Queensland Property Law Review – No Such Thing as a Quick Fix


At the SSKB Living in Strata Trade Show last year, Attorney-General Jarrod Bleijie announced an impending shake up of property law in Queensland.

The news was received with a great sense of positive anticipation with SSKB acknowledging that what was needed in the market was certainty and simplicity.

With a view to eliminating unnecessary regulation and red tape, Mr Bleijie and the Newman Government partnered with QUT to undertake a broad ranging review of the current law. The review process has so far involved consultation with industry professionals and stakeholders, as well as the broader community.

Queenslanders in the strata industry should be advised to have some patience as it now seems the results of the review are unlikely to materialise until 2015.

What is in review?

The review, conducted through the Commercial and Property Law Research Centre at QUT, has identified a number of complex and contentious topics to address.

Two issues papers released in February of 2014 invited submissions on (a) the seller disclosure regime in Queensland, and (b) the settling and adjustment of contribution schedule lot entitlements under the Body Corporate and Community Management Act 1997.

Jarrod-Bleijie-Living-in-strata-SSKB-Paul-Wood
Attorney-General, Jarrod Bleijie announcing a shake up of Queensland Property Law

 

Two further issue papers are meant to be released later this year and they will focus on:

  1. Industry and community feedback on issues concerning the Property Law Act 1974; and
  2. Body corporate governance issues arising under the Body Corporate and Community Management Act 1997 and other community titles legislation.

What’s the hold up?

As community managers, we are well aware of the lack of consensus in the strata community around lot entitlements. Previous amendments made to the BCCM Act have failed to provide outcomes satisfactory to both sides of the debate. The 2011 and 2013 amendments have been particularly criticised for putting too much power into the hands of a single lot owner.

It doesn’t take much imagination to picture feedback forms, each offering a different solution, piled mountain high in the QUT offices. The consultancy team will need to take great care in navigating the many vested interests, and this is something that is better done without rush.

Is a review urgent?

 The current BCCM has been in place since 1997, with some amendments introduced through the years. Although it is world class legislation, there is room for further improvement in order to maintain Queensland’s pre-eminence in the area of community living.

Having guided clients through the criticised and confusing changes to the lot entitlement contribution schedule, we encourage the Queensland government and QUT to take the time required to get it right this time.

Queensland needs to settle on a system that works and stick with it. People do not enjoy having the rules changed on them. Certainty and simplicity are important to the many Queenslanders in strata communities. We appreciate that the government is taking it’s time to make an informed decision.

We will continue to monitor the progress closely.



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Recent Comments

5 Comments

Greg Carroll On September 9, 2014 | Reply

Strata communities are not welfare organisations. When all unit owners accept that they must pay their fair share of community expenses, the angst surrounding contribution schedules will disappear.

Unfortunately, in the past contribution schedules together with care taking contracts have been manipulated for the vested interests of developers and the disadvantage of unit owners.

Philip Williams On September 11, 2014 | Reply

This legislation governs both commercial and residential and strongly discriminates against privately owned Qld shopping centres. Owners of smaller units (i.e. 75M2 newspaper stores or bottle shops etc) may be forced to subsidise a large supermarket or department store by paying equal outgoings.
Qld will remain dominated by Westfield type structures where the owner is able to legally ‘contract outside the law’ and totally reject the BCCMA. Small lot owners in ‘commercial’ may not be aware that their livelihood could be in the balance by the outcome of this review.

Ken McCarthy On September 11, 2014 | Reply

If you are a unit owners whose levies have been increased because of the actions of this irresponsible government then of course the review is urgent. It is a little overdone for observers to state that the review is complicated thus excusing an inordinate delay. It isn’t complicated. The Government will not introduce a wholesale change to lot entitlements. So the whole process is a farce. They are deferring the review until after the election to hang out to dry the unit owners trapped by the Equality Principle. Newman should sack the Attorney General and put someone in that position who actually knows what they are doing. If you buy a unit and accept the lot entitlements at the date of purchase then by what logic should a unit buyer be allowed to change lot entitlements for others. If a buyer is not happy with the levies then buy elsewhere. The solution is simple. Revert all lot entitlements to the level set by the developer. Now is that complicated??

Herb Mandel On September 13, 2014 | Reply

The most unsettling and distressing aspect of the BCCM 1997 is the fact that one Unit owner has the legal right to instigate changes to existing
Lot Entitlements. In most cases these instigators are wealthy Penthouse owners who are able to reduce their original Lot Entitlements and pass the cost on to less fortune ones.
Once a Lot Entitlement Scheme has been registered there should be no way to change it unless so decided at an AGM without dissent.
Herb Mandel

James e Catterall On September 13, 2014 | Reply

There are many serious components to be recognised. However one item that has been seriously overstated relates to ability of one owner to facilitate a change. In most cases where such action has been initiated it has been with the support of many owners, probably a majority.If the legislation had required a majority vote to activate the change the appropriate resolution would have eventuated

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