Office of the Commissioner – Dealing with COVID-19 in Bodies Corporate
March 27, 2020
Bodies corporate and residents should consider the impact of COVID-19 on their body corporate, including what steps may be appropriate to limit transmission of the virus and to look after the interests of all residents and workers in the scheme.
Bodies corporate and their committees have a statutory obligation to act ‘reasonably’. This means your actions in response to the COVID-19 pandemic need to balance the rights of individuals with the needs of other owners and occupiers and the broader community.
Some bodies corporate may consider:
- reminding all residents, workers and guests of the importance of practising appropriate hygiene (e.g. handwashing) and social distancing
- checking the wording of any by-laws to see if there is a requirement for owners or occupiers to disclose if they have an infectious disease.
- restrictions on the use of common areas (including facilities like pools and gyms), particularly for anyone diagnosed with COVID-19—or who is required to self-isolate.
Your committee may consider:
- avoiding face-to-face meetings unless they are essential
- practicing appropriate hygiene and social distancing when meetings are held
- holding meetings remotely (e.g. by telephone, video conference, skype)—the legislation does not prevent this practice
- the need for a quorum at meetings does not mean that committee members need to be physically present in the room
- committees can also utilise its capacity to vote outside committee meetings.
Bodies corporate may consider:
- deferring general meetings unless there is urgent or essential business to consider—particularly in larger schemes
- the ability to seek approval from an adjudicator for annual general meetings to be held outside the legislative timeframe. Lean more about expeditable orders
- where meetings are held. You can encourage owners to submit voting papers instead of attending the meeting personally (or to vote electronically if your body corporate has approved electronic voting)
- that you may only need 1 or 2 people to be present personally at a general meeting to form a quorum (depending on the size of the scheme)
- encouraging other voters to submit written votes or participate in meetings remotely (e.g. by telephone, video conference, skype) if the body corporate can facilitate such participation
- approving expenditure above the committee spending limit with written consent from all owners—reducing the need for general meetings, particularly in smaller schemes
- that general meeting motions can be approved with a vote outside a meeting in schemes registered under the Small Schemes and Commercial Modules.
As long as bodies corporate make reasonable attempts to comply with the legislative requirements for holding general meetings, instances of non-compliance that do not affect the voting outcomes will be unlikely to affect the validity of meetings.
Maintenance of common property
A body corporate must maintain common property in good condition.
The body corporate may need to consider the need for additional cleaning of common areas and facilities.
Body corporate levies
Some lot owners may have difficulty paying body corporate levies.
The levies are set based on the budget adopted at the annual general meeting, so the body corporate can decide how much the levies are and when they are due.
The body corporate can revoke or amend motions passed at previous general meetings. This may include motions approving the budget or setting the levies.
Once a motion has been passed, it can be amended or revoked by a resolution of the same type.
A body corporate may consider:
- amending or revoking a previously passed budget motion
- amending or revoking a previously passed levy motion so that they can be reduced
- changing the dates that the levies are due.
Each body corporate needs to consider its own circumstances and that of the owners when making a decision.
Read more about what budgets need to include.
Penalties, discounts and recovery costs
The body corporate can decide by ordinary resolution to revoke a previous decision of the body corporate to either:
- impose penalties on levies paid after the due date
- apply a discount to levies paid on or before the due date.
In special circumstances, committees can decide to take these actions for owners who are late in paying their levies:
- waive all or part of penalty interest
- waive all or part of debt recovery costs
- apply discounts.
Read more about levies.
Our office is now closed to visits from the general public—we are taking email and phone enquiries only. We will not accept counter enquires and you can’t inspect submissions about dispute applications in the office.
As a temporary measure, we will conduct all conciliations via telephone to prevent any face-to-face contact or the need to travel on public transport for our clients.
Otherwise it is business as usual at the Office of the Commissioner for Body Corporate and Community management, and any changes to the status of our office will be communicated via our Common Ground newsletter subscribers and our website.
This information was first published on 26 March 2020 by the Office of the Commissioner and Community Management
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