What Is A Body Corporate?

Written by Sarah Williams Posted On Wednesday, 05 August 2020 21:59

Whether you’re buying or renting an apartment, you’ve likely come across the term body corporate at some stage in your property journey. However, whilst it may be well known as a name or phrase, many people are still unsure as to the role of a body corporate.  If you are aware of what body corporate services usually entail but would like to gain an understanding of their responsibilities to discern how your management provider stacks up, let’s familiarise ourselves with what a typical body corporate looks like and their active roles.

Who is part of the body corporate?

You, the owner of your unit/apartment property, are a member of the body corporate as well as your neighbours who own or rent homes within that complex.  Only when an owner sells do they leave the body corporate, and the level of engagement and contact within the body will vary depending on several factors, but this will take the form of postal and email notifications and body corporate meetings

The body corporate also comprises the legal entity with which contracts can be drawn, and legal proceedings can be pursued, under the support of its owner committee. When you buy such property, there will be a body corporate in place. While these providers can change periodically, it’s not common, as there needs to be a majority in support of finding a new body corporate to serve the owner’s committee.

Supervising common property

If you are buying a unit within a large complex that has a pool, BBQ space, laundry, gym, central lifts, gardens or private roads, you must understand that these common spaces are owned by the body corporate. Yes, this means that you have a stake in these amenities and assets, but ultimately, it is up to the body corporate to preserve and manage this usage as is decided by the collective. These terms of use dictated by the body corporate are usually in accordance with public liability best practices, so it’s important to know what this includes and the penalties for not following these rules.

Mediation and dispute resolution

Dispute resolution takes place under the mediation of body corporate, acting as a third party entity which serves the greater good of the owner’s committee. This takes the conflict out of the hands of emotional residents so that an equitable and non-confrontational outcome can be reached and rules or reform can be implemented to correct any issues. Typical disputes and mediation will be noise pollution, use and respect of common property and, maintenance and security threats or oversights. 

Legal compliance and maintenance standards 

An effective body corporate is a compliant one, and that includes appropriate public liability insurance to protect owners and tenants in the event of an injury occurs onsite, or there is damage to the complex environment. Such cover and other economic benefits are a task for the body corporate to procure, which includes staying abreast of the city council and national legislation changes that might impact the location and the cover needed.

Maintenance is also a key priority for a body corporate, especially when many common properties are being used by a high volume of residents. Electronic gates, car parks, lighting and fuse box inspections are common body corporate maintenance you will expect throughout the year, especially when these areas are linked to insurance compliance. There may also be landscaping, and scheduled window cleans that are committed to by the owner’s committee.

While it might seem complex in theory, the practical benefits of a proactive body corporate cannot be understated, with so many daily amenities made simply by the work that happens behind the scene. Attending body corporate meetings and engaging with communications will give you a greater understanding of what is possible and how you can contribute to a better owner’s committee.

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