This article about the easing of COVID-19 restrictions and what that means for QLD Bodies Corporate and residents has been provided by Tower Body Corporate.
With the many challenges and risks created by the ongoing global COVID-19 pandemic, the Queensland government has been successful in acting promptly to pass legislation to protect those living and working in bodies corporate.
A copy of the legislation can be found here: Justice Legislation (COVID-19 Emergency Response—Community Titles Schemes and Other Matters) Regulation 2020.
The legislation came in to effect on 2 October 2020 and expires on 31 December 2020. It would not be unreasonable to expect that if the pandemic worsens, the expiry date may in future be extended.
In summary relief measures contained in the legislation relate to the following:
Steps have been taken to allow for lot owners to remain involved in the decision making processes for their body corporate but doing so remotely, such as:
- Allowing for remote access to both committee, and body corporate meetings.
- Allowing lot owners to lodge votes remotely.
Hygiene and Infection Control
Various measures have been created in order to empower bodies corporate for improved infection control measures, such as:
- The ability to commission additional cleaning works for the common property
- Requiring reasonable hygiene measures for both the body corporate and the committee, such as the use of hand sanitizer, social distancing, and masks.
- Allowing reasonable restrictions of common property to improve hygiene, such as restricting the use of common pools or gymnasiums.
Steps have been taken to assist people who have been put into financial hardship by the pandemic, including:
- Due dates for annual levies can be extended either for individuals or all lot owners.
- The ability to charge lot owners penalty interest on arrears has been suspended between 25 May 2020 and 31 December 2020.
- For levies which were overdue before the 25th May 2020, the body corporate can by ordinary resolution resolve to either waive penalties for levies that are overdue or revoke a discount which was offered for levies made at or before the due date.
- The obligation for a body corporate to automatically commence legal proceedings on debts that are 2 years old has been suspended until 31st December 2020.
It is now easier for a body corporate to borrow money between 25 May 2020 and 31 December 2020. This can now be arranged by passing an ordinary resolution with a total loan amount equivalent of up to $500 per lot. Different limits apply to lots under the small schemes module.
Restricting Common Property Access
The committee has been empowered to restrict access to the common property if reasonably required in order to assist in complying with government health directives, such as quarantine meaures and social distancing.
New legislation allows for digital copies of documents to be provided, instead of requiring physical access to the documents. This is both for body corporate records, as well as documents from the commissioner’s office for copies of documents pertaining to dispute resolution applications.
- Additionally, the commissioner’s office now has the power to waive fees for dispute resolutions document requests, also for dispute resolution applications costs, if it is deemed those fees may cause financial hardship.
Reducing and Refunding Costs
The new legislation provides bodies corporate with the ability to refund lot owners for costs which have been levied for future capital works which have not been commenced or expended.
The new legislation specifically backdates aspects of this legislation in order to provide the above powers in situations where a body corporate meeting may have already been held prior to commencement of the act. For example, allowing a committee which was elected prior to 25th May 2020 with the ability to hold remote meetings and decision-making processes.
For more information, please refer to the state government website.
Have a question about appropriate bodies corporate reactions to the easing COID-19 restrictions or something to add to the article? Leave a comment below.
This article is not intended to be personal advice and you should not rely on it as a substitute for any form of advice.
- QLD: Body Corporate Spending Limits During COVID-19
- QLD: Actions for Your Body Corporate Committee During COVID-19
- QLD: Strata levies and COVID-19
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