If you live in an apartment, unit, townhouse or flat your home may be managed by a body corporate. A body corporate is a committee made up of the individual owners of the units in the same complex. While some body corporates are self-managed, often a manager is employed to run the body corporate and deal with day-to-day issues. Body corporates are required to have meetings, where issues relating to common areas are discussed and decisions or rules may be voted on.
Obligations of Body Corporate
The body corporate is required to maintain the common areas. Common areas are any areas which are not within your unit. This includes stairwells, foyers, lifts, driveways, common parking areas, swimming pools, garden areas and any other shared complex areas.
Your relationship to the Body Corporate
As a tenant, you have a legal relationship with your landlord, however you do not have a legal relationship with the body corporate. Therefore, you cannot become a member of your body corporate or participate in its meetings, unless your landlord agrees in writing.
The body corporate is not part of your tenancy agreement so they cannot force you to do something or take action to evict you. However, the body corporate can request that your landlord take action against you if you have broken the body corporate rules.
The diagram below shows the legal relationship between tenants, landlords and body corporates:
Body corporate rules
Tenants must comply with the body corporate rules or articles. Your landlord must give you a copy of the body corporate rules before you sign your lease. If you have not been given a copy of the rules, it is a good idea to request a copy.
While a body corporate can make rules for the benefit of common areas, it cannot change or override your rights as a tenant that you have under the Residential Tenancies Act.
If you breach the body corporate rules, you may receive written notice requesting that you remedy the breach. If you fail to remedy the breach, the body corporate may remedy the breach itself and make a claim against you for compensation. Your breach of the body corporate rules may also be a breach of your tenancy agreement or the Residential Tenancies Act 1999 (NT).
Repairs need to be done to the common area, but no one is taking responsibility for it
If you notice that repairs need to be carried out in any of the common areas, write to your landlord and ask them to take action to ensure the body corporate carries out the repairs. You are not required to negotiate directly with the body corporate because your legal relationship is with your landlord.
If the landlord takes reasonable steps to get the body corporate to carry out the necessary repairs but the body corporate fails to fulfil its obligations, it is up to the landlord to take action against the body corporate.
If the landlord does not take any action, stating it is an issue for the body corporate, you are able to enforce your rights to repairs against the landlord. You may issue the landlord a breach notice outlining the specific repairs and if necessary make an application to apply to the NTCAT.
In your application you should state the landlord’s obligation to repair includes taking steps to ensure the body corporate carries out repairs. Please see the DCLS factsheet on Repairs and Maintenance for more information.
If you have any further questions in relation to body corporates, please contact us for more information.
Darwin Community Legal Service 2019: Non-profit community groups have permission to reproduce parts of this publication as long as the original meaning is retained and proper credit is given to DCLS, as the publisher.
Disclaimer: The information contained in this publication is a guide to the law in the Northern Territory. It is not a substitute for legal advice. You should talk to a lawyer about your particular legal issue. The information contained in this factsheet is current as at November 2019.