Australia’s $1 trillion strata living sector requires urgent reform to weed out unscrupulous operators, improve management and better protect owners and investors, says a Gold Coast specialist in body corporate law.
Mr Clayton Glenister, Managing Partner of Gold Coast firm MBA Lawyers, said body corporate managers and committee members risked legal action and criminal charges under outdated laws.
“Mandatory licensing and trust account obligations are well overdue and should be a no-brainer for government,” said Mr Glenister.
“For example, Queensland’s laws mean that we have managers who have access to bank accounts with literally millions of dollars in the sinking funds of bodies corporate.
“Unlike lawyers, accountants or real estate agents, those same managers are not required to be licensed or to operate trust accounts. It seems illogical and extraordinary, and it is.”
Mr Glenister said the situation was exacerbated in a sector heavily reliant on volunteers.
“Experienced, competent and reputable body corporate managers would welcome stronger protections to help with the industry perception and to weed out unscrupulous operators.”
A recent report from the University of New South Wales found that Australia’s strata and community title sector comprises 2.6 million lots, directly employs 9000 people and has assets insured to the value of almost $1 trillion.
“There are more than 50,000 bodies corporate registered in Queensland and the Gold Coast leads the sector. Around 7 per cent of the state’s population live in apartments, ” said Mr Glenister.
“However, the laws have not kept up with the sector’s rapid growth and this has created vulnerability and uncertainty for owners and investors.
“All bodies corporate should have office bearers liability insurance in place to cover most contingencies, but a review of those policies often reveals exclusions and limitations of which committees weren’t aware. It’s imperative they get competent legal advice to ensure protection.”
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