COVID-19 in bodies corporate
Bodies corporate and residents should consider the impact of COVID-19 on their body corporate, including what steps may be appropriate to limit transmission of the virus and to look after the interests of all residents and workers in the scheme.
Bodies corporate and their committees have a statutory obligation to act 'reasonably'. This means your actions in response to the COVID-19 pandemic need to balance the rights of individuals with the needs of other owners and occupiers and the broader community.
Some bodies corporate may consider:
- reminding all residents, workers and guests of the importance of practising appropriate hygiene (e.g. handwashing) and social distancing
- checking the wording of any by-laws to see if there is a requirement for owners or occupiers to disclose if they have an infectious disease
- reasonable restrictions on the use of common areas (including facilities like pools and gyms), particularly for anyone diagnosed with COVID-19—or who is required to self-isolate.
Learn more about COVID-19 from Queensland Health.
You can also read our frequently asked questions.
New body corporate laws
Amendments have been made to the Body Corporate and Community Management Act 1997 to assist bodies corporate with dealing with financial issues arising from COVID-19.
They commenced on 25 May 2020 and are in effect until 31 December 2020.
This video gives a summary of the changes.
Body corporate levies
Some lot owners may have difficulty paying body corporate levies.
The levies are set based on the budget adopted at the annual general meeting, so the body corporate can decide how much the levies are and when they are due.
Under the amendments, committees can decide to extend the due date for levies that have already been set at the annual general meeting.
Due dates can be extended for either:
- a particular owner if the committee is reasonably satisfied that the owner is suffering financial hardship due to the COVID-19 emergency
- all owners.
A body corporate can adopt a reduced sinking fund budget for its current financial year by ordinary resolution.
The budget must still allow the body corporate to raise a suitable capital amount to accommodate necessary and reasonable spending from the sinking fund in its current financial year.
However, the sinking fund budget does not need to include all or part of an amount required for anticipated major expenditure in future years.
If a body corporate has already had its annual general meeting, it can decide by ordinary resolution to adjust an existing sinking fund budget for its current financial year—removing or reducing part (or all) of the anticipated amount required for future-year major expenditure.
The body corporate must refund any contribution instalment(s) no longer needed due to the adjusted budget.
Penalties, discounts and recovery costs
The body corporate cannot charge penalty interest on unpaid levies during the period between 25 May 2020 and 31 December 2020.
For levies that were overdue before 25 May 2020, the body corporate can decide by ordinary resolution to revoke a previous decision to either:
- impose penalties on levies paid after the due date
- apply a discount to levies paid on or before the due date.
In special circumstances, committees can still decide to take these actions for owners who are late in paying their levies:
- waive all or part of penalty interest
- waive all or part of debt recovery costs
- apply discounts.
The usual obligation to start debt recovery proceedings on debts that have been outstanding for 2 years has been suspended until 31 December 2020.
From 25 May 2020 to 31 December 2020, the body corporate can—by ordinary resolution—borrow up to an amount equal to $500 multiplied by the number of lots in the scheme. Different borrowing limits apply for schemes regulated by the Small Schemes Module.
Learn about the usual rules for borrowing money.
Your committee may consider:
- avoiding face-to-face meetings unless they are essential
- practising appropriate hygiene and social distancing when meetings are held
- holding meetings remotely (e.g. by telephone or video conference)—the legislation does not prevent this practice
- the need for a quorum at meetings does not mean that committee members need to be physically present in the room
- committees can also use its capacity to vote outside committee meetings.
Bodies corporate may consider:
- deferring general meetings unless there is urgent or essential business to consider—particularly in larger schemes
- the ability to seek approval from an adjudicator for annual general meetings to be held outside the legislative timeframe. Learn more about expeditable orders
- where meetings are held. You can encourage owners to submit voting papers instead of attending the meeting personally (or to vote electronically if your body corporate has approved electronic voting)
- that you may only need 1 or 2 people to be present personally at a general meeting to form a quorum (depending on the size of the scheme)
- encouraging other voters to submit written votes or participate in meetings remotely (e.g. by telephone or video conference) if the body corporate can facilitate such participation
- approving expenditure above the committee spending limit with written consent from all owners—reducing the need for general meetings, particularly in smaller schemes
- that general meeting motions can be approved with a vote outside a meeting in schemes registered under the Small Schemes and Commercial Modules.
As long as bodies corporate make reasonable attempts to comply with the legislative requirements for holding general meetings, instances of non-compliance that do not affect the voting outcomes will be unlikely to affect the validity of meetings.
Maintenance of common property
A body corporate must maintain common property in good condition.
The body corporate may need to consider the need for additional cleaning of common areas and facilities.
Our office has re-opened to visits from the general public. We have taken steps to ensure our reception is safe for clients and our staff.
Visitors are asked to:
- enter the reception area one person at a time
- sanitise your hands before handing over documents and using the EFTPOS machine
- request brochures from behind the counter
- fill out the attendance register on entry.
We will continue to conduct all conciliations via telephone to reduce face-to-face contact or the need to travel on public transport for our clients.
Otherwise it is business as usual at the Office of the Commissioner for Body Corporate and Community management, and any changes to the status of our office will be communicated to our Common Ground newsletter subscribers and on our website.
Frequently asked questions
Read our answers to commonly asked questions relating to body corporate management and COVID-19, which includes information about:
- delaying or holding general meetings
- body corporate gyms, pools and lifts
- contribution levies, payment due dates and late fees
- health surveys and disclosing infections
- cleaning responsibilities
- short-term rentals.