Resolving Disputes in a Body Corporate Community

Living in a body corporate community offers numerous benefits, including shared amenities, maintenance of common areas, and a sense of community. However, like any living arrangement, disputes can arise among residents. Understanding how to effectively and amicably resolve these disputes is crucial for maintaining harmony and a positive living environment. Here’s a guide on how residents can navigate and resolve conflicts within a body corporate setting.

 

Understanding the Common Sources of Disputes

Disputes in a body corporate can stem from various issues, including:

  • Noise Complaints: Loud music, parties, or even regular household noise can become points of contention.
  • Parking Issues: Disagreements over parking spaces or improper parking can cause friction.
  • Pet Problems: Pets can lead to disputes over noise, behaviour, or cleanliness.
  • Property Maintenance: Disputes might arise over the maintenance and upkeep of common areas or individual units.
  • By-law Violations: Conflicts can occur when residents perceive others as not adhering to the community’s by-laws.

 

Understand The Legislation and Your Scheme’s By-Laws

To navigate disputed effectively within your body corporate, it’s crucial to familiarise yourself with both the wider legislation and the by-laws specific to your scheme. This understanding provides essential context regarding acceptable conduct and potential regulations governing your own and your neighbours’ actions.

The by-laws encompass a broad spectrum of subjects, and adherence is mandatory for all residents, including owner-occupiers, tenants, and visitors, ensuring equitable application across the community.

 

Initial Steps to Resolve Disputes

When a dispute arises, taking the right initial steps can prevent escalation:

  • Direct Communication: Often, the best first step is to discuss the issue directly with the other party involved. Approach the conversation calmly and respectfully, expressing your concerns and listening to their perspective.
  • Document the Issue: Keep a record of the dispute, including dates, times, and the nature of the problem. This documentation can be helpful if the issue needs to be escalated.
  • Seek Mediation: If direct communication doesn’t resolve the issue, consider seeking mediation. A neutral third party can help facilitate a constructive conversation and find a mutually acceptable solution.

 

Involving the Body Corporate Committee

If informal resolution efforts fail, the next step is to involve the body corporate committee:

  • Submit a Written Complaint: Provide a detailed, written complaint to the committee, outlining the issue, steps you’ve taken to resolve it, and any supporting documentation.  The Office of the Commissioner for Body Corporate and Community Management provides specific forms to assist with this process:
  • Request a Meeting: Ask the committee to address the dispute at their next meeting. Be prepared to present your case and answer any questions they may have.
  • Follow the By-laws and Rules: Ensure that your complaint and actions are in line with the body corporate’s by-laws and dispute resolution procedures.

 

External Mediation

An external mediator helps both parties reach a mutually agreeable solution. This process is confidential and focuses on finding common ground.

Mediation in QLD has to be external to the Office of the Commissioner for Body Corporate and Community Management who only offers Conciliation and Adjudication.  There are companies that can help with external mediation but there is no official governance around them – just good will.

 

Conciliation Services

In Queensland, the Office of the Commissioner for Body Corporate and Community Management offers conciliation services to help resolve disputes:

If mediation doesn’t work, conciliation involves a more structured approach where a conciliator provides recommendations based on the merits of the case.

 

Adjudication and Legal Action

As a last resort, disputes can be taken to adjudication or legal proceedings:

  • Adjudication: The Office of the Commissioner can appoint an adjudicator to make a binding decision on the dispute. This process is more formal and involves submitting detailed evidence and arguments.
  • Legal Action: In some cases, disputes may need to be resolved through legal action in the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal (QCAT) or other courts. This step should only be considered when all other avenues have been exhausted.

 

Maintaining a Positive Community

Preventing disputes is always better than resolving them. Residents can help maintain a positive community environment by:

  • Communicating Openly: Foster open lines of communication with neighbours and the body corporate committee.
  • Respecting By-laws: Adhere to the community’s by-laws and encourage others to do the same.
  • Participating in Community Activities: Engage in community meetings and events to build relationships and a sense of community.

 

By following these steps, residents can effectively manage and resolve disputes, contributing to a harmonious and enjoyable living environment in their body corporate community.

 

How Can We Help You?

Call us on 07 3435 5300 and one of our friendly consultants will help