New QLD Strata Laws – Towing, Smoking, Pets and Scheme Termination – What Your Community Should Do

On November 14, 2023, the Body Corporate and Community Management and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2023 successfully passed, marking a pivotal moment for regulatory changes.

The new laws brought about significant alterations to rules on smoking, towing vehicles, strata scheme termination, and pet ownership.

Queensland strata residents are now navigating these amendments, and need a clear understanding of the updated guidelines to ensure a harmonious and efficient communal living experience.

Towing

Among the prominent changes is the provision that authorises the towing of an owner or occupier’s car if it is parked in violation of the by-law, bypassing the need for initial enforcement through a contravention notice and having to go down the Commissioner’s Office route.

The critical aspect to address revolves around ensuring the lawful drafting of a by-law to effectively govern car parking by owners and occupiers.

Additionally, the proper identification of vehicle owners as owners or occupiers is paramount. To address this concern, implementing a by-law mandating owners and occupiers to notify the body corporate of their vehicles becomes crucial.

Lastly, adherence to towing legislation remains imperative, emphasising aspects such as obtaining implied consent from the owner or occupier through measures like displaying adequate signage.

Smoking

An integral amendment stemming from the recent legislation permits a body corporate to prohibit smoking not only in enclosed areas and on the common property but also an outdoor area of a lot as well as specifically clarifying smoking as a nuisance, hazard or unreasonable interference

The crucial aspect in addressing this change involves ensuring the registration of a fitting non-smoking by-law.

Furthermore, it is imperative to gather ample evidence before initiating any enforcement action.

Due diligence is required in the consideration and authorisation of any conditions imposed on an exclusive use area, such as the prohibition of smoking.

Scheme Termination (Collective Sales of Strata Buildings)

The new legislation permits the termination of a community titles scheme with the approval of 75 per cent of lot owners, provided the body corporate agrees it’s economically unviable for lot owners to maintain or repair the scheme.

The determination of economic viability must be supported by reports from independent professionals, and accessible dispute resolution services will be in place to ensure fair and appropriate use of the new process.

Pets

The new laws provide greater approval mechanisms for occupiers seeking permission to keep pets and reduces the issues which the committee can take into account (such as type, number or size).

This largely reflects a general trend in strata adjudicator decisions supporting pet ownership and mirrors recent changes to tenancy legislation allowing tenants stronger rights to obtain landlord approval for pets.

Other reforms include:

  • allow an adjudicator to approve to put in place alternative insurance for a body corporate, when it cannot comply with the required level of insurance for particular buildings;
  • enhance by-law enforcement and access to records in layered arrangements of community titles schemes;
  • enhance the code of conduct for body corporate managers and caretaking service contractors;
  • clarify and streamline body corporate administrative and procedural matters; and
  • make minor clarifying amendments to confirm when deposits can be released to developers under ‘off the plan’ contracts.

 

Adapting to the new laws

To adapt to the recent changes in body corporate laws, we recommend implementing the following adjustments:

Smoking:

Approve a new no-smoking by-law that prohibits smoking in any outdoor area of the scheme, on any common property (excluding indoor exclusive use), and in a manner that causes unreasonable interference, nuisance, or hazard to another person’s use of their lot or common property.

Towing:

Ensure the presence of an appropriate parking by-law.

Add a specific notation on the parking by-law granting the body corporate the authority to tow owners’ and occupiers’ vehicles parked in contravention of the by-laws without the need for a contravention notice or dispute resolution application.

Implement a by-law mandating owners and occupiers to notify the body corporate of their vehicles, facilitating the creation of a comprehensive vehicle register. This registry is crucial for distinguishing vehicles belonging to owners and occupiers, enabling compliant towing procedures.

Pets:

Confirm the existence of an appropriate animal by-law (likely already in place).

 

Should you have any questions regarding these amendments please do not hesitate to reach out to your body corporate manager.

Note: The above is general advice only. It is highly recommended to consult a strata legal expert when updating your scheme’s by-laws.

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