All you need to know about body corporates
NOISE, smoking, pets and parking are usually the most contentious issues when living a strata-titled property.

For those intending to buy a unit or townhouse within a
complex for the first time, body corporate by-laws may create some confusion.

Archers North
Queensland senior body corporate manager Stephen McCulloch said each
arrangement may differ. However, generally, the body corporate is usually
responsible for governance matters in a complex, including financial management
and enforcing by-laws. “It is solely responsible for managing the common
property of the scheme and pays the cost of insurance, external building
maintenance, maintenance of the grounds and ­gardens and swimming pool,” he

It also includes managing the maintenance of lifts, gates, ­motors
and pool pumps. Mr McCulloch said there were several advantages in buying into
a strata title complex, which included sharing the cost of building upkeep,
being ­eligible for tax deductions if the property is an investment and having
a structure in place to ­attend to building defects.

But having several owners invested in one complex may not
suit every buyer. “Owners in a unit complex from time to time assume that, by
virtue of them being an owner in a complex, that they have the right to do
whatever they wish. This may be the case in a non-strata property but the
communal environment of a unit complex means all owners must be conscious of
the impact that their behaviour may have on a neighbour.

“The issues that are usually create the most friction
include noise, smoking, pets and ­parking.” Branch manager for Body Corporate
Services Lorraine Murray said annual costs for body corporate fees could range
from between $2500 and $10000 for larger complexes.

“This is a touchy question because this can vary enormously
depending upon decisions made by the body corporate in relation to the
management of their finances,” Ms Murray said. “(For investors) body corporate
levies are mostly tax deductible; the owner can choose to be as involved (or
otherwise) in the decisions of the body corporate as they wish, and they still
have a vote in all major decisions.”

Ms Murray advised unit or townhouse hunters to understand
the body corporate they were potentially buying into. “Research and understand
exactly what the body corporate is responsible for and what the owner remains
responsible for,” she said. “Join the committee if you can and work together to
make decisions and always remember: try and keep emotions out of the
decisionmaking ­process and make decisions that are in the best interest of the
body corporate.”