A Qld lot owner asks whether residents can be confined to their own floors during the COVID-19 lockdown. Chris Irons, Hynes Legal provides the following response. This information was correct at time of publishing.
Jump directly to the QUESTION you are after:
- QUESTION: Our Body Corporate will not open our gym or BBQ and seating area around the pool due to COVID 19. We feel that we are being treated unfairly.
- QUESTION: During the COVID-19 lockdown, can Body Corporate request residents keep to their own floor unless there is some compelling reason to do otherwise?
Question: Our Body Corporate will not open our gym or BBQ and seating area around the pool due to COVID 19. We feel that we are being treated unfairly.
Our Body Corporate will not open our gym or BBQ and seating area around the pool due to COVID 19. Owners that reside on the property are frustrated that they are not opening these areas and frankly, have had enough.
Most owners need to use the gym for health reasons. We already had in place the self-cleaning of equipment before and after use with hand sanitizer, and using your own towel etc. available prior to COVID-19.
They will not communicate to us about these matters and ignore answering emails sent to them via the managing Body Corporate.
I hope you can advise us what we can do because we feel that we are being treated unfairly as they keep ignoring the requests to open these facilities.
Answer: You may wish to consider requesting an extraordinary general meeting to have the closure of facilities revisited and potentially overturned.
You may wish to consider requesting an extraordinary general meeting to have the closure of facilities revisited and potentially overturned. You’ll need signatures from 25% of all owners for that to occur. Based on your email you shouldn’t have a problem achieving that.v
All eligible lot owners can then vote on the motion and if it doesn’t pass – or the meeting isn’t called – you can challenge that through the Commissioner’s Office. In general terms, while committees are responsible for day-to-day decision making, they don’t have absolute powers and there are some thing they are not permitted to do by law. These are known as restricted issues and there have certainly been cases in which closing shared facilities has been found to be a restricted issue.
A note of caution: as I’m sure you are well aware, the situation with COVID can change very quickly. While there’s no health directives at present requiring closure of facilities such as pools and gyms, there certainly was once and that means there could be again. Bear in mind that by the time you get to your meeting, COVID requirements could be very different and the outcome you seek no longer as relevant. There may also be very good reasons why your gym and pool are closed – although, of course, you don’t know either way, because there’s seemingly been no minutes about any decisions.
This post appears in Strata News #404.
Question: During the COVID-19 lockdown, can Body Corporate request residents keep to their own floor unless there is some compelling reason to do otherwise?
I have a question regarding building access during this time of Social distancing and lockdown.
Can the Body Corporate send a request to all residents asking them to follow social distancing rules by keeping to their own buildings and their own floors unless there is some compelling reason to do otherwise?
Answer: If the body corporate proposes to restrict access to common property, it needs to follow proper decision-making processes.
There is a world of difference between ‘requesting’ someone do something and ‘compelling’ or ‘ordering’ them to do something, or suggesting that it is an order. So the body corporate is perfectly entitled to ‘request’ residents to do what you describe. Similarly, you can ‘request’ these kinds of things if you want.
Access to different parts of your building or different floors may be a slightly different story. The body corporate is responsible for maintaining common property and if it proposes to restrict access to common property, it needs to follow proper decision-making processes.
Again though, it’s important to be clear what we’re talking about – if it’s a communication from the body corporate with helpful suggestions about preventing the spread of COVID-19, including restricting movement within the building, then not only is that fine, it’s actually pretty admirable and socially responsible. If it’s a communication saying you’re no longer allowed to access a part of the building that you are usually able to access, that might be a very different story.
More to the point, if you’re following social distancing or self-isolation directives of government during this time, I’m not sure why you would be wanting to travel to other floors or parts of the building anyway unless it falls within the ‘essential’ category.
This post appears in Strata News #339.
Have a question about residents being confined during the COVID-19 lockdown or something to add to the article? Leave a comment below.
- NAT: Q&A Closing Strata Pool & Gym Because of Coronavirus (COVID-19)
- NAT: Coronavirus & Strata – What Does the Legislation Say? Not Much!
- QLD: Q&A Resident Managers Cleaning Common Areas – COVID-19
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