Living in a Body Corporate is unlike owning your own freehold land. As a member of a Body Corporate you are required to follow the rules and regulations applying to your Scheme. Consequently, any maintenance or improvements you wish to make to your unit or townhouse ought to be well thought out and planned to keep the Body Corporate, Committee, owners and occupiers happy – after all it is ‘community living’.
To assist you with dealing with your Body Corporate, we recommend that you implement the following five quick tips in your next project:
Obtaining Body Corporate approval
Be proactive! In almost all cases, you will require Body Corporate approval before ripping out your kitchen or bathroom. Approvals can be sought from the Committee or at a General Meeting depending on the extent of the renovation. If the total renovation cost is under $3,000 and the renovation will not detract from the appearance of the building or will result in a breach of your duties as an owner or occupier (i.e. cause nuisance), then approval can be granted by your Committee.
In the event your unit renovation will exceed $3,000, you will need to submit a motion at the next general meeting where all owners can decide by ordinary resolution to approve the works. It is best to get this step completed early as your general meeting only comes around once a year.
Prepare a Scope of Works
Speak with your Contractors and prepare a summary of the works which are going to be undertaken. Provide the Scope of Works together with your request for Body Corporate approval.
This will save you time when seeking Body Corporate approval i.e. it will avoid the “to-ing and fro-ing” and questions from the Committee.
Check your By-Laws
We like to say “the By-Laws is your Bible” – don’t allow it to collect dust! The By-Laws may identify conditions required to be met in order to undertake the renovation. You can obtain a copy of your By-Laws from your Body Corporate Manager.
It is likely that some of the conditions in which the Committee impose on you to grant approval, will already be contained within the By-Laws (i.e. where Contractors can park, whether padding is required for the elevators etc).
Engage Appropriate Contractors
It is important that you engage the appropriate licensed Contractors to ensure that the works comply with current building standards. It is likely that the renovation will not be approved in circumstances where you are recommending that the works are carried out by a lay person or the classic ‘handy man’.
Communicate, Communicate, Communicate
It is always good practice to keep the Committee or on-site manager informed throughout your project. This is, of course, unless you want a battle on your hands.
It is also prudent to explain to the Contractors the requirements/conditions of the By-Laws in completing renovations at the scheme.