Commissioners Corner - Service Statistics (QLD)
Monday October 23rd, 2017
When I am at meetings, events, seminars and similar, people will often say to me of my role “that must keep you busy” or words to that effect.
In this article, I will attempt to quantify just how “busy” my Office is, by providing some statistics about our work in 2016–17, along with some commentary about what these statistics might mean.
In doing so, I hope to be able to provide some context and perspective about the community titles sector in Queensland and the services my Office provides to the sector.
We provide two main services: an information service and a dispute resolution service. With the exception of some contractual-type matters, the dispute resolution service is an exclusive jurisdiction, which means that apart from that exception, my Office resolves all body corporate disputes in Queensland.
Disputes are resolved by either departmental conciliation or departmental adjudication.
In 2016–17, there were 1,478 applications for dispute resolution lodged with my Office.
These were comprised of 594 applications for conciliation and 884 applications for adjudication.
To put these figures into perspective, in 2015–16 there were 1,423 applications lodged for dispute resolution. So the 2016–17 figures are a 3.8% increase on the preceding year.
That increase may be attributable to a number of factors. It may, for example, correspond to a growth in the number of community titles schemes in Queensland. As more people own or live in community titles schemes, they will acquire more knowledge of their rights and responsibilities which may in turn lead to more situations which give rise to a dispute.
Here are the ‘top five’ categories of dispute for both conciliation and adjudication (in descending order):
- By-laws: animals
- By-laws: others
- Improvements by owner
- By-laws: vehicles
- General meetings: motions
- General meetings: procedures
- By-laws: animals
- Improvements by owner
The different types of dispute resolution methods help to explain the differences in the two top five lists. Conciliation is about bringing disputing parties together to try to reach a voluntary, workable solution and so it makes sense that by-law disputes – which are largely about how people conduct themselves on a scheme – would feature prominently.
On the other hand, adjudication is a more formal process in which legally-enforceable and appealable decisions are made based on written submissions. Disputes about general meetings and how they are run often involve a number of technicalities and formalities, so it stands to reason that such disputes would be resolved by adjudication.
In relation to my Office’s information service, in 2016–17 we had a total of 24,982 requests for information. This can be further broken down as follows:
- 17,572 telephone contacts via the 1800 free callback service;
- 2,639 written correspondence; and
- 2,471 personal contacts, which include attendance at public seminars and meetings.
To put these figures into perspective, in 2015–16 there were 26,620 information requests in total. So the 2016–17 figures are a 6.15% decrease on the preceding year. While the actual numbers are a decrease, I can report that in general, information enquiries are becoming more complex, with telephone calls generally taking longer on average. Our clients are coming to us with a more diverse range of queries, which may reflect that in a challenging housing market, people are wanting to be more informed about their legal rights and responsibilities.
For written responses, we continue to meet (and in many cases, exceed) our service standard of a written response to an enquiry within 14 days.
We were part of 39 public seminars and forums in 2016–17. This is an aspect of our information and education role that I am particularly pleased with, as getting out and meeting people to hear about emerging issues is an essential part of our role and also helps to ensure that my Office is reaching its clients with targeted information and services.
As you can see from all of these statistics, my Office continues to indeed be “very busy” in providing its services to the community titles sector.
For further information about the body corporate legislation please contact our Information Service on Freecall 1800 060 119, or visit our website http://www.qld.gov.au/bodycorporate.
This article was contributed by Chris Irons, Commissioner for Body Corporate and Community Management.