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How your body corp could ban pets, turf you from your home

DOG'S LIFE: Lyn Henderson and Tawny love life in their highrise.
DOG'S LIFE: Lyn Henderson and Tawny love life in their highrise. Warren Lynam

CROWDS packed a Caloundra Resort to get expert advice on one of the biggest proposed shake-ups to body corporate laws which could see owners turfed from units for new developments.

The changes recommended by QUT's independent property law review, commissioned by the State Government, could also give body corporates the power to ban pets from properties and make all areas on site, including balconies and common areas, smoke-free.

Other proposed changes including give body corporates the right to slap $220 fines on owners who breech by-laws and the ability to tow away vehicle's parked in visitor's car parks after a "reasonable period of time".

But the most concerning aspect of the proposed change was the call to allow body corporates to sell off a building if 75% of the owners agreed to this.

Frank Higginson from Hynes Legal, who spoke at the seminar at Rumba Resort, said this could mean elderly residents who didn't want to leave their units could be forced to sell up.

 

Frank Higginson of Hynes Legal.
Frank Higginson of Hynes Legal.

This proposed change was being pushed by the Property Council of Australia.

"The Property Council has been a long-standing and vocal advocate for strata reform in Queensland, strongly criticising the current requirement for unanimous consent to terminate a community title scheme," its website reads.

"The Property Council's submission to the property law review highlighted that the current legislation places financial and safety risks on owners, and holds back urban renewal in our major centres.

"Without reform, Queensland runs the risk of losing investment to other states that have adopted, or are looking to adopt, a 75 per cent termination threshold."

Mr Higginson said for a political perspective, it was not going to be easy to adopt a law change which could see elderly people lose their home.

However, he said consideration needed to be given on whether one person could block a building from having a necessary redevelopment.

"If you have a building with 50 lots on a beach front site and it is run down, corroding and needs work and 49 of the 50 owners say 'sell', should one owner prevent the others from realising their investment?"

"It needs to be just and equitable to happen, something a District Court could decide, but maybe it is time it came to an end?

"At the moment there in no mechanism to make it happen under the legislation.

"From a political perspective, one would struggle with a concept which forced grandma and grandpa out of a home of 30 years if they didn't want to go

"As lawyer, sitting on a fence, community living involves compromise. If you living in density, there has to be some give and take."

Mr Higginson said the by-laws regarding banning pets and smoking required a "resolution without dissent" and not a 75% vote to be approved.

This meant unit or duplex holders would one pet owner or smoker who voted against the proposed change would stop it from coming into force.

If the change was approved, pets in the complex would be allowed to remain until their death or their owners moved on.

Lyn Henderson, who owned a unit in Mooloolaba, supported the "majority rules" concept for redevelopment, but hoped body corporates wouldn't start banning pets like her border terrier, Tawny.

"It would be a shame not be able to have your pet or give it away to move into a unit." she said.

"It adds to value of units when it is pet friendly."

If the change was approved, pets in the complex would be allowed to remain until their death or their owners moved on.

Mr Higginson said under existing legislation, body corporates did not have the power to enforce a no-pet or no-smoking ban.

He doubted the proposed changes would lead to any law changes in this government as it was too close to election time.

Mr HIgginson said another concern at the seminar was the rise in Air B&B and the lack of legislation to control the phenomenal growth in this industry.

He said there was nothing in the pipeline to address this issue.

Topics:  body corporate dogs pets property council of australia strata title


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