The Unit Titles Act 2010 came into force on June 2010, replacing the Unit Titles Act 1972. The new Act clarifies the rights and responsibilities of the unit owners and bodies corporate, and provides for a more efficient management and governance structure. We explain how it works and look at the options for resolving unit title disputes.
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A unit title is a form of multi-unit property ownership. Typically unit title developments are apartment blocks, units, townhouses, office blocks and industrial or retail complexes. Most unit titles are held as residential developments.
A unit title owner owns a defined part of a building such as an apartment or unit and may also have shared ownership in common areas.
Collectively the unit title owners of a development make up the body corporate. This is a management structure designed to ensure decisions affecting the development can be made jointly by the owners.
The body corporate is responsible for a range of management, financial and administrative functions relating to the common property and to the development as a whole. It has a number of key powers and duties such as:
A unit owner has rights under the Unit Titles Act which include:
The unit owner also has a number of key responsibilities which include:
The body corporate operational rules replaced the old "body corporate rules". They are a set of default rules which can be added to or amended to suit the individual characteristics of a development. All unit owners, occupiers and tenants must comply with the operational rules.
The minimum default rules are as follows.
An owner or occupier of a unit must not:
An owner or occupier of a unit must dispose of rubbish hygienically and tidily.
What if I rent the unit to a tenant?
Both the Unit Titles Act and the Residential Tenancies Act apply to a tenant living in a rented unit within a unit title development. The landlord must give the tenant notice in writing of any changes to the body corporate operational rules.
Tenants must follow the body corporate operational rules, but they don't have the right to go to a body corporate meeting. The body corporate should approach the landlord if there is any issue with the tenant.
The body corporate must hold meetings at least annually. Unit owners are entitled, as body corporate members, to attend general meetings and exercise a vote in respect of their unit.
Meetings are either annual general meetings or extraordinary general meetings.
A body corporate can call an extraordinary general meeting at any time to consider any matter relating to the unit title development – for example, agreement maybe required to undertake urgent repairs.
Within a meeting the body corporate will discuss issues of joint concern and unit owners will vote on matters affecting the development.
A special resolution is required for decisions made by the body corporate which could have significant consequences for the unit owners – for example, selling part of the common property. For a special resolution to pass, 75 percent of the vote is required.
An ordinary resolution is used for all other decisions made by a body corporate at a general meeting, such as changes to the operational rules. For an ordinary resolution to pass, a majority of the vote is required.
The Unit Titles Act sets out a clear dispute resolution process.
Sellers of unit titles are required to provide information to the buyer at different stages of the sale process. The information includes:
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