Bodies corporate, unit owners and land buyers better supported under new reforms

Published Tuesday, 14 November, 2023 at 05:25 PM

Attorney-General and Minister for Justice and Minister for the Prevention of Domestic and Family Violence
The Honourable Yvette D'Ath

  • Limits on developers invoking sunset clauses will better protect Queensland buyers
  • New laws will also crackdown on smokers while making it easier for residents to keep pets

New body corporate laws and protections for ‘off the plan’ buyers have passed in Queensland Parliament.

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.

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 produced by independent professionals, and accessible dispute resolution services will be available to ensure the new process is used appropriately, and fairly.

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

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. 

Work is underway to ensure the community titles sector is informed of the reforms and will be able to implement the new laws when they commence.

Quotes attributable to the Attorney-General and Minister for Justice and Minister for the Prevention of Domestic and Family Violence, Yvette D’Ath:

“The Palaszczuk Government is committed to making sure Queenslanders have access to safe and secure housing.

“With rising property prices, it was worrying to hear reports of Queenslanders left out of pocket and without the land they wanted to purchase because of developers invoking a sunset clause.

“The new limitations on the use of these clauses will give certainty to Queenslanders when purchasing land under an ‘off the plan’ contract.

“We have also made a raft of changes to support the growing number of Queenslanders making the move to owning or renting an apartment.

“Reforms to scheme termination strike the right balance between protecting property rights and giving unit owners more flexibility in decisions about uneconomic community titles schemes, while also opening up more housing development opportunities.

“The health of unit residents will be better protected from second-hand smoke and we have made it easier to keep a much-loved pet while living in an apartment.

“I would like to thank unit owners, community titles and property industry stakeholders, and the Community Titles Legislation Working Group for their feedback and work on these new laws.”

Quotes attributable to Housing Minister, Meaghan Scanlon: 

“There are cases where a majority of owners want to sell but even a single person can stop them from being able to make that collective decision about their property.

“This Bill is about weighing the rights of people who want to facilitate new housing projects and terminate expensive, uneconomic title schemes, while also providing protections and safeguards for lot owners.

“Stakeholders made it clear at the Queensland Housing Summit that scheme termination was a key area that required reform to help support getting more supply into the market.

“These changes will make it easier for underutilised sites to be redeveloped for more housing, which is good news Queenslanders looking for a new home.”