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Reforms passed to protect buyers

New body corporate laws and protections for off-the-plan buyers were passed in the Queensland Parliament yesterday.

The Body Corporate and Community Management and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2023 was introduced by the Attorney-General Yvette D’Ath in August.

The laws will allow body corporates to stop smoking in common areas and make it easier for residents to have pets.

Queensland Law Society voiced its concerns about changes to the Bill at a public hearing in September.

One of the areas of concern was sunset clauses.

Previously, if a contract included a sunset clause, developers could terminate a sales contract for an off-the-plan land purchase if it was not settled within a stated time period.

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The new laws limit when property developers can invoke these clauses to help enhance buyer confidence and protections.

Once the amendments commence on assent of the Bill, a sunset clause can be invoked by a developer to terminate off-the-plan contracts for land in three situations only:

  • with the written consent of the buyer,
  • under an order of the Supreme Court, or
  • in another situation prescribed by regulation.

The sunset clause amendments will apply to new off-the-plan contracts for the sale of land, as well as contracts that have not yet settled.

The new laws will also allow termination of a community titles scheme with the support of 75 per cent of lot owners, where the body corporate has agreed it is not economically viable for lot owners to continue to maintain or repair the scheme.

The decision about economic viability must be supported by reports from independent professionals.

Previously, this required support from all lot owners or an order of the District Court.

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This amendment was in response to a recommendation made by Queensland University of Technology in its review of property laws and a key action from the 2022 Queensland Housing summit.

The new laws also include reforms to:

  • allow bodies corporate to make by-laws that prohibit smoking on common property or an outdoor area such as a balcony, and to clarify smoking as a nuisance, hazard or unreasonable interference;
  • prevent bodies corporate from making by-laws which create a blanket ban of pets in community titles schemes;
  • clarify and enhance the ability for bodies corporate to tow vehicles from common property in a timely manner;
  • allow an adjudicator to approve to put in place alternative insurance for a body corporate, when it cannot comply with the required level of insurance for particular buildings;
  • enhance by-law enforcement and access to records in layered arrangements of community titles schemes;
  • enhance the code of conduct for body corporate managers and caretaking service contractors;
  • clarify and streamline body corporate administrative and procedural matters; and
  • make minor clarifying amendments to confirm when deposits can be released to developers under off-the-plan contracts. 
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