Be ready for when the developers come knocking


First published in the LookUpStrata Queensland Strata Magazine, April 2024


When a developer comes knocking on a strata scheme’s front door, the Body Corporate committee needs to be ready to talk.

With cities building up rather than out, the likelihood of a development going up adjoining an existing scheme is only going to increase.

And inevitably, the affected Body Corporate will need to take care when considering any impacts that could flow from the development.

Because what you’re going to have is disturbance. 

It is not uncommon for the owner of an adjoining construction site to need something from a body corporate as their project progresses. 

That might simply be access to swing a crane over a building, or it might be to install rock anchors under a building to make sure that their own building stays up while it’s being constructed.

They may need access to a part of your common property for a period of time to allow them to complete a particular aspect of the overall project. 

There are many components to any development, and the reality is the courts will generally not allow a body corporate to refuse access for those purposes when a construction is taking place. 

For a body corporate, you are far better off negotiating with the developers to agree an outcome that protects everyone. What type of crane are they using? What’s the swing plane going to be? What’s the area of property that we’re talking about and what are the disturbance costs for that? 

What about dilapidation reports? What does the building look like when the work starts and when it finishes? Is the developer going to wash down the building, because inevitably a side issue with construction is dirt and dust. 

The body corporate is certainly entitled to be paid in exchange for giving up its rights. 

One of the difficulties is you can’t really control amenity. But you can control to a degree things such as risk.

That can be by way of securing some form of cash bond from the developer or a bank guarantee or evidence that they’re insured in relation to the risk that they’re going to expose you to. 

There’s also potential disturbance to individual commercial lots that might need to be negotiated by those individual owners. 

There are many moving parts in any adjoining development. How an agreement is negotiated depends to a degree on what the developer needs from the body corporate and the approach the body corporate takes in response. 

Whatever is agreed should be documented, should be locked down and should be approved at a general meeting. If the body corporate is going to give away rights in relation to common property, that’s a restricted issue from a committee perspective which needs the approval of owners. 

Any agreement that has not been signed-off by owners will potentially lead to a legal quagmire.

We’ve negotiated our way through dozens of these agreements over the last couple of years. 

So, when the developer comes knocking, getting legal advice is a body corporate’s best first step.