How to make reasonable Body Corporate decisions
Wednesday July 11th, 2018
From time to time the Body Corporate will be placed in a position requiring a decision to be made which may or may not be considered reasonable depending on perspectives. These types of decisions include but are not limited to matters regarding; pets, improvements/renovations, enforcement of a by-law, levy payment plans/debt recovery and contract disputes.
The governing legislation unfortunately does not contemplate the varying scenarios faced by a Body Corporate and its Committee, nor can it set a basis of what is reasonable and what is unreasonable when making a decision. However, the legislation does require a Body Corporate and the appointed Committee to ‘act reasonably’.
There has been a recent case heard in the Queensland Court of Appeal which considers such a scenario of varying opinions as to what is reasonable. In summary, an owner made an application to the body corporate to make an improvement which was declined. The owner was aggrieved with the decision and lodged a dispute. It was subsequently determined by the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal (QCAT) that the body corporate had acted reasonably in opposing the application. However, the owner continued to fight the decision and the case was eventually heard in the Queensland Court of Appeal culminating in the original QCAT ruling being overturned.
In the decision summary, the question of reasonableness and objectivity was considered. Below we have provided tips to help your Committee make reasonable decisions when considering a matter, controversial or otherwise:
• The Committee have gathered as much information as possible before considering the decision
• There is a reasonable basis for the decision, supported by evidence and in many cases, expert advice
• The basis of the decision is fully and accurately documented
• There is an evaluation of the facts, and circumstances surrounding the issue in question
• There is confidence that enough evidence has been provided to consider the matter accurately
• The decision making process has been objective, meaning that the decision was not influenced by personal feelings or opinions in considering and representing facts
• If the matter being considered requires interpretation of law or other specialised advice, seek payment of professional costs by the applicant as a condition of approval
This article was contributed by Tony Blenkinsop. Senior Associate Certified Strata Community Manager at Archers the Strata Professionals.