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SIMPLER BODY CORPORATE LAWS?
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A new Bill was introduced into Parliament yesterday aiming to ‘maintain the effectiveness and efficiency’ of the regulatory systems established by certain Acts, including the Unit Titles Act 2010.

To this end, the Regulatory Systems (Building and Housing) Amendment Bill proposes to amend the Unit Titles Act by (amongst other things):

  • Clarifying and updating it
  • Addressing inconsistencies in it and with other legislation
  • Keeping the regulatory system up-to-date and relevant; and
  • Removing unnecessary compliance costs and costs of doing business.

Many changes are of a technical drafting nature. However, key proposed changes to the Unit Titles Act include:

  • Allowing a new set of body corporate operational rules to be adopted at the outset (i.e. upon the deposit of the unit plan) rather than this only being permitted at a time after the unit plan is deposited
  • Allowing a principal unit to comprise more than one carpark
  • Placing a positive obligation on an authority, which acquires an estate or interest in a unit title development under the Public Works Act 1981, to prepare a new unit plan (or amend a unit plan as the case may be)
  • A simpler process for subdividing a principal unit (e.g. current requirement for a valuer’s certificate upon deposit of unit plan dispensed with; and no need to reassess ownership or utility interest).
  • Clarifying that the proceeds received by a body corporate from the sale, lease or licence over the common property are to be distributed to unit owners in shares proportional to what was their ownership interest at the date the payment fell due.
  • Expanding the ability of an owner to deal with their unit (e.g. by giving them the right, with the body corporate’s consent, to grant an easement in gross over their unit).
  • Restricting the types of redevelopment which can be dealt with by amendment to the unit plan (rather than requiring a new unit plan) – the redevelopment must consist solely of the adjustment of the boundary between 1 or more units and must not (a) affect (in any way) the common property, (b) materially affect the use, enjoyment or ownership interest of any other unit, or (c) change the number of units. 
  • In the case of leasehold, giving the body corporate wider rights in relation to the lease i.e. the ability to agree to a variation of the lease (provided this is approved by designated resolution).

The Bill is now waiting to be set down for its First Reading, and will then proceed to Select Committee who will invite submissions. Whether the proposed changes go far enough to achieve the objectives referred to above, especially as to removing unnecessary compliance costs and costs of doing business, will no doubt receive robust analysis during the Select Committee and submission process.

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