This week, the Queensland Government passed new body corporate laws aimed at bolstering buyer protections and promoting community living. The laws bring about key changes, including restrictions on developers invoking sunset clauses and measures to address smoking and pet ownership.

The new laws also include reforms to:

  • allow bodies corporate to make by-laws that prohibit smoking on common property or an outdoor area such as a balcony, and to clarify smoking as a nuisance, hazard or unreasonable interference;
  • prevent bodies corporate from making by-laws which create a blanket ban of pets in community titles schemes;
  • clarify and enhance the ability for bodies corporate to tow vehicles from common property in a timely manner;
  • allow an adjudicator to approve to put in place alternative insurance for a body corporate, when it cannot comply with the required level of insurance for particular buildings;
  • enhance by-law enforcement and access to records in layered arrangements of community titles schemes;
  • enhance the code of conduct for body corporate managers and caretaking service contractors;
  • clarify and streamline body corporate administrative and procedural matters; and
  • make minor clarifying amendments to confirm when deposits can be released to developers under ‘off the plan’ contracts. 

The amendments specifically target ‘off the plan’ land purchases, putting a limit on developers’ ability to terminate contracts using sunset clauses. The changes aim to enhance buyer confidence by allowing developers to invoke these clauses only under specific circumstances: with the written consent of the buyer, under a Supreme Court order, or in situations prescribed by regulation. These amendments apply to new contracts and those that have not yet settled.

The new laws will allow termination of a community titles scheme with the support of 75 per cent of lot owners, where the body corporate has agreed it is not economically viable for lot owners to continue to maintain or repair the scheme. This amendment responds to a recommendation by the Queensland University of Technology and aligns with the 2022 Queensland Housing Summit’s goals.

The reforms address various aspects of community living, allowing bodies corporate to make by-laws prohibiting smoking on common property and clarifying smoking as a nuisance or hazard.

Blanket bans on pets in community title schemes are also now prohibited, offering more flexibility to residents who wish to keep pets.

Minister D’Ath said the new limitations on the use of these clauses will give certainty to Queenslanders when purchasing land under an ‘off the plan’ contract.”

“Reforms to scheme termination strike the right balance between protecting property rights and giving unit owners more flexibility in decisions about uneconomic community titles schemes, while also opening up more housing development opportunities.”

Ms D’Ath said also said the health of unit residents will be better protected from second-hand smoke and we have made it easier to keep a much-loved pet while living in an apartment.

Housing Minister, Meaghan Scanlon said the Bill is about weighing the rights of people who want to facilitate new housing projects and terminate expensive, uneconomic title schemes, while also providing protections and safeguards for lot owners.

“Stakeholders made it clear at the Queensland Housing Summit that scheme termination was a key area that required reform to help support getting more supply into the market.

“These changes will make it easier for underutilised sites to be redeveloped for more housing, which is good news Queenslanders looking for a new home.”

Minister D’Ath thanked unit owners, community titles and property industry stakeholders, and the Community Titles Legislation Working Group for their feedback and work on these new laws.

The Office of the Commissioner for Body Corporate and Community Management provides information and dispute resolution services for those who live, invest or work in community titles schemes in Queensland.

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