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Commissioners Corner – Accessing Records Part 1 (QLD)

One of the more common queries my Office receives is about access to body corporate records.

It stands to reason this query would come up frequently, as it is through access to records that a person with an interest in that scheme can learn – objectively – about how things are operating at the scheme, as well as basic yet essential information such as the body corporate roll.

Body corporate legislation is quite prescriptive about how to access records. That said, I do know it is an issue that often causes confusion or uncertainty for those either wanting to access, or those who are having to decide about giving that access.

So in this article I will attempt to address some of the more common queries about access to records. All answers are based upon the relevant provisions of the Body Corporate and Community Management Act 1997 and its regulation modules.

Q: Who is entitled to access records?

 A: The following are entitled to access records:

  • an owner of a lot in the scheme
  • a mortgagee of a lot
  • the buyer of a lot (e.g. someone intending to purchase the lot and is seeking information about the body corporate as a result)
  • someone who satisfies the body corporate of a proper interest in the records (e.g. a tenant who wants information about living in or using a lot)
  • the agent of someone in this list.

If you don’t satisfy any of these categories, you are not entitled to access records.

Q: I’m a lot owner. Body corporate records are technically “mine”, so shouldn’t I just be given a copy on request, when I need them, no questions asked?

A: No. While you may be entitled to access records, you are still required to:

  • submit a written request to the body corporate; and
  • pay a fee.

To inspect, the fee is $16.65 (if you are an owner) or $32.05 (if not an owner).
To obtain copies, the fee is $0.65 per page.

The body corporate must let you see and/or give you copies of the records you requested within seven days of submitting your written request and fee.

Q: What is a body corporate record anyway?

A: Good question! Records include (and this is not an exhaustive list):

  • accounting and financial records (e.g., bank statements)
  • orders and notices from a court, tribunal, council or other authority
  • insurance policies
  • correspondence to and from the body corporate
  • general and committee meeting minutes and meeting material
  • contracts with a body corporate manager or service contractor, and letting agent authorisations.

The legislation outlines this list further.

You may also be interested to learn that adjudicators’ orders have found the CCTV footage from a camera installed on common property is also considered a body corporate record.

Q: If I need a body corporate record urgently, can I go directly to the offices of the body corporate manager and get them there and then?

A: No. As noted above, the requirement is only to give access within seven days of receiving the written request and fee. You cannot simply turn up and expect immediate access. Records may, for example, be stored offsite.

Q: I’m the secretary of a body corporate and someone has requested records, specifically, a copy of the roll. Our roll has email addresses and telephone numbers and while the person is technically entitled to the records, I’m concerned about giving out people’s contact details like this. Can I just decline on privacy grounds?

A: While the concern about privacy is fair enough, the legislation provides that body corporate records are not subject to privacy law provisions. It is not appropriate, then, for a body corporate or body corporate manager to deny access simply on the grounds of privacy, and particularly where eligibility to access is satisfied and the written request and fee are provided.

Follow-on question: I’ve got some legitimate reasons for not wanting my name and contact details made available from the roll. Can I have my details redacted from the roll when someone makes a request to access records?

A: Unfortunately, no. There is no provision under body corporate legislation for concealing a body corporate record.

Q: I’ve gone through the proper process to obtain records and the body corporate (or body corporate manager) is still saying I can’t have them. What can I do?

A: At that point, you can apply to my Office for an order of an adjudicator to provide access to the records in question. Adjudicators’ orders can be enforced in the Magistrates Court.

This is only a small selection of the common question and answers on this topic. Stay tuned for a ‘sequel’ article about access to records.

For information on the legislation, visit http://www.legislation.qld.gov.au/.

For further information about the body corporate legislation please contact our Information Service on Freecall 1800 060 119, or visit our website www.qld.gov.au/bodycorporate.

This article was contributed by Chris Irons, Commissioner for Body Corporate and Community Management.

Leave a Reply

  1. Avatar
    Doug Hillary

    As usual, an excellent article – I thank you for your time and efforts

    1. Chris Irons
      Chris Irons

      Thanks very much for the positive feedback Doug.

  2. Avatar
    David

    Very good article I’m still not quite sure who is not entitled to the records as access seems quite broad. I look forward to the next installment.

    1. Chris Irons
      Chris Irons

      Hello David, I’d encourage you to contact our Information Service on 1800 060 119 or at our website if you have some further queries about access. Hopefully the ‘sequel’ may address some of your queries.

  3. Avatar
    Geoff Wallis

    I am an accountant in Public Practice. I deal with government every day. Most have no clue and try and baffle with fertiliser. Check out the ATO web site some day and you will know what I mean.
    Chris’ approach is if not the best, is one of the best and deserves commendation. He goes out of his way to inform, educate and assist.

    As usual, worth reading

    1. Chris Irons
      Chris Irons

      Thanks very much for the positive feedback Geoff

  4. Avatar
    Richard Paton

    Thanks Chris, very informative, like wise, looking forward to the sequel,

    1. Chris Irons
      Chris Irons

      Thanks very much for the positive feedback Richard. Hopefully the ‘sequel’ will address further queries on the topic.

  5. Avatar
    Andrew Knox

    So good to see a public servant in a high position that takes the time to interact with the public in order to educate them. Well done Chris.

    1. Chris Irons
      Chris Irons

      Thanks very much for the positive feedback Andrew

  6. Avatar
    Brian

    Very good well explained article on an important point of body corporate record access.

    1. Chris Irons
      Chris Irons

      Thanks very much for the positive feedback Brian

  7. Avatar
    Maurie Kingston

    It is great to have someone in authority express this advice so clearly and concisely.

    Maurie.

    1. Chris Irons
      Chris Irons

      Thanks very much for the positive feedback Maurie

  8. Avatar
    Brent

    Excellent, informative article as usual. With regards to the insurance, I cannot understand why owners are not provided with the insurance details, at the very least information on what is and what is not covered by the policy. It seems to come down to only being informed when a claim is lodged.
    I look forward to the next instalment- again, thank you for your valuable information

    1. Chris Irons
      Chris Irons

      Thanks very much for your positive feedback Brent. If you have some further queries about access, I would encourage you to contact our Information Service on 1800 060 119 or visit the website. The ‘sequel’ may also address further queries.

  9. Avatar
    Ross Anderson

    I agree with the above comments…articles like this are very useful.
    Would it be possible for Chris to expand on the requirement that the request for access must be in writing?
    In particular, must the written request be in the Form 12 provided by his office, or is the interested person seeking the access free to use any written form eg an e-mail?
    It is my understanding that Form 12 is only an Office Form provided by the Commr’s office as a helpful guide, and is not a form prescribed/mandated under the legislation.

    1. Chris Irons
      Chris Irons

      Thanks very much for the positive feedback Ross. If you have further queries about access I would encourage you to contact our Information Service on 1800 060 119 or visit the website.

  10. Avatar
    Suzanne Ekert

    Good article. We live in a layered scheme and can access searches of our lot and subsidiary scheme on Stratamax which we pay for through our Body Corporate. The Committee have advised we cannot access the principal scheme info on Stratamax, only the four representatives. Surely this is not fair and reasonable in 2017. The individual lot owners pay thousands to the principal scheme and must have easy access to information about what it is doing or not doing

    1. Chris Irons
      Chris Irons

      Thanks very much for the positive feedback Suzanne. If you have further queries about access I would encourage you to contact our Information Service on 1800 060 119 or visit the website.

  11. Avatar
    Neal Davis

    This article really helps me to pursue financial information I have been asking the Body Corporate/Committee to provide for some 16 months and have not had a satisfactory answer.
    I would also like to know more about making a request in writing – can this be by email; does it need to be a formal letter or as one respondent has asked is there a particular form to use?
    Appreciate early reply so I can follow up on my requests.

    1. Avatar
      Ross Anderson

      Neal…hi.
      If you contact the Unit Owners Association of Qld (Ph. 32200959), they will refer you to me. I would be happy to provide whatever assistance I can.
      The “access of records” process is simple, cheap and generally effective. Most bodies corporate/body corporate managers are happy to oblige, particularly if you can be a bit flexible regarding timelines for compliance.
      Also, the possibility of big fines for non-compliance helps oil the access process as well.
      Ross Anderson

    2. Chris Irons
      Chris Irons

      Thanks very much for your positive feedback Neal. If you have further queries about access I would encourage you to contact our Information Service on 1800 060 119 or visit the website.

  12. Avatar
    Graeme Loughton

    I find Chris Iron’s articles highly informative and follow them with great interest. May I suggest a topic that could be of general interest? It is a principle of governance well established in corporations law that a director or committee member owes responsibility to the entity, and is no way ‘a representative of the members’. (I could look up the precedents if I still had my university notes.) The topic would be to what extent and why this principle applies in the Body Corporate area.

    Graeme

    1. Chris Irons
      Chris Irons

      Thanks very much for the positive feedback Graeme. I will take onboard your suggestion for an article on this topic.

  13. Avatar
    Parminder Masson

    It’s strange to notice that the QLD legislation is said to have provision where phone numbers and email addresses of lot Owners are constituted as records of Strata Company/Body Corporate. This is not the case in legislations of Victoria and WA etc.

    If the Body Corporate or the Strata Management Company is an APP entity, under Federal Legislation including Privacy Act, the duties of APP entity include protection of information obtained by Body Corporate for its primary use.

    It would be pleasure to learn more about legal provisions and basis of their interpretation according to QLD legislation and their application as described in article above.

    1. Chris Irons, Commissioner
      Chris Irons, Commissioner

      Hello Parminder and thanks for your enquiry. If you have further queries on this topic I recommend you contact the Information Service of my Office on 1800 060 119 or at the website.