Posted on 04 OCT
Q: We read your last two articles about apartments with interest. We are about to buy an apartment to renovate and just wanted to get your opinion on body corporates and what we should be wary of. We have read some real horror stories! Angela M.
A: Firstly be sure to get all the information from the selling agent: A pre-contract disclosure, copies of recent body corporate meeting minutes, financial statements, budgets, body corporate rules and the long-term maintenance plan. Be sure to read everything! The rules especially will give you an idea of whether the apartment block will work for you. If in doubt about anything then ask the agent or your lawyer. This is a very important step because this will tell you whether the building is well managed and well maintained and whether you are likely to be happy there.
If you are buying an apartment in a very small block you may find that the body corporate is not being run legally. Beware! And speak to your lawyer.
Even in a well-run complex remember that the body corp will be run by owners in the block, and it is a democracy. Not everyone will agree on everything so be prepared for a possible occasional ’confrontation’!
One of the major areas of contention is often around on-going maintenance: Some owners will want the block and common areas kept at their best, while others may not want to spend the money. Reading the BC minutes should give you a good idea of how well the complex is run.
In terms of renovating - read the body corp rules. Most complexes will allow ‘redecorating’ but may require notice of anything more than that. Generally, if you want to make a change that requires building consent you will need to get the approval of the body corp committee before starting any work.
Our strongest advice is to get on the body corporate committee. This will at least give you some control over the destiny of what may be your largest asset.