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.