The apartment lifestyle can be great. You have your own space, security, and the added extras of shared facilities like a pool, gym, theatre and more. Your body corporate fees go towards keeping your building complex in trim so you can enjoy the pleasures of a well-maintained environment, without the pain of having to do the work yourself.
It can be a pretty good deal.
But to make the most of it, it’s worthwhile investing a little time and care into what’s happening with your body corporate, so you can have your say about all things great and small in your extended living space.
So who does what?
Keeping your complex in good shape is a collaborative effort, and calls on a mixed bag of skills. It’s good to have at least a basic understanding of who does what, and how they all work together. That way, you know who you need to talk to when you want something done, and have your say in how your environment looks and feels.
Body corporate manager – provides administrative services to the building’s body corporate. They run the annual general meeting, prepare budgets, and execute the owners’ instructions as minuted in the monthly and annual general meetings.
Authorised letting agent – lets out units and collects rent on behalf of investor-owners, under the authority of the body corporate. The letting agent must be licensed under the Property Occupations Act 2014. Owners don’t have to use the letting agent to rent their lots, but are free to choose to let them out privately or through a real estate agent.
Building manager –may also be a resident, and may have letting agency rights as well. Your building manager’s role is primarily to keep common area assets in good working order – ranging from the gardens, exterior lighting and signage, to common facilities like the pool or gym, and plant and equipment like lifts, air conditioning and security systems. The benefits of a resident building manager include having someone on site to take care of issues as they arise – which can be critical if lots are let as short-term rentals – and fewer access restrictions, e.g. for tradespeople, and after-hours access for guests.
Caretaking service contractor—this is someone who is usually authorised as a letting agent. They generally own or lease a lot in the scheme, and run the letting agency from that lot. If they are an owner, they can vote at general meetings. You may also know them as your building manager.
Service contractor – grounds keepers, pool cleaners and other tradespeople. Your building manager, body corporate manager or body corporate committee may engage external contractors to carry out regular or ad hoc maintenance and repairs in the common areas. The contractors are usually independent businesses, not employees, who are paid from the building’s Administrative Fund.
Who’s the best person to talk to for help?
If you see something in a common area that needs repairing or replacing, the first person to contact is your building manager, (or if you don’t have one, contact your body corporate committee). Make sure you have their number, or know which apartment they live in so you can reach them. They’re there to help, so if you have any concerns, questions or ideas, your building manager is your best first contact.
Equally, if you notice something not quite right with a contractor or other supplier you see on the property – either in their demeanour or their performance – it’s best to take it up with your building manager, rather than the contractor themselves. The contractor carries out their work under the manager’s authority, and the manager is the designated representative of the body corporate.
Depending on what you’re asking – for instance, you’d like to see security cameras installed – the building manager may suggest you table the matter at the next month’s general meeting, so the committee can give your suggestion proper consideration and get feedback from other owners.
If your matter is simpler, like an exterior light outside your unit that needs fixing, your building manager can help you identify if it’s a common area matter – in which case they’ll arrange the repairs.
If it’s a lot owner’s matter, they may recommend a contractor you can engage (if you’re the owner), or arrange the job on behalf of the owner (if you’re renting).
Maintenance responsibility differs according to your Plan type
In Queensland the responsibility for property maintenance does depend on the sub-division survey plan that your property has – either a Building Format Plan or Standard Format Plan.
Check out our article Body Corporate Maintenance: Who’s Responsible for What for further clarification.