The Australian Reinsurance Pool Corporation (ARPC) has made changes to the regulations for some properties which renew after 1st July 2017.
These changes will require terrorism insurance cover [‘Terrorism Levy’] for the following buildings:
- Residential buildings with a sum insured over $50,000,000. This includes residential strata complexes.
- Properties with a commercial floor space over 20% (this has been reduced from 50%).
This levy is mandated by the Terrorism Insurance Act 2003: there are no provisions for opting out.
The Terrorism Levy will be calculated under a tiered system, based on the location of the building:
Capital City CBD
To find the rateable zone applicable to your building’s post code, visit Australian Reinsurance Pool Corporation website here.
The rate will be applied as a percentage of the building premium.
Effected properties should factor in an allowance for the new terrorism rates required by this legislation, when budgeting for their insurance renewal.
There are currently no requirements for residential buildings with a sum insured under $50,000,000 or properties with a floor space less than 20% to have terrorism insurance, although there are many instances where insurers do provide terrorism cover.
If you have any specific concerns about terrorism insurance cover for your building we recommend speaking with your insurance adviser.
Strata Insurance Solutions believe that despite the additional premium applying, the changes are welcome to protect the assets of Australian investors and we have personally lobbied government to come up with a solution for to cover terrorism, particularly given the changes to threat levels in recent times.
This information is of a general nature only and neither represents nor is intended to be personal advice on any particular matter. Shandit Pty Ltd T/as Strata Insurance Solutions strongly suggests that no person should act specifically on the basis of the information in this document, but should obtain appropriate professional advice based on their own personal circumstances. Shandit Pty Ltd T/As Strata Insurance Solutions is a Corporate Authorised Representative (No. 404246) of Insurance Advisernet Australia AFSL No 240549, ABN 15 003 886 687.
On 14 May 2017 the Honourable Mark Bailey MP, Minister for Main Roads, Road Safety and Ports and Minister for Energy, Biofuels and Water Supply (the Minister) announced an independent investigation into the Queensland towing industry.
The investigation will consider the operation of the tow truck and vehicle removal industry not currently covered by the regulatory framework, specifically examining the removal of vehicles from private property, and considering community expectations, consumer protections, private property owners’ rights and the professional operation of the towing industry.
Mr. Michael Forde was appointed the Review Chairperson to conduct the investigation. He is inviting submissions from the public, including identified stakeholders such as your organisation, to inform my examination of the issues.
Under the investigation’s terms of reference I am required to consider the following matters:
- Whether there is a need for legal clarification of the circumstances where a vehicle parked on private property may be legally towed and if there are other appropriate mechanisms for regulating these practices beyond existing transport regulations.
- Whether minimum signage standards should be established for private parking.
- Whether fees and charges for towing and storage should be regulated and in what manner.
- Whether the maximum distance a vehicle may be towed should be restricted.
- Whether consumer protections such as limiting ‘spotting’ practices are needed.
Purchasers of second-hand residential investment units have lost their ability to claim depreciation on plant and equipment which is part of the property at the time of purchase.
In a change forecast to save $260 million dollars over the next four years, the Government will,
“limit plant and equipment depreciation deductions to outlays actually incurred by investors in residential real estate properties” [Budget Paper 2 – Part 1 Revenue Measures].
The policy change will apply to all contracts entered after 7.30pm (AEST) on 9 May 2017.
Details of the policy are still limited, but it appears that:
- The intent of the policy is to restrict depreciation claims to items purchased and installed in the property by the claiming taxpayer.
- We assume that depreciation deductions will remain available for items that are part of a new property purchased from a developer, although this is not explicitly stated in the budget papers.
- Subsequent purchasers of the property will no longer be able to claim depreciation based on the second-hand value of the plant and equipment.
- Instead the value of the pre-existing plant and equipment will become part of the cost base of the property for capital gains tax purposes.
- Taxpayers already depreciating plant and equipment can continue to claim deductions in the current manner.
The budget papers describe the policy change as
“an integrity measure to address concerns that some plant and equipment items are being depreciated by successive investors in excess of their actual value”.
We have received the following message from the Office of Commissioner for BCCM:
"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 Cyclone Debbie and resultant severe weather events.
For those affected by this weeks’ severe weather event we would like to remind you that we have a webpage specifically providing information on what body corporates and lot owners need to consider in such situations.
Our webpage ‘Storm damage’ can be found here."
5.2: Audits, Auditors & Planning for the Unexpected
The First Step on the Strata Audit Trail is Always the Hardest
This just goes with the territory, however. At every AGM, you have no choice but to navigate your way through the statutory (Will We or Won’t We Audit?) motion where YES means NO, and NO means YES. (s.153 of the Accommodation Module Regulation)
The Second Step Does Get Easier…Usually
So…you have finally traversed the legislative hazards, and you have agreed (hopefully) there will be an audit at the end of the financial year.
The next step, once again at every AGM, is the statutory (Which Auditor?) motion.
This motion is straightforward: the BCCM legislation clearly prescribes the three main elements of this motion, and all that you have to do is vote YES… or NO… or ABSTAIN.
Thank you for taking part in our recent Everyday Health Survey on Tobacco!
The survey found 84 per cent of Queenslanders want bans on smoking within 10 metres of children, 66 per cent want smoking fully banned in pubs and clubs, 70 per cent support smoking bans in apartment buildings, and 85 per cent want the legal age for selling tobacco to be over 18 years.
The survey clearly shows Queenslanders support ongoing action towards a smoke free future.
Queenslanders are more aware than ever before that smoking kills.
We commend the Queensland Government for its world leadership on tobacco, and equally recognise that we have more work to do – together.
About 200,000 Queensland kids currently live in a household with a smoker – we must act to protect them – and nearly all Queenslanders agree with us.
The time is now to start talking about a generational phase-out of smoking, our game-changing legacy for future generations.
The findings and recommendations of QUT’s review of body corporate by-laws, debt recovery and scheme termination have been released for public consultation. QUT has made 29 recommendations in its report ‘Government Property Law Review: Options Paper Recommendations Body corporate governance issues: By-laws, debt recovery and scheme termination’.
QUT’s recommendations seek to:
- improve the ability of bodies corporate to make and enforce by-laws dealing with issues such as the towing of vehicles, the keeping of pets, and nuisances created by second-hand cigarette smoke drift between units;
- improve the ability of bodies corporate to recover unpaid body corporate contributions from lot owners; and
- facilitate the redevelopment of ageing and uneconomic community titles schemes.
The QUT recommendations are intended to align with the objects of the BCCM Act, in particular to balance the rights of individuals with the responsibility for self-management as an inherent aspect of community titles schemes, ensure that bodies corporate have control of the common property and the body corporate assets they are responsible for managing on behalf of lot owners, and give bodies corporate the flexibility they need to deal with changing circumstances within community titles schemes.
The concept of acting reasonably underlies much body of law. It may have started in the common law but is enshrined in several statutes.
The issue of reasonableness plays a key role in the day to day life of a body corporate. The duty to act reasonably is contained in section 94(2) of the Body Corporate and Community Management Act 1997 (BCCMA).
The High Court recently considered the issue of reasonableness in the decision of Ainsworth v Albrecht, a long and costly dispute that now provides some further guidance on the issue of how a body corporate might ensure that it acts reasonably.
The case concerned the body corporate for Viridian Noosa Residences (body corporate). A lot owner sought consent from the body corporate to amalgamate two balconies forming part of his lot, which would require the grant of exclusive use of the common property airspace between the existing two balconies. The lot owner’s request (which required approval by resolution without dissent) was not agreed to by the body corporate, resulting in the owner filing an application to the commissioner’s office on the basis that the body corporate’s decision was unreasonable. The dispute travelled from the body corporate’s original decision through to the High Court, with different views about the whole issue expressed along the way. It appears that the Court thinks that all the lawyers and all the king’s men made it rather more difficult than should have been the case:
- “…the competing submissions and supporting material did not make the question of unreasonableness difficult to resolve...” (Nettle J.)
A brief synopsis helps to unravel the issues, but the synopsis below skirts some of the observations made by the Court about the series of errors made in the decision-making process by the Commissioner’s Office and the Court of Appeal:
12.1: SHHH… Its a Secret!!!
‘Don’t even ask’ has been the general rule up to now. But change is in the air…
There was a recent decision from the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal (QCAT) which may be of considerable interest to unit owners in Queensland, especially those who have short-term letting arrangements with letting managers. It certainly will be exciting their interest.
The matter involved a real estate agent who had a contract with unit owners, in a Gold Coast resort, to provide property letting services under a PAMDA Form 20a.
The question to be decided by QCAT concerned whether the letting agent was liable to disciplinary action for illegally retaining a reward exceeding the amount stated in the prescribed PAMDA Form 20a.
The alleged secretly retained rewards involved:
- General cleaning fees
- Foxtel access fees
- Excess commissions for WOTIF-sourced tenants.
It was claimed the illegal rewards arose because, although the agreed fees for cleaning and for Foxtel access were correctly stated/disclosed in the Form 20a, the letting agent’s actual costs for cleaning and for Foxtel access were sometimes less than the fees charged to the owners. For example, the letting agent may have charged $64.90 for a ‘One Bedroom Clean’, but only paid the cleaners $30.00…yielding a net profit of $34.90 per clean. Similarly, while Foxtel may have charged the letting agent only $55.00 per unit per month, the letting agent may have charged each lot owner $84.80 per month ie providing the letting agent with a net profit of $29.80 per unit per month.
Regarding the WOTIF-sourced tenants, the claims of illegal rewards concerned an alleged practice of calculating the letting agent’s commission on the gross amount paid to WOTIF, rather than net amount after deducting WOTIF’s up-front commission.
First call of the Referee.
The charges were originally heard by an occupation regulation tribunal.
The Tribunal Member ruled the excess charges were not illegal, and therefore the letting agent was not liable for disciplinary action in relation to these particular charges… see: Chief Executive, Department of Justice and Attorney General v Peterson Management Services Pty Ltd  QCAT 473.
Then… up to ‘The Bunker’.
An appeal was then lodged with QCAT, on a point of law.
The Appeal Tribunal (Justice Carmody and Member Dr Forbes) found against the letting agent, ruling that there had been disciplinary breaches regarding all three matters ie the undisclosed rewards were illegal.
Accordingly, the Appeal Tribunal remitted the proceedings back to the occupation regulation tribunal, for determination of appropriate sanctions, rulings on costs etc. See: Chief Executive, Department of Justice and Attorney General v Peterson Management Services Pty Ltd  QCATA 163.
There are three very important things to remember
- The appeal decision is not an anti-profit decision. It is about non-disclosure.
- It is not yet known what sanctions, if any, will be imposed by the occupation regulation tribunal.
- The letting agent has a right of appeal against the Appeal Tribunal’s decision.
The findings and recommendations of QUT’s review of body corporate lot entitlements have been released for public consultation.
We encourage all owners to make their submission directly as per information below.
The contribution schedule lot entitlements are used to work out each lot owner’s share of most expenses incurred by their body corporate in operating a community titles scheme.
QUT has recommended that a new system for dividing costs in community titles schemes be adopted and that the current approach of dividing costs on the basis of contribution schedule lot entitlements be discontinued.
The consultation is now open on Property Law Review on Lot Entitlements.
You can download the relevant documents here:
- QUT's Property law review - Lot entitlements under the Body Corporate and Community Management Act 1997 - Final recommendation(PDF, 1MB) report, and
- Consultation guide to QUT's Lot entitlements report (PDF, 742KB),
containing a summary of QUT’s recommendations and answering frequently asked questions.
Please see the community consultations page of the Department of Justice and Attorney-General website here for more information.
ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING OF THE UNIT OWNERS ASSOCIATION OF QUEENSLAND INC.
to be held at UOAQ office L6/333 Adelaide St Brisbane QLD 4000 on Thursday 29 September 2016 at 10:00 am
you can download the Agenda/Voting Paper and Proxy form here
2. APOLOGIES & PROXIES
3. CONFIRMATION OF MINUTES of the AGM held 18 September 2015.
YES / NO / ABSTAIN
4. PRESIDENT’S REPORT by Wayne Stevens
When Two Into One Won't Go - Why would anyone combine two quite different proposals into the one motion?
For a number of years there is the emerging practice of bundling two very different proposals into the one motion - particularly, it mainly involves the strata insurance Statutory Motion. It means you can only vote YES for both proposals or NO for both...you cannot vote YES for one and NO for the other.
It was not so long ago in Queensland that the Alternative Motions regime[i] was introduced. It requires that all proposals with a common purpose be included in the one motion with alternatives.
For example, if there are two quotes for painting the building, the motion could be:
Do we paint the building? YES NO ABSTAIN
If you voted YES, do you prefer:
(a) Painter A @ $xxx? YES
(b) Painter B @ $yyy? YES
This motion has, first, a threshold question in the form of a motion from the Committee asking whether any of the proposals will be adopted, and then, if so, which one. These alternatives are usually separated by the word ‘OR’.
But it seems that as soon as you sort out one problem, another pops up.
WHO KNEW? 1.2 Body Corporate Managers: let the buyer beware because there is little else to protect you
|A recent Adjudication Decision[i] highlights a systemic problem in Queensland’s Strata World i.e. the absence of regulatory oversight of Body Corporate Managers (BCM).|
The reported conduct covers both professional competence and integrity. It also covers conduct as both a Body Corporate Manager and as the Authorised Representative of the largest strata insurer[iv]>> in Australia.
Everyone is entitled to draw their own conclusions about the implications of this decision. The feedback we’ve received from those who have a professional interest in strata matters is that it contains probably the harshest comments they’ve yet seen about a BCM.
At the micro level, what the owners at this particular complex do with this decision is really their call. This is inherent in the self-management model favoured in Queensland, and which is recognised in the order given by the Adjudicator that “the Body Corporate … is authorised to reconsider the subject matter of Motion 5 and 6 at a general meeting.”[v]>>
At the macro level, there are broader issues in play. Without leaping to any conclusions about the BCM’s overall conduct, it would be reasonable for anyone to ask:
1. >What about the BCM’s other clients…do they know about this decision?>
2. >What about other complexes in the Sunshine Coast precinct who may be looking for a new BCM…how do they find out about this decision?>
3. >Is there any regulatory agency, like the Body Corporate Commissioner’s Office or even Strata Community Australia (SCA)[vi]>>, which can investigate and apply appropriate sanctions if necessary?>
The answers, all in the negative, provide little comfort.
In Queensland, Body Corporate Managers are pretty much free agents. Anyone can start a business as a BCM, regardless of paucity of formal qualifications or relevant experience. All you need is unsuspecting unit owners with big bags of body corporate funds.
It has been many years since our StrataWorld morphed out of what was once a quaint little cottage industry. There are huge amounts of money involved now, and it continues to grow at an ever accelerating rate…and right at the heart of it are the BCMs. They are key players, and mostly offer a professional and valuable service.
First, a nice, feel-good story… one where the owners finally backed a winner
A recent Adjudication contains an interesting backstory about the benefits of outsourcing strata insurance to an independent broker… see WAVES  QBCCMCmr 132>
It is true they’d messed up their 2015 Statutory Insurance Motion, by not including it at all, thereby earning themselves an EGM compliments of the Adjudicator. But at least they’d set themselves on the path to significant annual savings off their insurance premiums.
Dating from their registration about 10 years ago, WAVES’ strata insurance was normally handled by Archers, their Body Corporate Manager (BCM).
Also, the one insurer, CHU, had been able to supply the most competitive quote for every one of those years.
There is nothing unusual about any of this: it is a very common (and lucrative) practice for BCMs to provide this service.
They are tasked to find the most competitive quote each year, and in return they take a commission, generally up to 20% of the base premium.
And, even the same insurer being able to provide the most competitive quote year after year…this also is a quite familiar phenomena.
For the 2015 AGM however, the WAVES’ Committee decided to break the mould and go directly to an independent broker.[i] This broker was known by the Treasurer, an accountant, to provide a very professional service.
It is standard practice for independent brokers to approach a wide range of insurers for quotes. Brokers understand the market is constantly changing: so they know they have to constantly test the broader market if they want to get the best on offer at the time.
Unfortunately, this is not necessarily a standard practice with some BCMs. Some tend to favour just 2 or 3 insurers (including the insurer they are associated with as an Authorised Representative), and often simply approach these same few insurers, from one year to the next.
The deadline for sumbission on the recent Issues Paper - Procedural Issues under BCCM Act 1997 released in December 2015 ended yesterday, February 22. Unit Owners Association of Queensland Inc. submitted to QUT panel in total three documents as follows:
- 'Questions' paper, released with Issues Paper by QUT Panel;
- General submission, commenting on certain issues which UOAQ felt were important to bring to the attention of the QUT panel on behalf of our members, and
- responding to invitation of the QUT panel to include in the submission other topics, not specifically mentioned in the published Issues Paper, the UOAQ brought to their attention the document Rorting Queensland Unit Owners.
The UOAQ believes that addressing issues highlighted in the document would bring instrumental contribution in improving body corporate governance under the Body Corporate and Community Management Act 1997.
Thank you to all members and other unit owners who has submitted their own documents to QUT panel and / or shared it with us.
As you may recall on 1 December 2015 an issues paper about body corporate governance was been released for public consultation as part of a review of Queensland’s property laws being conducted by QUT's Commercial and Property Law Research Centre for the Queensland Government. The review includes examination of a number of important issues for unit owners and bodies corporate. QUT is currently seeking submissions about a range of procedural and administrative issues for bodies corporate. Submissions will help QUT identify opportunities to improve and modernise Queensland’s body corporate laws.
This is a reminder that the time for submissions in response to the latest issues paper closes on Monday, 22 February 2016.
Unit Owners Association of Queensland strongly encourages its members to make a submission to the released issues paper.
You can access the paper 'Procedural issues under the Body Corporate and Community Management Act 1997' here and make submissions by COB Monday, 22 February 2016 via the contacts below:
C/- Office of Regulatory Policy
Department of Justice and Attorney-General
GPO Box 3111
Brisbane QLD 4001.
This is the second paper on governance issues within the Property Law Review. The Options Paper Body corporate governance issues: By-laws, debt recovery and scheme termination was released for public consultation in December 2014. You can find the relevant UOAQ's submission here.The public consultation so far included submissions to Property Occupation Bills 2013 with regard to Disclosure and Transparency (see UOAQ's submission here) and Lot Entitlements 2014 (see UOAQ's submission here & annexure here).
The Attorney General, The Hon.Yvette D'Ath MP, released overnight the next Issues Paper within the Property Law Review currently undertaken by the Commercial and Property Law Research Centre of QUT for public consultation.
The Body Corporate and Community Management Act 1997 and regulations contain a range of requirements relating to the governance of bodies corporate, including provisions governing body corporate committees, general meetings and a range of other administrative matters. QUT is seeking submissions in response to an issues paper it has prepared about a range of procedural and administrative issues for bodies corporate. Submissions will help QUT identify opportunities to improve and modernise Queensland’s body corporate laws.
You can access the paper Procedural issues under the Body Corporate and Community Management Act 1997 here and make submissions by COB Monday, 22 February 2016 via the contacts below:
C/- Office of Regulatory Policy
Department of Justice and Attorney-General
GPO Box 3111
Brisbane QLD 4001.
This is the second paper on governance issues within the Property Law Review. The Options Paper Body corporate governance issues: By-laws, debt recovery and scheme termination was released for public consultation in December 2014. You can find the relevant UOAQ's submission here.
The public consultation so far included submissions to Property Occupation Bills 2013 with regard to Disclosure and Transparency (see UOAQ's submission here) and Lot Entitlements 2014 (see UOAQ's submission here & annexure here).
(by John Masanauskas & Paddy Naughtin, Herald Sun, 27 October 2015)
VICTORIA’S building safety regulations face an overhaul as hundreds of Docklands apartment owners face paying millions of dollars in rectification works in the wake of a fire last year.
Melbourne City Council has sent notices to more than 400 owners in the Lacrosse tower to replace noncompliant external cladding which was imported from China.
However, a resolution of the dangerous situation could take many months to resolve amid bureaucratic red tape, legal action and argument over who should take responsibility.
(by: KATHERINE TOWERS From: The Australian October 24, 2015)
Apartment owners in Melbourne’s fire-ravaged Lacrosse tower will be hit with a multi-million-dollar bill and ordered to rip down and replace the highly flammable and non-compliant aluminium cladding encasing their homes.
Next week’s rectification orders, believed to be the first nationwide to hit a high-rise complex, will send shock waves through Australia’s apartment, strata and building industries.
The 312 apartment owners of the Lacrosse tower will be forced to personally foot the bill to bring the 23-storey complex into compliance with Australia’s building code and fire and safety regulations.
The cheap cladding currently on the building, imported from China and installed in breach of Australia’s building code and fire and safety regulations, is stuck on with double-sided tape.
The Lacrosse tower was one of the signature projects of prominent property developer and publisher Morry Schwartz and was designed by architecture company Elenberg Fraser, founded by his daughter, Zahava Elenberg.