This article was published by Look Up Strata – Strata Property Blog here and is reproduced for your information below.
This article providing COVID-19 Frequently asked questions for Queensland strata properties has been supplied by Jane Wilson, Acting Commissioner for Body Corporate and Community Management. This information was correct at time of publishing.
Q1. Can we delay our body corporate annual general meeting due to COVID-19?
Yes. A body corporate committee can make a decision to postpone annual general meetings (AGM). Generally, an AGM must be held within three months of the end of the body corporate’s financial year. However, if a body corporate determines it would be reasonable to postpone an AGM based on advice from health authorities, and it would fall outside of the legislated timeframe, it can apply to the Commissioner’s office for an adjudicator’s order. More information about these types of orders can be found in Practice Direction 19.
Alternatively, if a body corporate decides to proceed with an AGM, the committee should consider other options for meetings, including practising social distancing and using technology where available.
Q2. If we decide to proceed with a meeting, how do we make sure people don’t attend in person?
Currently, only two people need to be present personally to form a quorum for a body corporate meeting, so it may be reasonable for the body corporate to encourage all others to return a voting paper by email or post. Bodies corporate may also wish to include details in meeting notices on how members can attend by telephone or video conference.
People who plan to attend a meeting in person should consider social distancing guidelines from health authorities and any restrictions currently in place.
Q3. Are body corporate gymnasiums and pools included in the Prime Minister’s shutdown of non-essential services?
Body corporate legislation does not provide this level of detail, so we are unable to provide advice on this. Bodies corporate need to make reasonable decisions in the interests of all owners and occupiers.
Announcements from the Prime Minister are available on the Prime Minister’s Media Centre and Queensland Health.
Q4. Can a body corporate committee close a shared pool area?
A body corporate committee can make decisions about the appropriate use of common property and it must act reasonably when making decisions.
A caretaking service contractor does not have the authority to make decisions on behalf of the body corporate.
Q5. Can a body corporate reduce the cost of our contribution levies or postpone when they are due?
The body corporate adopts the budgets and sets the levies at the annual general meeting by passing a motion by ordinary resolution. The body corporate can decide to amend the motion about the levies and set different due dates. Motions are amended by the same type of resolution that they originally passed.
Budgets need to allow for spending that is necessary and reasonable to meet the anticipated expenditure of the body corporate over 10 years. The body corporate may be able to revise the budget and remove or adjust the funds required for particular projects. If this is the case the body corporate may consider amending or revoking the previously passed budget motion and setting reduced levies.
Q6. I have lost my job. Will I have to pay late penalties if my body corporate levies are overdue?
If your body corporate has previously made a decision to have penalties apply to late payments, then yes, you may be charged interest and/or debt recovery costs. However, the body corporate committee can decide to waive penalties and debt recovery costs in special circumstances. You need to write to the body corporate committee and ask it to consider your request and circumstances as it is not an automatic process. The committee must act reasonably when making its decision.
Q7. Do the social distancing rules apply in body corporate lifts?
The Federal Government has provided social distancing guidelines based on expert information from health authorities. People who reside in or visit community titles schemes should use their best judgement when deciding to enter a crowded lift. The body corporate may decide it is reasonable to display signage reminding residents of social distancing guidelines in common areas, including lifts.
Q8. Do owners have to notify the body corporate if they are infected with COVID-19?
A body corporate may make a by-law that requires people to notify the body corporate that they have an infectious disease but this may be difficult to enforce.
Q9. Our body corporate / caretaker has sent out a health survey to all residents and threatened to not allow us into the building unless we complete it. Do we have to complete this survey?
Body corporate legislation does not provide bodies corporate or caretakers with a power to require people to complete a survey about their health. Nor does the legislation give power to a caretaker to prevent owners or occupiers from entering their lots or common property.
Q10. Who cleans the complex if one of the lot owners gets sick and contaminates it?
The body corporate must maintain any common property in good condition. This may include cleaning common property if it becomes contaminated.
Q11. We have people who are staying in a unit in our complex that is a short term rental through air BnB. They are only staying for two weeks. Do they have to tell us if they are in self-isolation?
No. Body corporate legislation does not compel occupiers to disclose the circumstances for staying in a property. Bodies corporate need to remember that just because someone is in self-isolation, it does not mean that they have the COVID-19 infection.
Bodies corporate should stay up to date on the COVID-19 health situation, including monitoring advice from Queensland Health and announcements from state and federal authorities.