A question so often considered by body corporate committees and lot owners is: who is responsible for maintaining what parts of the property?

In each situation, solving the answer to this question requires a good understanding of:

  • the Body Corporate and Community Management Act 1997 (Qld) and associated Regulations
  • the Land Title Act 1994 (Qld)
  • the type of plan of subdivision that applies to the body corporate scheme land
  • a body corporate scheme’s by-laws.

A body corporate scheme consists of lots (at least two) and common property.

A body corporate must maintain the common property in good condition, and the owners of the lots must maintain their lots.

Whilst this seems a straightforward principle, it can become complicated depending upon what type of survey plan applies to the scheme and the part of property that is in question.

There are several types of survey plans, but the two most commonly used are:

  • building format plans (formerly known as building unit plan)
  • standard format plans (formerly known as group title plan).

The applicable plan type will dictate the boundaries of the common property and lots, which in turn determines who is responsible for maintenance of the parts of the property.

In a building format plan a lot is defined by a building’s structure, and the boundary of a lot is the centre of the floors, ceilings, and walls. Most apartment buildings will be registered under this type of plan. Where it applies, the body corporate must maintain the common property as well as parts of the property that are not common property- namely:

  • railings, parapets and balustrades
  • doors, windows and associated fittings situated in a boundary wall
  • roofing membranes
  • foundation structures, roofing structures that provide protection, and essential supporting framework, including load-bearing walls.

In a standard format plan a lot is defined by marks in the grounds or edges of structural elements (i.e. buildings).  Most townhouse complexes will be registered under this type of plan.  Where it applies, the exceptions to the body corporate’s maintenance obligations are far less limited (compared to a building format plan) because the owner is responsible for maintenance of the entirety of their lot, which extends to the edge of the building.  The body corporate is, however, responsible for maintaining utility infrastructure which services more than one lot.

There are other reasons by which the maintenance obligations of a body corporate and lot owners are varied, including where there has been a grant of exclusive use or where an owner installs fixtures or fittings for their own benefit.

If you have a question about a body corporate matter, please get in touch with our lawyers who have a special interest in this area: Rhiannon Saunders on (07) 40461118 or Michael Huelin on (07) 40461177.