A body corporate plan is an essential document in any strata scheme, because it defines some of the most important aspects of how the scheme operates.
What exactly is a body corporate plan?
A body corporate plan is a legal document that establishes which areas of the entire property are owned by the unit owners, and which areas are common property. The plan will show the lots in the scheme and the boundaries of common property, and the divisions between the two will be clearly shown. All legal aspects relating to individual property and common property will be defined in this plan.
What a body corporate plan is used for
A body corporate plan has a number of purposes, and can be used to:
- Determine which format plan your scheme is registered under
- Show where common property boundaries lie
- Help people differentiate between individual property and common property
- Allow people to determine who is responsible for paying for maintenance and repairs of certain items
Why is this important to know?
The actions of residents on common property are restricted without first gaining approval from your strata scheme. Thus, it’s important to know where the boundaries between common property and individual property lie.
As well, uncertainty often arises when it comes to determining who is responsible for repairs and maintenance, as it can be complicated in some circumstances to tell who is responsible for what. Many of the contentious issues that arise in body corporate schemes come from a lack of understanding regarding who is responsible when things go wrong; for example, a leaking roof, a burst pipe that floods your neighbour’s unit, storm damage to your balcony or cracks in the external wall. The issue becomes even more complicated because the rules for who is responsible change depending on what format plan your body corporate scheme is registered under.
It all cases, everything that falls within the boundaries of an individual lot is deemed to be that individual’s responsibility, and everything that falls onto common property is deemed to be the responsibility of the body corporate. Common property is defined as anything that is not part of a lot. It sounds simple enough, but confusion often occurs about where those boundaries lie. That’s where the body corporate plan comes into play. This plan is the only way to be certain about the exact location of those boundaries, as these are determined by what format plan your building falls under.
All community titles schemes in Queensland are registered under a plan of subdivision. This body corporate plan will show that your building is either one of the two types of strata schemes that exist in Queensland, these being:
- Standard format plan
- Building format plan
The boundaries between individual lot property and common property are defined differently depending on which type of plan a scheme is registered under.
Standard format plan
- Used for: gated communities and townhouses (i.e. horizontal developments).
- Where does the boundary lie? Boundaries are measured from pegs in the ground, so the boundary of your property will basically be a line encircling your entire unit (boundaries are also measured this way for freestanding houses).
- Who maintains what? Everything that falls within your lot boundary (the imaginary line encircling your unit) is your responsibility to maintain. The body corporate will maintain all parts of the property that are not included inside anyone’s unit boundary.
- For example: the entire front door, balcony, ceiling and roof are considered to be your property, and thus your responsibility to repair and maintain.
Building format plan
- Used for: all vertical developments (i.e. buildings that contain levels).
- Where does the boundary lie? All boundaries are measured from the centre of the walls, ceilings, floors and doors.
- Who maintains what? You will maintain everything that extends from the inside of the invisible boundary line that lies in the centre of walls, ceilings, floors and doors, and the body corporate will maintain everything that falls outside that line (and that is not part of another owner’s individual property).
- For example: you are responsible for maintaining the inside of your door and balcony, while the outside of your door and balcony are the responsibility of the body corporate. You will need to maintain your ceiling, while the body corporate will need to maintain the roof of the building.
Keep in mind though that in certain specific cases, responsibility will vary from what is considered normal. Where certain unit owners have exclusive use rights to some common property, responsibility often lies with them when it comes to maintenance and repairs. It’s always wise to seek advice that’s pertinent to your specific situation.
A strata community plan is designed to benefit owners by making things clear and simple for everyone to understand, so that you know exactly what you will need to pay for. It’s important for all owners to examine and understand your body corporate plan, particularly before you buy into the building. Knowing your rights as an owner will help you stay ahead of the game, and will help to minimise unpleasant surprises down the track.
How do I get access to my body corporate plan?
When you purchase your strata unit, you will be supplied with a copy of the body corporate plan, showing the entire part of the property that will belong to you, and where the boundaries lie. Documents will also be included that define the amount of ongoing levies you will be required to pay, and details of the insurance that covers the unit or lot.
You can also contact the Titles Registry Office to get a copy of your body corporate plan, which will include a community management statement showing what your regulation module is, and a registered survey plan showing the boundaries.
Contact Capitol if you need help understanding your body corporate plan
As always, if you need help understanding your body corporate plan or determining who is responsible for what, contact your Community Relationship Manager at Capitol for help and advice. We’re always just a phone call or email away.
Read more about common property here.