After a very long wait, the Queensland Government has today published new BCCM Regulation Modules that will commence on 1 March 2021.
For the most part, the changes in these 2020 Regulations simply legitimise many modern practices, such as electronic voting. Importantly, the new Regulations will close a loophole that developed whereby powers of attorney would be “farmed” and used by a single person to control outcomes in general meeting to avoid the restrictions on proxy voting.
Other changes may cause a stir. For example, lot owners will be entitled to submit up to six motions in a 12-month period that the committee is required to make a decision on within six weeks. Many will applaud this empowerment of lot owners. Others will sceptically wait to see whether this change improves community participation or simply vexes the day-to-day operations of a committee.
Information you can access
Grace Lawyers partnered with Strata Community Association (Qld) to produce an information sheet on the changes to the Standard Module Regulation that incorporate references to the other modules that can be accessed here.
You can also access copies of these new Modules and an explanatory note going over the changes to the Standard Module here:
- Standard Module Regulation 2020
- Accommodation Module Regulation 2020
- Commercial Module Regulation 2020
- Small Schemes Module Regulation 2020
- The amendments to the Specified Two-lot Schemes Module
- Explanatory note
Overview of the most significant changes
The industry will not have to start from scratch with these new regulation modules. They are not an “overhaul”. Rather, the existing regulation modules have been preserved with some improvements to address obvious loopholes and complications, to recognise the validity of modern strata administration practices, and to give lot owners some additional rights.
- A body corporate may approve and operate a system for electronic voting on all motions and ballots in a general meeting, even if a secret vote or ballot is required. A body corporate may now agree with a lot owner to give documents and information electronically.
- Lot owners will be entitled to submit up to six motions in a 12-month period that the committee is required to make a decision on within six weeks (although that period can be extended for another six weeks).
- A committee member will be ineligible to vote on a committee motion or in a committee meeting if they are a lot owner who owes a body corporate debt, or if they are not a lot owner but the owner who nominated them owes a body corporate debt.
- Committee members will only be allowed to receive a benefit from a caretaker or another service contractor in very limited circumstances, or if the receipt of the benefit is authorised by ordinary resolution.
- A ‘motion with alternatives’ has been replaced with a new concept for the grouping of same-issue motions. Votes can now be cast on all motions grouped together because they deal with the same issue, and the motion that receives the most votes in favour will be the body corporate’s decision. This avoids the current confusion caused when alternatives require different resolution types.
- A body corporate may decide to change the required quorum for a general meeting to as low as 10%.
- A person may hold a power of attorney to vote on behalf of only one other person, unless they are a family member, or it is a power of attorney given to the original owner under sections 211 or 219 of the BCCM Act.
- Body corporate managers and caretaking service contractors will now be required to disclose the monetary amount of any commission, payment or other benefit received before the body corporate decides to enter into a contract for the supply of goods or services (ie insurance).
- A body corporate will be required to include on the agenda of its second AGM a motion to decide whether to have a building defects assessment carried out.
- It has been clarified that a body corporate manager authorised under section 119(2) of the BCCM Act to exercise some or all of the powers of the secretary can be given documents or information that ordinarily must be given to the secretary. This clarification was given to avoid complications caused in a recent adjudication decision which I wrote about here.
This is not an exhaustive list of the changes. I encourage you to carefully review the information sheet published by SCA (Qld) for more detail, which is accessible here.
Is that it?
For now – yes, it is.
Queensland’s body corporate legislation has been under constant review for seven years now. This is the most significant outcome from that review, but I doubt (or hope) it will not be the only outcome.
The team the Government appointed to conduct that review gave many important recommendations on other ways the legislation can be improved, such as:
- Making it easier to terminate old community titles scheme for redevelopment.
- Giving bodies corporate to power to impose fines for continued or repeated by-law contraventions.
- Expanding the power to make by-laws and possibly facilitate the creation of pet-free or smoke-free communities.
These new regulation modules have been introduced out of necessity. Ordinarily, a regulation has a life of 10 years. So, the 2008 BCCM regulation modules expired two years ago. Their life was extended while these new 2020 regulation modules were being finalised. But it was the expiry of the 2008 regulations that prompted this action.
The significant changes canvassed above, such as giving bodies corporate ‘sharper teeth’ to enforce its by-laws, could not be introduced through changes to a regulation module. The BCCM Act must change. To make that happen, it is important that all industry stakeholders continue to press the Government (whoever that might be after the impending State election) to improve the BCCM Act in 2021.
About the author
Jason is also a director of Strata Community Association (Qld) and has been a member of its legislation committee for many years. In that capacity, Jason has been extensively lobbying for changes to Queensland’s body corporate legislation to improve the strata industry.
You can learn more about our unique approach to the strata industry here.
This information is intended to provide a general summary only and should not be relied on as a substitute for legal advice.