Changes to Regulation Modules Under the BCCMA
Agents appointed as property managers or advising body corporate managers need to be aware of changes to the regulation modules under the Body Corporate and Community Management Act 1997 (BCCMA) affecting lots owners and body corporates.
On 1 March 2021, the existing regulation modules made under the BCCMA (Accommodation Module, Commercial Module, Small Schemes Module, Standard Module and Specified Two-Lot Schemes Module) were replaced by new versions of each module.
The replacement of the existing modules essentially validate a number of common body corporate practices. The changes are expected to lead to a reduction of body corporate costs, enhanced protection for lot owners and greater participation in body corporate procedures. Although many changes have been made, the new regulation modules do not completely ‘overhaul’ the existing regulations and it is anticipated that additional changes may be made to the BCCMA in the future.
Impetus for change
Changes to the body corporate regulations follow a review of the BCCMA conducted by the Commercial and Property Law Research Centre of the Queensland University of Technology and its subsequent issues paper and recommendations. Whilst some of the recommendations have not been adopted in the new regulation modules, it is expected that a variety of recommendations may be implemented as changes to the BCCMA at a later date.
Many changes have been made across the modules however we have highlighted what we consider to be the more noteworthy points affecting lot owners, body corporates and developers. The changes are largely consistent across the various modules.
Changes for committee members
The following changes are of particular importance for committee members:
- A committee member is not entitled to vote at a committee meeting or vote outside a committee meeting if, at the time of the vote they owe a body corporate debt, or the entity that nominated them owes a body corporate debt. A proxy cannot be used for a committee member who owes a body corporate debt.
- A time limit of six weeks is imposed on the committee to consider a motion and to make a decision. Previously, no time limit was imposed.
- The committee is not compelled to make a decision on a motion if a lot owner has, within the last 12 months, submitted a motion on the same issue or six or more motions on any issue. (This could lead to disputes amongst committee members and lot owners, ultimately discouraging participation – an outcome that is contrary to one of the main reasons for change, being to encourage participation.)
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Changes to voting
From 1 March 2021:
- There is an ability to facilitate electronic voting and attendance at meetings, including the use of ‘live‘ electronic voting and remote personal attendance by teleconference and videoconference.
- The use of email and other forms of electronic communication for the exchange of information and documents is valid. This means that contact details on the body corporate roll need to be current and accurate, as any details provided to the body corporate may be used as an address for service or delivery of documents.
- Procedures have been improved whereby multiple motions submitted on the same issue can be dealt with as a group of same-issue motions.
General body corporate practices
- A body corporate is required to consider a motion proposing the engagement of an appropriately qualified person to prepare a defect assessment report. This should result in the identification of any building defects sooner so that the body corporate can adequately prepare for potential future outlays / works.
- A body corporate manager (where authorised by the body corporate) may exercise some or all of the powers of the secretary of the body corporate. This change should facilitate processes being conducted in the absence of the body corporate secretary, in line with the aim of streamlining body corporate practices.
Overall, the replacement of the existing regulations on 1 March 2021 should result in more efficient body corporate practices by enabling electronic voting and imposing time limits on various motions and procedural practices, as well as encouraging further participation by lot owners who are not part of the committee. It is important to note that all existing schemes that fall under the modules will be affected by these changes. Lot owners, bodies corporate, body corporate managers and committees should note that the processes previously implemented and followed may need to be updated as of 1 March 2021 as a result of the changes to the regulation modules.