Renovating a property within a community title scheme can enhance its use and value, making it a common aspiration for homeowners and investors. However, before embarking on such a project, it is crucial to consider several important factors to avoid additional costs, delays, and potential disputes. In some cases, owners may be required to restore their lot to its original condition at their own expense if proper procedures are not followed.


What Do the By-Laws Say?

Firstly, review the by-laws for your scheme, typically found in Schedule C of the community management statement. If the by-laws require Body Corporate approval, you must submit an application for the committee’s consideration. This application should include a proposed motion and detailed information about your planned renovations, such as plans and specifications. The Body Corporate may impose reasonable conditions on your application, including requirements that the work be performed by qualified professionals and in a manner that does not create a nuisance or unreasonable interference for other lot owners.


In addition to Body Corporate approval, you may also need to obtain approval from the local authority, which could involve town planning and certification advice.


Do the Works Impact Common Property?

Secondly, consider whether your renovations will impact common property. In schemes created under a building format plan of subdivision, common property can include exterior parts of the building, such as doors, skylights, windows, and exclusive use areas.


If your renovations:


  • Affect or dispose of common property, or
  • Permanently occupy common property for your sole use,


a higher threshold of approval may be required. For example, installing a skylight that requires removing a block wall on common property constitutes a disposal of common property. Building a deck that encroaches onto common property is an occupation of common property.


If your renovations:


  1. Affect Common Property: The Body Corporate must pass an ordinary resolution at a general meeting if the renovations:


  • Have an installed value of over $3,000;
  • Detract from the appearance of a lot or common property; or
  • Are deemed by the committee to promote a breach of an owner’s duties as an occupier.


  1. Dispose of Common Property: The Body Corporate must pass a resolution without dissent at a general meeting.


  1. Permanently Occupy Common Property: The Body Corporate must grant a use right over the area, such as exclusive use, by resolution without dissent.


A resolution without dissent is challenging to achieve because it requires that no lot owner votes against your application. Adjudicators have required lot owners to remove improvements that permanently alienate common property without an appropriate use right (City Views [2023] QBCCMCmr 379). This underscores the importance of obtaining correct approvals. Just because a neighbor had their renovation approved does not guarantee yours will be.


Do the Works Impact Body Corporate Insurance?

Thirdly, if your renovations are likely to increase the Body Corporate’s insurance premium, you must provide details of the nature and value of the renovations to the Body Corporate. In such cases, you will be responsible for any increase in the insurance premium and the ongoing maintenance of the renovations.


By carefully considering these points, you can help ensure a smooth renovation process within your community title scheme.