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1. Body Corporate Standard Module Regulation Changes – Committees

On 1 March 2021, the new Body Corporate and Community Management (Standard Module) Regulation comes into force. The new regulation clarifies and adds provisions to the existing regulation to provide for more flexible and contemporary arrangements within body corporates.

The changes are split into three categories – Committees, General Meetings, and Other. In this article, the changes being made to committees are explained.

These changes are identical to the changes in the Accommodation Module. Only some of the changes apply to the Small Schemes Module and the Commercial Module. The changes that do not apply to these modules are identified at each change.

However, please note the section numbers are specific to the Standard Module, and may not correlate exactly with the other modules.

Family member/co-owner membership restrictions

Section 11 clarifies the existing position of family member/co-owners on committees. The eligibility is decided per lot.

For example, if Mr and Mrs Smith own two lots, Mr Smith can be eligible to vote for Lot 1, and Mrs Smith can be eligible to vote for Lot 2. However, if Mr and Mrs Smith only own one lot, only one of them would be eligible to vote.

This change does not apply to the Commercial Module.

Committee membership where there are only three owners, but multiple lots

Section 13 expands the scenarios where membership may be decided without an annual general meeting.

Under the existing regulation, where there are two or three lots, and an equal or lesser number of owners, the owners may decide on committee positions themselves without an annual general meeting.

In the new regulation, this also applies where there are more than three lots, however, there are only three owners.

This change does not apply to the Small Schemes Module.

Electronic Voting

The new regulation now provides for electronic voting throughout Part 2 of the regulation (Committee Membership).

The body corporate can, by ordinary resolution, decide to use electronic voting for both open and secret ballot committee elections. Lot owners can then waive receipt of hard copy ballot materials.

This change does not apply to the Small Schemes Module or to the Commercial Module.

Number of Committee Positions

Section 38 clarifies the existing procedure for committee member nominations.

If at an AGM, the number of ordinary and executive members is less than the maximum permitted number of voting members for the committee, the chairperson must invite nominations at the meeting to fill the extra positions.

This clarification does not apply to the Small Schemes Module.

Removal of Committee Members

Under the existing module, there are two methods of removing a committee member from office – either by ordinary resolution; or by issuing a notice of breach of the code of conduct and then a removal by ordinary resolution.

This process has not changed in the new module, however, it has made the distinction between the two processes clearer.

Ballots for engaging a Body Corporate Manager

When engaging a body corporate manager under Part 5 of the regulation, section 74 now allows for the vote to be decided by an open ballot instead of a secret ballot.

The existing regulation requires that any appointment of a body corporate manager must be done through a secret ballot.

This change does not apply to the Small Schemes Module or to the Commercial Module.

Size of committee in principal schemes

As it is becoming more common to have community management schemes consisting of other schemes (known as subsidiary schemes), the body corporate committee of the top scheme (known as the principal scheme) may increase its size to twelve members to allow for a broader representation of the subsidiary schemes.

This change does not apply to the Small Schemes Module.

Restriction of benefits

Section 79 of the new regulation requires that any benefit to be received by a committee member, whether direct or indirect, must be approved by the body corporate by ordinary resolution.

The only exceptions to this are where the benefit is the supply or payment of a service engaged by the body corporate, or by the lot owner at market price.

This is a new provision being introduced to prevent preferential consideration of contractors.

Consideration of motions

The new regulation provides body corporate members with an express right to submit motions to the committee for consideration.

Section 58 of the regulation provides for a six week period for deciding a motion, unless written notice is provided to the member who submitted the motion.

The existing module provides for the ability to submit motions, however, it provides no time frame for the consideration of those motions outside of general meetings.

Electronic Attendance

Section 61 of the new regulation provides for committee members to attend meeting by electronic means, such as teleconferencing or videoconferencing if authorised by a resolution of the committee.

Similarly, in section 62, non-voting members of the committee may also attend electronically if authorised by a resolution of the committee.

This change does not apply to the Small Schemes Module.

Representatives of Lot Owners

A representative of a lot owner may attend a committee meeting, provided they comply with the requirements set out in section 63 of the regulation.

These requirements include giving the secretary written notice of their intention to attend the meeting at least 24 hour prior, the name of the lot owner being represented, and evidence that the lot owner has asked the representative to attend the meeting in place of the owner.

The existing legislation only provides for representatives attending general meetings. This change does not apply to the Small Schemes Module.

Ineligible voting

A voting member of the committee member becomes ineligible to vote for themselves or as a proxy if they become what is known as a debtor member.

A debtor member is explained in section 64 as a member who owes the body corporate a debt in relation to the lot they own. This also applies to members who represent entities where the entity owes the body corporate a debt.

Motions outside committee meetings

To ensure certainty around motions presented for a vote outside of a committee meeting, the new regulation provides, at section 69, a motion must be decided within 21 days of notice being given of the motion, and if not decided after this period, then the motion is taken to have not be agreed.

This change does not apply to the Small Schemes Module.

Further details and all of the relevant provisions relating to these changes can be found at https://www.legislation.qld.gov.au/view/html/asmade/sl-2020-0233.

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