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Body Corporate - Gold Coast Units Australia

More and more investors are experiecing problems when purchasing Real Estate investment units on Queensland's Gold Coast in Australia. Many do not understand the Body Corporate system that governs the management of many complexes and high rise buildings. The majority of units and town houses on the Gold Coast are governed by the BCCM Act which is Queensland Government legislation. Each town house or unit complex forms a Body Corporate and is required to comply with the Act.

Many purchasers do not understand that all owners are responsible for the running and management of the building or complex that they own. They do this through an elected commitee of owners and delegate various tasks to:

  • The Body Corporate Manager who is basically an administrator who acts, or should act, on the advice of the Committee.
  • Caretaker or On Site Manager who is responsible for the general maintenance of the property. The Caretaker/On Site Manager is contracted to the Body Corporate and, generally, reports to and takes direction from the elected Committee.

The Committee controls budgets, maintenance, expenditure and the general direction for the complex. Many owners take little or no interest in these matters and prefer to leave it to someone else to look after. As a result, Committees can be made up of just a few owners who can decide the future of the building. Issues like painting of the building, maintenance of roof structures, performance of the Caretaker and Body Corporate Manager, determination of levies are all dealt with by a Committee.

The majority of Committee members are not reimbursed for their efforts. Consequently, it is inevtible that, in some cases, issues can be neglected sometimes resulting in costly levy increases. Personality clashes are often a strong feature of Body Corporate Committees with many owners often having a different view of how the building should progress in the future.

Individual owners can also have a huge influence on the future direction of a building through motions that can be put forward at General Meetings. Any owner is able to place a motion on the Agenda and owners vote on whether it will or will not be passed. Some motions have had a significant impact on the value of investment properties in the past but many owners do not take the time to research the implications of the motion and many do not bother to vote.

There are a few major tips that you should never take too lightly when purchasing a unit on the Gold Coast.

  • Do a thorough search of Body Corporate committee meeting and general meeting minutes.
  • Check the balance of the Sinking Fund and ascertain if there is enough cash in the fund to cover contingiencies
  • Look for issues arising in recent and past minutes of committee meetings that could result in problems eg major defects to be rectified, problems with the Caretakers, issues with by laws.
  • Do a thorough search of the by laws and acquaint yourself with any restrictions eg policy on pets, noise, car parking etc.
  • Try to speak to the Chairman or another Committee member and ask if there are any issues that you should be aware of.
  • Speak to the Body Corporate Manager and the On Site Manager/Caretaker.

Do not rely on your solicitor to obtain this information through searches. There is a limit to what they will do for the payment they receive and you can do this job far more thoroughly yourself.

Remember, the owners control the direction that the building takes. If you do decide to purchase, be prepared to take an interest in and contribute to the affairs of the building. Consider nominating as a committee member or if you are unable to spare the time, consider nominating a family member to represent your interests.

There are many horror stories where purchasers have bought into a building that is surrounded in legal issues and conflict. Generally, much of this information could easily have been found in a simple search of Body Corporate records but, in many cases, no one bothers to do the search until it is too late.

The old axiom always applies - buyer beware. Do you homework and you will be better off in the long run.

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