The limits of committee powers

10 March 2020

The committee will make the majority of the decisions for the body corporate. This is because the committee has the power to make decisions on any issue that is not a “restricted issue”.

If a decision is a restricted issue of any of these categories, a general meeting is required for the body corporate to make the decision.

A restricted issue includes:

  • Fixing or changing levies.
  • Issues that the body corporate has decided need to be made by ordinary resolution.
  • Issues that the legislation specifically provides can only be made by resolution without dissent, special resolution, majority resolution or ordinary resolution of the body corporate. Common examples include varying a management rights agreement, granting exclusive use or spending limit restrictions.
  • Commencing proceedings unless it is one of the following:
    • for a liquidated debt against the owner of a lot (for example, levy recovery);
    • one that the body corporate is already a party to (for example, a counterclaim);
    • by-law enforcement; or
    • an application in the Commissioner’s Office.
  • Payments to committee members unless it is limited to reimbursement of expenses to attend a committee meeting of no more than $50 (capped to a maximum of $300 in a 12 month period).
  • Changing rights, privileges or obligations of the owners of lots included in the community titles scheme. This category is the “catch all” and where most of the disputes arise. What constitutes a right, privilege or obligation was considered in Inn Cairns [2011] QBCCMCmr 103 where the adjudicator relevantly provided:

“However, I am also not persuaded that this has changed the “rights” or “privileges” of owners. There is no evidence about the effect of that change of status, for example, that the area will now cost more to maintain, or that the car park will affect other car parks in a negative way. Even if there was, it is the “rights” and “privileges” of owners which are the criteria, and not the effect on the body corporate as owner of the common property. Even if the area was for some reason now going to cost more to maintain, that only affects owners indirectly.”

Accordingly, for a decision to be a restricted issue, a specific right, privilege or obligation of owners (not the body corporate) needs to be identified.