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Storm damage

Cyclone Debbie and its aftermath has had a significant impact on Queensland, causing loss, damage and inconvenience to many people. We extend our sympathy to those in community titles schemes who are experiencing difficulties because of the storm.

We encourage lot owners and anyone involved in a body corporate to work together and to recognise that many people may be under stress at this difficult time.

We have put this information together to help people in community title schemes deal with problems caused by the storm.

This information is relevant to all schemes in Queensland.

It will help you work out how to get any damage or insurance issues fixed quickly. Keep up to date through the Queensland Government’s disaster and alerts webpage.

Clean up

Lot owners and occupiers affected by severe weather events should consider general clean-up options for their own lot and for common property areas.

Read more about

Or you can contact your local government.

Damage

This information is a general guide only and should not be used as legal advice. It does not cover all issues that may arise regarding weather-related events. Body corporate legislation can be complex and different rules may apply in different schemes.

If you are not sure of how the body corporate legislation applies in your situation you should seek independent legal or financial advice.

Determining responsibilities for repairs and maintenance is a particularly complex matter. To assist, you should firstly find out which regulation module applies to your scheme by contacting the Titles Office on 1300 255 750.

You can read more about the maintenance responsibilities for you and your body corporate.

In particular, knowing your plan of subdivision will help you define the boundaries of your lot and the common property. This information is contained on your survey plans, which are also held by the Titles Registry.

Is the damage covered by insurance?

In most cases the body corporate must have building insurance and public risk insurance for the common property and assets. Different insurers and policies can contain different levels of cover. Your first steps might include:

  • locating the relevant policy for your scheme and lot—you may wish to contact the body corporate, on-site manager or body corporate manager (if applicable)
  • checking the policy for the extent of its coverage
  • contacting your insurer or broker to discuss any damage and the process for lodging a claim
  • documenting damage. For example, by taking photos or video
  • cleaning up after the storm (where safe to do so) to minimise the extent of the damage.

Find out more about insurance obligations.

Who will pay when insurance does not cover storm damage?

Bodies corporate and their members will need to cover the costs of restoring the scheme to a good and structurally sound condition if the damage is not covered by insurance.

In general, lot owners will each need to cover the costs of fixing their own lot. Owners will also need to contribute, according to their lot entitlements,

to the costs incurred by the body corporate in fixing areas that the body corporate is responsible for.

This is worked out based on the plan of subdivision the building is registered under. It will define the boundaries either by:

  • survey pegs

or

  • the walls, floors and ceiling of the building.

If the lot boundaries are defined by survey pegs, then it is likely that you are registered under a standard format plan of subdivision. This means you are responsible to repair the parts of the building within those boundaries if insurance will not cover the damage.

If the lot boundaries are defined by the walls, floor and ceiling of the lot, then it is likely that you are registered under a building format plan of subdivision. This means the body corporate is likely to be responsible for the exterior of the building and for all doors and windows in those external walls if insurance will not cover the damage.

Find out more about maintenance responsibilities under each plan:

What if the building is no longer structurally sound?

If your building is under a standard format plan and determined to be structurally unsound, you (lot owners) will normally be individually responsible for the part of the building that is within the boundary of your lot. Any common walls will be the responsibility of both adjoining owners.

If your building is under a building format plan, then the body corporate is likely to be responsible for maintaining the foundations and roof, and ensuring load bearing walls are structurally sound.

How long can we take to fix our lots?

The body corporate must act reasonably and perform certain maintenance duties. The body corporate may fail to meet its obligations if it does not fix maintenance problems within a reasonable time of becoming aware of the problems.

It’s vital to keep in mind that in the aftermath of an event like Cyclone Debbie, contacting and arranging for visits by tradespeople is likely to be a challenge. This will also have an impact on the amount of time it will take to repair damage.

Individual owners should take an active interest in helping their body corporate fix the damage as soon as possible. This reduces the risk of having to pay large damages payments to people who suffer loss caused by delayed repairs.

Individual owners also have a responsibility to fix their own units as soon as possible. You should consider whether a delay in fixing your unit will result in someone else suffering loss or damage.

What if I am suffering loss because owners are not fixing the scheme?

Individual owners and the body corporate (all owners) have statutory maintenance duties for the scheme. If you are suffering loss because these duties are not being met, you should contact other owners or committee members to discuss these issues. If you speak to them verbally, we recommend following this up with a written request.

What if the work required is above the committee spending limit?

Body corporate committees generally have a monetary limit in authorising spending.

If the cost of employing tradespeople to do urgent work is more than the committee spending limit and there is not enough time to call a general meeting to authorise the spending, then you can apply for adjudication with us. An application like this would seek authorisation for the body corporate to engage in emergency expenditure.

We prefer that a copy of a resolution confirming that the majority of committee members support the action is included with this application. Ideally, at least 2 written quotes will also be attached, although in some instances this may not be practical.

We will deal with these applications on an urgent basis.

Practice Direction 18 gives more information about applying for emergency expenditure.

What if the majority of owners vote against the body corporate doing necessary maintenance work?

If owners vote against the body corporate performing work you think is necessary, this can be reason to apply for dispute resolution application with our office seeking the body corporate do the work.

Minutes of the meeting showing that owners voted against the work should be attached. Accompanying this should be a detailed description of what attempts have been made to resolve the issue and why the matter is urgent.

Get more information on dispute resolution:

Further questions?

If you have further body corporate questions you can submit an enquiry or phone the information service on 1800 060 119 (freecall).

We cannot give legal advice or rulings—we can only give you general information on body corporate legislation.

Last updated
4 April 2017
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