The Palaszczuk Government has recently announced reforms to body corporate legislation in Queensland following the October 2022 Housing Summit. The reforms aim to make it easier to sell and redevelop ageing or rundown community titles schemes. According to Attorney-General Shannon Fentiman, stakeholders at the Queensland Housing Summit highlighted that scheme termination was an essential area that required reform, and the government has listened.
In short, the proposed changes will:
- Make it easier for units to be redeveloped by allowing for the termination of a community titles scheme with the support of 75% of lot owners (reduced from the current positions which requires 100% of Lot owners);
- Enable bodies corporate to prohibit smoking in outdoor and communal areas, to better protect residents from second-hand smoke; and
- Prevent bodies corporate from banning pets, except in specific circumstances.
Under the current system, a community titles scheme can only be terminated if no owner opposes the termination, or if the District Court is satisfied that it is just and equitable to terminate it. However, under the new legislation, termination of a scheme can be done with the support of 75 per cent of lot owners, where the body corporate has agreed it is more financially viable for lot owners to terminate rather than maintain or remediate the scheme. If no owners dissent to the termination, it will be approved.
The proposed new laws lower the threshold to 75% will bring Queensland in line with New South Wales which changed its regulations in 2015. This is relevant in situations where the body corporate has agreed it is more financially viable for lot owners to end the title than maintain or renovate the property.
In addition to scheme termination reform, the government will also strengthen laws to protect residents from second-hand smoke by empowering bodies corporate to make by-laws prohibiting smoking in outdoor and communal areas of a community titles scheme. Furthermore, pet owners will be protected by changes that will prevent bodies corporate from banning pets in community titles schemes, except in specific circumstances.
The reforms will also improve body corporate governance and management by making it easier for residents to lodge disputes and expanding adjudicators’ powers. This package of reforms includes allowing bodies corporate to tow vehicles that are preventing access or causing a hazard.
Ms Fentiman explains that the new process will include safeguards to protect owners in the minority who do not support termination. She highlights that if the body corporate approves a termination plan, a dissenting owner can make an application to the District Court, which would consider a set of just and equitable factors in deciding whether the termination should proceed.
The Attorney-General declares that the government is “delivering on our commitment to consult on changes to Queensland’s community titles legislation” and intends to introduce the second package of reforms before the end of the year. She adds that the government will continue working with the Community Titles Legislation Working Group to consider further reforms, such as management rights, bullying, and harassment.
If you would like to discuss how these legislative changes may affect you, phone us on 07 3370 5100.