by-laws cannot discriminate between types of occupiers (such as families with children).
What is an exclusive use by-law?
An exclusive use by-law attaches to a lot in the scheme and gives the occupier of the lot exclusive rights and enjoyment (or other special rights) to a part of common property or a body corporate asset. For example, granting exclusive access to a courtyard that was originally part of common property.
The lot owner who has exclusive use or other rights is responsible for the maintenance and operating costs for that part of the common property
The rules for making exclusive use by-laws are stricter than those for making ordinary by-laws. An exclusive use by-law may attach to a lot only if:
• the lot owner agrees in writing
• a resolution without dissent is passed consenting to the recording of a new CMS.
Common examples of by-laws
The most common by-laws regulate pet ownership, noise levels and parking requirements. Other common by-laws deal with:
• common property damage
• guest behaviour
• garbage disposal
• building aesthetics
What happens if by-laws are breached?
The first thing that should be done if an owner or occupier breaches a by-law is to attempt to discuss it with them in a friendly manner. People are sometimes unaware they are breaching the by-laws, and the issue may be resolved simply and amicably.
If this is not enough to resolve the issue, the person/s may be issued with a contravention notice, ordering them to remedy the breach in a certain period of time.
If this still does not remedy the situation, your body corporate has further options through the Commissioner for Body Corporate Management, or through the Magistrates Court.
Where to find the by-laws?
All new owners and tenants in the scheme should be given a copy of the by-laws to ensure they do not inadvertently breach any rules.
Prospective owners and tenants should also have access to the by-laws to allow them to make an informed decision.
You can find a copy of your scheme’s by-laws in the Community Management Statement (CMS). You can apply for a copy of the CMS through the Queensland Titles Registry.
For more information on body corporate by-laws in Queensland click here.