Commissioner Chris Irons: Body Corporate Roll and Records

Image: One Palm Beach

Using ‘roll’ to mean a list or record of names has common usage in a variety of contexts, including an electoral roll or the roll call at school.

Its origins appear to be in variations of the Latin ‘rotulus’ or ‘rotula’, pertaining to a wheel.

When you think about this word origin when applied to a roll such as a body corporate roll, it begins to make sense – like a wheel, the roll should be something which is nearly always in motion, being updated and kept current.

The body corporate roll plays a vital part in the effective day-to-day management of a community titles scheme, by identifying who each lot owner is, as well as their contact details.

This information is vital as it is how body corporate notices – including notices for payment of body corporate levies – are distributed. It also provides the body corporate with information on who is entitled to vote for a particular lot.

It isn’t just the body corporate which needs to utilise the roll to communicate with its owners.

Owners themselves may need to utilise the roll to communicate with other owners, for example, to discuss a proposal which might eventually find its way to being a motion at a general meeting for decision. Or my Office might require a party to distribute material to all lot owners as part of a dispute resolution application, which would in turn require access to the roll.

Accordingly, questions – and disputes – about access to a body corporate’s roll are common.

Non-committee lot owners may be able to access a copy of the roll by making a written request and paying the prescribed fee (currently, 65 cents per page).

These are legislative provisions and are important provisions to note, as there is sometimes a misconception on the part of some lot owners that they can telephone, email or turn up in person to a body corporate manager (who commonly maintains the roll on behalf of its body corporate) and that roll details will be handed over instantly.

Similarly, there is sometimes an expectation on the part of someone wanting to access the roll that the roll will contain all contact details of a lot owner, including email addresses.

It is also important to note that the roll is only as accurate as the information provided to the body corporate.

There is, for example, no point in a lot owner blaming the body corporate or body corporate manager for incorrect details if the lot owner or owners have given the incorrect details in the first place.

Body corporate legislation requires owners to notify the body corporate within two months of any change of information on the roll.

The most obvious (and arguably important) example of this requirement would be when the lot owner takes possession of the lot.

The roll forms part of the overall suite of body corporate records. As noted above, there are eligibility requirements and a prescribed process to access body corporate records.

If a person considers that:

  • they are eligible to access a record, and it is not forthcoming; or
  • they have followed the prescribed process to access a record, and it is not forthcoming; or
  • they have obtained records but the record is incomplete,

then that person may have a dispute and grounds to lodge a dispute resolution application with my Office.

There are also a number of queries and misunderstandings about privacy in relation to the body corporate roll.

In a nutshell, privacy legislation does not apply to the body corporate roll and citing ‘privacy concerns’ is not a valid rationale for a body corporate or body corporate manager to refuse access to the roll or other body corporate records.

On a related theme, body corporate legislation is very much concerned with ensuring openness and transparency. For these reasons, there is no capacity under body corporate legislation for a lot owner’s details to be redacted, withheld or otherwise concealed from the roll.

Owners who are concerned about their personal details forming part of the body corporate roll may wish to seek legal advice about their options.

For further information about the body corporate legislation please contact our Information Service on Freecall 1800 060 119, or visit our website.

Author: Chris Irons, Commissioner for Body Corporate and Community Management, Office of the Commissioner for Body Corporate and Community Management

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