BUSHFIRE RISK AND BODY CORPORATES – WATERSHED DECISION
As of today, Body Corporates are on notice to manage and control their common property reasonably and for the benefit of all lot owners, as per Section 152 (1) of the Body Corporate and Community Management Act, Qld.
A decision today by the Office of the Commissioner for Body Corporate and Community Management in Qld in favour of a client of Wilson Haynes solicitors, has put Body Corporates of unit developments and community title schemes on notice to review how they are managing their common property, particularly in relation to bush fire and other obvious risks to human life.
The decision relates to a complaint by a resident of a community titles scheme 200 metres above sea level, in the extremely high bushfire risk hinterland of Tallebudgera, Gold Coast. He complained that the Body Corporate and its Management Committee had refused to develop a Bushfire Safety Management Plan and had stonewalled him, about his numerous requests to do so. He also argued that the management committee held back his requests from other lot owners.
The decision was a slap in the face for the Body Corporate management committee of the high bushfire risk Tallebudgera community titles scheme, involving 19 lots on 25 hectares, with a one-way-in, one-way-out road.
The decision found that the resident had raised a “serious issue” in relation to “the maintenance of the common property which includes fire safety infrastructure, roadways and vegetation”, in the
context of whether the Body Corporate was discharging its statutory responsibility. The decision rightly queried what should be part of a Bushfire Safety Management Plan.
The decision recommended conciliation between the resident and the body corporate. It is to be hoped that the Body Corporate now sees that conciliation must lead to a full Bushfire Safety Management Plan.
The resident has rightly said that, if conciliation does not lead to a full Bushfire Safety Management Plan, he will press the matter on to an urgent hearing to get an order for one to be developed.
It is hard to see an adjudicator appointed by the Commissioner not finding that a full Bushfire Safety Management Plan would not be required, given the recent findings of the Bushfire Royal Commission, the devastation caused to Binna Burra in early 2020, and the widespread bushfire devastation suffered by rural communities across Australia in 2020, most notably to those who did not have Bushfire Safety Management Plans.
Wilson Haynes congratulates the Qld Commissioner for Body Corporate and Community Management on the departmental decision, for the benefit of our local Gold Coast communities.
For more information contact Jim Wilson- Legal Practice Director