2018 Strata Year in Review

Monday January 14th, 2019

We are pleased to welcome you back and hope you had a safe and happy festive holiday season. Before we launch into new content for 2019, we think it is important to look back on some of the key topics in strata covered last year to help everyone get off to a flying start to the year full of current knowledge.

With readership increasing to over 28,000 subscribers, we are able to gauge the most relevant issues from our most read articles and have put together a month-by-month account as a recap. There are links to each article, which you may wish to keep as a quick reference guide to current issues to be prepared for the year ahead as these topics continue to evolve.
If you enjoy reading these articles, please share them with your fellow strata stakeholders that will also benefit from the knowledge they provide.

We started the year with an article on Dealing with Vexatious Litigants highlighting the increase in disputes and the need for legislative reform in respect of increasing maximum costs orders. The proposed reform is intended to prevent the relative ease in which someone with a grudge can waste the time and resources of both volunteer committees and government services. We then had a contribution from our American colleagues who deal with the same strata issues as all of us, explaining why relationships in Bodies Corporate cannot be All Stick and No Carrot.

February saw the first of many articles on Airbnb in Strata and its relevance to QLD legislation contributed by Commissioner Chris Irons. The article provides practical tips on how to identify issues affecting strata communities and how to come to workable solutions. Another popular topic this month was Committee Member Liabilities providing the facts from an insurer’s perspective to guide members with making decisions within their limitations preventing personal liabilities.14

The following month of March raised the topic of Removing Committee Members detailing the current process and associated options and what is proposed with the latest QLD legislation reform recommendations. Statutory Valuations were then announced across QLD and the process for lodgement of an objection was explained including how the authorities come up with the values.

April focused on QLD disputes via the Office of the Commissioner with explanations on both the Application Process, prerequisites prior to applications and enforcement of orders. Pets in strata had its first article for the year covering a recent case dealing with Pet Dander Causing Allergies in an unusual case going against the pet owner due to specific circumstances surrounding performance of caretaking duties.

Smoking as a Nuisance was next for the start of May recapping an historic QLD decision on this issue between Nordbury v Hogan from 2010 frequently referenced and still relevant today, at least until legislative reform is passed. An update on QLD Towing Laws highlighted the fact that despite towing laws for operators being tightened, there is absolutely no change to strata laws around towing.

June saw us wrap up our latest community education seminar series held the prior month on Bullying in Strata presented throughout QLD by the Commissioner for Body Corporate and Community Management. The series was extremely popular with over 400 attendees! Dealing with Nuisance Owners followed later in the month highlighting how a particular dispute was dealt with in the Tank Tower decision which included placing restriction on correspondence to a maximum of 1 letter per week limited to 1,000 words.

July was another highlight for Commissioner Chris Irons with his article on the offices top 10 FAQ’s rating as one of the highest for the year. Seems many readers want to know what keeps his office busiest! Full and Accurate Minutes was extremely popular due to the varying opinions on what this means, with the legislative facts provided for the different meeting types. A Chairperson was Ordered to Stop Bullying a Caretaker at the end of the month with guidance on appropriate behaviour provided.

We then moved into Nuisance Communication and the Rights of a Body Corporate in August with another order handed down in the case of Deagon Village imposing restrictions on telephone communication including voicemail and text messages. Another important decision on Levy Arrears Recover Time Limits was made overturning a prior decision that caused significant industry confusion and disruption of longstanding industry debt recovery practices.

September announced the latest round of Community Education Seminars on Combustible Cladding Laws to clarify what the new laws mean and if your building is within the “compliance zone”. The same month highlighted the importance of fire safety compliance with a Body Corporate Stung for Fire Safety Breaches. The month concluded with another contribution from Commissioner Chris Irons on Airbnb Enforcement due to popular demand within the industry.

CCTV in Strata proved to be another popular topic from Commissioner Chris Irons providing some clarity on relevant QLD laws and guidance for Bodies Corporate with current installations or considering future use. Storm season preparations commencing in October providing a timely reminder of how best to prepare for the Summer Storm Season ahead with a comprehensive checklist of safety precautions to follow.

Balcony Enclosure & Safety Code Compliance highlighted the QLD Governments efforts to provide education on the correct channels for seeking approvals and the safety priorities that are considered by the Government agencies when considering applications. November also reported on the new legislation in place for Queenslanders when it comes to Embedded Electricity Networks and highlighted the new compliance requirements in place including how to check your service provider accreditation status.

Another QCAT decision followed, this time considering Short Term Letting By-laws in the Hilton Park Decision appealed and dismissed here. Many terms in the BCCM Act were clarified and the same result as prior Airbnb disputes remained, being that short-term letting cannot be prohibited in its entirety. The month of December also had the latest installment of the ever popular Commissioners Corner covering Pest Control Responsibilities with example adjudicators orders for the varying scenarios. Conflict of Interest in Strata was also clarified for when making Committee and General Meeting decisions.

We hope you enjoyed the content we provided throughout the year and look forward to keeping it relevant to you. If you have read this far, no doubt have a keen interest in the topics we publish. Please let us know what you would like to hear more about and we will seek a contributor. Finally and most importantly, a big thanks to all of our article contributors who dedicate their time and expertise helping us stay frequent and relevant.

This article was contributed by Grant Mifsud – Partner, Archers the Strata Professionals.