SCA: Strata Reform in QLD Building Up a Head of Steam For 2021

This article is about the new body corporate regulations in Queensland commencing on the 1 March 2021 and how they affect people in strata.

With new body corporate regulations in Queensland commencing in less than a month and a reform agenda kicking off with the Palaszczuk Government, 2021 is shaping up as a big year for the 1.1 million Queenslanders affected by the reforms in Queensland.

New body corporate regulations

In the lead up to the state election last year, SCA (Qld) secured long overdue changes to the Body Corporate and Community Management Act (BCCM).

The new laws come into effect on 1 March 2021 and if you want to quickly get up to speed with what is coming, here is a quick summary of some of the most important changes.

Electronic voting and attendance

New provisions are laid out that expand on the threshold requirements which must be satisfied before the body corporate can implement electronic voting.

Defects

A body corporate must include a defect assessment motion at the annual general meeting, after the first annual general meeting which will now ensure much earlier identification of building defects.

Handover documents

Bodies corporate have very strict timeframes for raising disputes in relation to building defects and are often deprived of the documents that they need to effectively identify and rectify these defects. This causes some buildings to have to resort to costly litigation, while most simply repair the defects at their own expense, often costing millions of dollars. This simply is not fair for the homeowners. We have called for a developer to hand over more documents than previously provided for at the first annual general meeting, such as the development approval, building warranties, and key documents. These documents are essential when responding to issues such as combustible cladding and other major defects and having these documents can save apartment owners thousands of dollars which they would otherwise have to spend to obtain them, assuming they can get them at all.

More info on all of the above can be found at the Office of the Commissioner for Body Corporate and Community Management.

2021 Strata Reform – what’s in the pipeline?

The regulation reform process is just the tip of the iceberg with issues affecting communities more broadly such as strata insurance set to take centre stage.

SCA (Qld) successfully lobbied the Labour Government who put forward several commitments in the lead up to the election, and SCA (Qld) is ready to get to work with the government and hammer out the details.

The commitment to establishing a Strata Legislation Working Group shows the most promise to work through some of the big issues facing strata, such as a regulatory framework for body corporate managers, better dispute resolution for schemes and much more robust protection from building defects.

The working group must be set up with the right stakeholders, the shortest workable timeframes, adequate terms of reference and a commitment to implement recommendations.

The 507,000 apartments, units and lots in Queensland are not just bricks and mortar and the decisions made for strata affect people’s lives on a daily basis. Consumer protection is always front of mind and we are committed to helping restore confidence in the strata building sector.

So many of our members and strata residents in North Queensland either cannot obtain strata insurance, or are paying incredibly high and unaffordable premiums, and the government needs to take action.

SCA is developing a reform agenda that tackles affordability and availability issues and looks forward to bringing its agenda to government to resolve the issue and bring certainty to North Queensland residents.

The information which we are receiving from our members is that availability is the paramount issue here. Lack of availability and choice is compounding the affordability issues. It is simple supply and demand.

The government need to take action to encourage more insurers into the North Queensland market. The specific risks and historical losses suffered by insurers in the North Queensland market has led to most insurers withdrawing from that market altogether.

Government intervention is needed to reduce the level of risk to homeowners and insurers and generate more participation and competition in this market. A state or federal natural disaster compensation fund is one way that this could be achieved.

Author: James Nickless, President, SCA (Qld)

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