Kicked Out of Your Own Unit - It Can Happen26 April 2012
From the only in America files - A 58 year old woman living in an over-55's condo community (body corporate equivalent) married a 48 year old man and the happy couple moved into the condo together. A short time later the woman received a letter from the communities' attorney advising her that "your unit is currently occupied by an unauthorised person", being the 48 year old husband who obviously didn't meet the over-55 age rule.
Whilst the above matter is still ongoing the legislation relating to the restrictions a body corporate can enforce regarding the occupancy of a unit is very different in Qld. Section 180 of the Body Corporate and Community Management Act 1997 does not allow, provided that the unit can be used for residential purposes, for the Body Corporate by-laws to restrict the type of residential use meaning the by-laws cannot restrict an owner from:
- Living in their unit
- Renting it out on a long-term basis
- Renting it out on a short-term basis
The decline of tourists in certain regions of Qld, coupled with increasing costs such as insurance premiums in Nth Qld and electricity means that owners returns on holiday-let units has decreased dramatically in recent times. This has forced many unit owners to remove their unit from the onsite managers letting pool and seek long-term tenants through outside agents and on some occasions unit owners are moving into their units.
Whilst in the majority of complexes this doesn't pose a problem, there are a number of strata-titled properties in Qld where restrictions are in place under local council laws or the buildings development approval meaning that permanent occupancy of the units is not permitted.
Archers manage a number of properties throughout our 6 offices which have restrictions in place meaning a unit owner cannot occupy the unit or rent it out on a long-term basis. Similarly there are also instances where short-term rentals are not permitted in a building.
In instances where permanent occupancy is not permitted onsite managers obviously want to protect their business and see owner-occupiers or long-term tenants as not only illegal in the building, but a threat to their income.
Disputes often arise when the purchaser has been given incorrect information or haven't properly researched the restrictions within the building prior to purchasing.
As bodies corporate are unable to enforce these restrictions the body corporate committee needs to ensure that their local councils are alerted of any breaches of the conditions within the building
If you are purchasing a property and intend on either living in or renting it out on a long-term basis now or in the future be sure you do your homework to prevent future disputes:
- Contact the local council and check their records to ensure there are no restrictions on occupancy of the building.
- Check the body corporate by-laws which may on some occasions make reference to a particular council condition not permitting a particular type of occupancy.
- Talk to the body corporate manager or onsite manager (if applicable) as they will be aware of any restrictions in place regarding a short or long term occupancy