Commissioners Corner - Tenant vs Owners Rights in Strata

Wednesday May 16th, 2018

In these articles, I have spoken at length about roles and responsibilities of bodies corporate, owners, committees, managers and other parties.

At times I also talk about “occupiers” of a lot. This is the term the Body Corporate and Community Management Act 1997 (the Act) uses in relation to someone occupying a lot – the Act does not refer to a “tenant”.

That said, it is reasonable to think of a “tenant” as an “occupier” and particularly for the purposes of a discussion about the way in which someone who is renting in a community titles scheme interacts with the body corporate.

I have heard and my Office has heard of instances where a body corporate – and by extension, its body corporate manager – says that they deal only with owners and have no relationship or responsibility towards tenants.

This is not correct.

Occupiers have a number of rights and responsibilities under the Act and in that respect if nothing else, a body corporate and its manager is required to deal with a tenant.

One obvious way in which this might occur is in relation to by-laws.

By-laws apply equally to owners and occupiers (tenants). This is a two-way street. The body corporate is obliged to enforce its by-laws, whether an owner or an occupier is breaching them, but equally, an occupier has a right to request the body corporate enforce its by-laws if that occupier considers a breach has occurred.

In practical terms, this means that if a tenant contacts the body corporate and follows the prescribed by-law process (including issuing a Form 1 provided by my Office), the body corporate should be following through on the concerns of the tenant and making a decision accordingly.

A tenant has the ability to access the dispute resolution service of my Office in the event that the body corporate does not follow through with enforcement of its by-laws.

A tenant also has rights in relation to maintenance, particularly as it relates to common property and supply of utility infrastructure services.

In a practical example, if the body corporate is supplying electricity to a lot which is occupied by a tenant and then there is a cessation of supply, the tenant would have a right to “talk with” the body corporate about this issue and if appropriate, seek rectification. Depending on the circumstances, the tenant may have a reasonable expectation that the body corporate take urgent action.

A further way in which a tenant has a relationship with a body corporate is in accessing body corporate records.

A tenant may be considered an “interested person” for the purposes of section 205(6) of the Act – in particular, as part of the definition as “another person who satisfies the body corporate of a proper interest in the information sought” – and thus, be entitled to access body corporate records, such as a copy of the body corporate roll.

There is at times confusion about the role of the landlord or property agent in relation to the body corporate. Again, I have heard of bodies corporate and body corporate managers requesting a tenant go through their landlord or property agent in order to have a maintenance issue attended so.

As I have noted above, if the body corporate has a responsibility to maintain, then the body corporate should be exercising that role, regardless of whether the person requesting maintenance is a tenant and whether or not there is a landlord or property agent involved.

I am also aware that some committees and owners have an idea that they may be able to take action to evict a tenant. This is not the case and a body corporate has no involvement in the relationship between a tenant and their landlord.

Similarly, neither a body corporate nor an owner has any right to be consulted about or to ‘vet’ a tenant or prospective tenant on the scheme. Again, this is purely a matter for the tenant and their landlord/agent. There is, however, a requirement for the body corporate to be notified of the details of any occupier who is occupying a lot for six months or more.

The Residential Tenancies Authority (RTA) is the Queensland government body which has responsibility for tenancy-related issues. My Office has collaborated with the RTA on a number of information products, including webinars, about tenants’ rights and responsibilities in a community titles scheme.

These products and general tenancy information can be found at

For further information about the body corporate legislation please contact our Information Service on Freecall 1800 060 119, or visit our website

This article was contributed by Chris Irons, Commissioner for Body Corporate and Community Management.