Body corporate arrangements exist to provide flexible and contemporary private building ownership with shared communal areas, by balancing the rights of the individuals with the management arrangements under a community title scheme.
QCAT can consider complex disputes, lot entitlement adjustments and appeals in relation to adjudicator decisions. The below information will assist with understanding the process for making an application to QCAT.
What do you need to know about body corporate and community management schemes?
Before you start the QCAT dispute resolution process, you can learn about body corporate and community management schemes.
The Queensland Government website (BCCM Office) also has comprehensive information about body corporate and community title schemes to assist you in understanding your rights and responsibilities. You can find further information here.
Community titles schemes allow for flexible living arrangements where a person can privately own an area of land or part of a building as well as share common property areas with other owners.
A community titles scheme may include any:
- residential unit block
- high rise accommodation complex
- shopping complex
- business park
Common property may include, for example:
- a shared driveway
- letterbox area to communal lifts and stairways
- swimming pools
- tennis courts
You have certain rights and responsibilities for your own property, but also the common property shared with other owners within your scheme or complex.
The body corporate for a community titles scheme is composed of all the owners in the scheme. Every new owner automatically becomes a member of the body corporate. The body corporate must comply with the Body Corporate and Community Management Act 1997 (the BCCM Act) and regulations.
The body corporate (owners or their representatives) make decisions on cases with shared responsibility. These include:
- maintenance and management of common property, including equipment and services
- determining levies (financial contributions) which owners must pay to fund its operation
- public risk insurance
- any compulsory building insurance;
- establishing and enforcing by-laws (rules) relating to the management and control of lots and the common property
The body corporate must elect a committee at each annual general meeting. The committee consists of executive members (a chairperson, secretary and treasurer) and any ordinary members.
The body corporate has legislative powers to carry out its necessary duties.
The body corporate:
- maintains, manages and controls the common property on behalf of owners
- decides the amounts to be paid by the owners to make sure the body corporate can operate
- makes and enforces its own rules, called by-laws, which tell owners and other people who live in the scheme what they can and cannot do
- takes out insurance on behalf of owners, such as public risk insurance over the common property and building insurance
- manages and controls body corporate assets
- keeps records for the body corporate, including minutes of meetings, roll of owner’s details, financial accounts, registers of assets, improvements to common property by owners, engagements and authorisations
The body corporate makes decisions about these and other things at general meetings and through the committee.
The body corporate may engage a body corporate manager to supply administrative services to the body corporate, such as (insert example i.e. sending out levy notices to owners).
Lot entitlements in community titles schemes set out each owner’s:
- body corporate costs and voting rights
- share of common property and other assets
- lot value for calculating government rates and other charges.
Lot entitlements are set by the original owner (the developer) when the community titles scheme is established.
Lot entitlement schedules for your community titles scheme are recorded in a document called the community management statement.
What is the body corporate disputes process?
If a body corporate dispute arises, you can learn more about where you need to go for most disputes and cases you can bring to QCAT directly. Read below for more information.
If you have a dispute with the body corporate, the committee or another owner or occupier, you must try to resolve the dispute informally with the other party first. There are also other steps you need to consider such as conciliation and adjudication of the dispute.
The Office of the Commissioner for Body Corporate and Community Management (the BCCM office) is the primary authority to assist with resolving body corporate disputes in the first instance, and not QCAT. The BCCM office deals with most body corporate and community management scheme disputes. QCAT only considers specific body corporate disputes.
If a dispute does arise with the body corporate, the committee or another owner or occupier you should first consider the information and processes set out on the Queensland Government website in relation to resolving body corporate and community management scheme disputes. The BCCM office sets out clear instructions on how to resolve a body corporate dispute when it arises, including resolving disputes informally or through adjudication before making an application to QCAT. You can find further information about this here.
The BCCM office also has comprehensive information to assist you in understanding body corporate and community management rights and responsibilities. You can find further information here.
If you cannot resolve your dispute you can read further below about disputes and other cases you can bring to QCAT.
The Body Corporate and Community Management Act 1997 sets out specific guidelines for which disputes QCAT can consider directly. QCAT considers the following disputes related to body corporate and community management issues:
- lot entitlement adjustments; and
- complex disputes, including disputes:
- arising from a review of the terms of a contract engaging a service contractor
- about the transfer of the letting agent’s management rights
- about a claimed or anticipated contractual case about the authorisation of the letting agent
- about a claimed or anticipated contractual case about the body corporate manager or caretaking service contractor; or
- about exclusive use by-laws
(For further details please see Body Corporate and Community Management Act 1997)
Adjudicators may be involved in resolving body corporate and community management disputes through the Office of the Commissioner for Body Corporate and Community Management (the BCCM office) also. If a party is dissatisfied with an order made by the adjudicator, they can apply to the QCAT Appeals Tribunal to appeal body corporate adjudication orders on a question of law only.
An application to QCAT to resolve a complex dispute may only be brought by, or against, certain persons. This includes:
- a body corporate
- a body corporate manager
- a caretaking service contractor
- a letting agent; or
- a service contractor
An application to the QCAT Appeals Tribunal appealing a decision of an adjudicator can be made by:
- the applicant or respondent in the original application
- the body corporate
- persons who made submissions in the original application; or
- affected and other persons
An application to QCAT for orders for an adjustment of a lot entitlement schedule may only be brought by the owner of a lot in the community titles scheme.
(For further information view the Body Corporate and Community Management Act 1997)
When you file an application in a body corporate dispute, QCAT may:
- issue directions to the parties. Directions are instructions to the parties involved on how the case will proceed. The directions will include time for filing of evidence, other material and joining of further parties if required;
- list the case for a directions hearing or further dispute resolution proceeding to assist the parties to reach agreement, if required;
- ask the parties to gather and file their evidence to support their side of the argument. This may include a requirement for the parties to engage experts to provide expert evidence for consideration by QCAT;
- list the case for a hearing, after the parties have filed their evidence; and
- after the hearing, QCAT will then make a final decision based on the law and the evidence provided by the parties.
Participating in the body corporate dispute process can take a considerable length of time and resources and parties should consider other options to resolve the dispute with the other party before making an application to QCAT.
If you are named as the respondent in a body corporate dispute and you are unsure what is required of you, do not worry. QCAT will guide you through the process.
There are some key steps you need to take as the respondent in a body corporate dispute. You must:
- ensure you have read the above information about body corporate disputes and understand the process for resolving disputes;
- attempt to resolve the dispute informally to avoid unnecessary costs in time and resources; and
- file a response to the dispute using the correct response form.
To learn more about what happens next in the process and how to respond please click here.
What can I do if a body corporate committee refuses a request to keep pets in a rental property?
From 1 October 2022 rental law changes begin which include introducing a framework to support negotiations about renting with pets.
If a body corporate committee refuses a request to keep pet/s in a rental property under a body corporate because it contravenes a body corporate by-law, please refer to the BCCM website for further details to resolve a dispute.
Will the Queensland Civil and Administrative Appeal Tribunal obtain a copy of the file from the BCCM office if I appeal an adjudication decision to QCAT?
Yes. When you file your appeal, the Queensland Civil and Administrative Appeal Tribunal will request a copy of the original file from the BCCM office including the original application made, the adjudicator’s reasons and any other material in the adjudicator’s possession relevant to the order. This will be provided to the appeal tribunal when your appeal is considered.
What should I do as an individual unit owner if the body corporate or body corporate manager sends me a copy of an application filed by another unit owner, seeking to adjust our lot entitlement?
As an individual unit owner you do not have to do anything. The body corporate or body corporate manager is responsible for filing a response and you are not entitled to make submissions in relation to the application. If you have any queries regarding the application you should discuss these directly with the body corporate or body corporate manager.
What should I do, as an individual unit owner, if I consider that the body corporate is not able to best represent my legal position in a lot entitlement case?
You should first discuss any concern you have with the body corporate. If you feel that they are still unable to best represent your legal position you should seek legal advice.
How long after a contribution lot entitlement schedule has been adjusted by QCAT, must the body corporate lodge a new community management statement?
The body corporate must as quickly as practicable, lodge a request to record a new community management statement which reflects the adjustment order.
When does the adjusted contribution lot entitlement schedule take effect?
The Community Management Statement takes effect under the Land Title Act 1994 when it is registered.
When filing an application for a lot entitlement adjustment, why do I have to attach a title search and where can I obtain this?
You need to attach the title search as proof that you own your lot. To conduct a title search please go to Titles Queensland at www.titlesqld.com.au or call them on (07) 3497 3479)
If you have considered the above information and your dispute falls within QCAT’s jurisdiction, you need to consider the costs that will be incurred and take these into account before you apply. These include:
- an initial application fee
- costs and time taken to complete the dispute process and attend proceedings; and
- costs you may incur to comply with the QCAT’s decision or directions
You should consider if there are options to resolve the dispute informally without the need to make an application to QCAT.
The time for QCAT to finalise a matter may vary depending on QCAT’s workload and the number of steps to be completed by parties as required by QCAT to resolve the dispute . The current average time to review and finalise your matter in the other civil disputes jurisdiction can be found on our expected timeframes page.
How do I make an application about a body corporate case?
To make an application, please select your case type from the list below:
Help and further information
Queensland legislation related to domestic and commercial building disputes includes the:
- Body Corporate and Community Management Act 1997
- Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal Act 2009
The Acts are available from the Office of the Queensland Parliamentary Counsel.
You can access a range of databases which keep records of previous decisions about body corporate and community management scheme disputes. This includes previous decisions made by:
- QCAT and QCATA after 1 December 2009 which can be found in the other civil disputes section of the Supreme Court of Queensland Library
QCAT registry staff cannot give you legal advice in civil cases and are not involved in QCAT decision making.
For legal advice
- Contact the private solicitor of your choice
- Use Queensland Law Society’s Find a Solicitor service
- Contact Legal Aid Queensland on 1300 65 11 88
- Contact Community Legal Centres Queensland for details on your local community legal centre on 07 3392 0092
For assistance in legal proceedings
LawRight Court and QCAT Services
LawRight is an independent, non-profit community based legal organisation that coordinates pro bono legal services for individuals and community groups. Parties with proceedings in QCAT may be able to obtain assistance from LawRight’s Court and QCAT Services to self-represent or, in limited circumstances, be given representation.
If you are unsure whether you are eligible for assistance from LawRight, or wish to make an enquiry, contact the service by phone on 07 3564 7561 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by writing to PO Box 12217, George Street QLD 4003.
To apply for help from LawRight, please complete an application form. If you are unable to complete the online form, contact LawRight to discuss alternative arrangements.
Community legal centres
Caxton Legal Centre
The Caxton Legal Centre is an independent, non-profit community organisation providing free legal and social work advice, assistance and referrals to the general public. Please note that the Caxton Legal Centre does not provide advice about building or other business and commercial disputes.
Women's Legal Service
Women's Legal Service is a community legal centre that provides free legal advice and information to women in Queensland.
Youth Advocacy Centre
The Youth Advocacy Centre offers free confidential legal and welfare assistance to young people under 17 years who live in or around Brisbane. Telephone support is also provided to young people outside of Brisbane and throughout Queensland.
The Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal (QCAT)’s registry is here to administer your matter and provide general information. Please see below what registry staff can and cannot do to assist with your matter.
Registry staff can:
* answer questions about QCAT processes
* provide information about QCAT’s different types of forms that are available for your consideration
* provide you with information and support about how to lodge an application
* refer and/or process any request to access the QCAT register of proceedings (a publicly available list of QCAT cases) or the record of proceedings (the case files themselves)
* advise on fees and allowances, and how to apply for a waiver of fees
* guide you in checking your forms are complete before lodgement (e.g. signed in the correct places)
* give you information on legal organisations that could help.
Registry staff cannot:
* provide legal advice
* advise on whether you should submit an application and whether you are filing under the correct legal area (eg minor civil dispute – consumer or trader or minor civil dispute – minor debt)
* tell you if you should lodge an appeal or a counter-application
* recommend a specific lawyer to assist you
* instruct you on how to word your application, supporting documents or what to say at a proceeding
* contact a QCAT member or adjudicator directly on your behalf
* predict likely outcomes of a case or appeal
* help you prepare your case
* advise what orders or decisions you should seek
* explain what you should do to follow QCAT directions
* recommend your next steps regarding enforcing an order or tribunal decision
* advise on exact timeframes for resolution of a matter – this depends on your individual matter