What is a body corporate?

Posted in Money basics

These days a body corporate is called an owners corporation. These are formed by the owners of a piece of land that is subdivided into flats, units or apartments to manage, and maintain the common areas everyone uses like the stairwell, car park, or pool.

There are laws that determine what owners corporations can and can’t do and the rules they can and can’t set. With freehold property ownership and large mixed-use projects, the owners’ corporation can engage professional strata management or body corporate management to manage the building on behalf of all owners.

The body corporate / owners corporation deals with either physical property issues or issues relating to people living together. Physical property includes gardens, tennis courts, driveways etc. and issues relating to people living together include parking, behaviour and noise. Body corporate / owners corporation can make decisions at either a general meeting of all the owners or a meeting of the committee. In other words people can’t make individual decisions.


The body corporate / owners corporation must ensure they have public liability insurance cover. It must also have the building covered under an authorised damage policy that will replace or reinstate the building back to its original condition.

How are they financed?

All owners pay a contribution (like a levy) that’s agreed to at the annual general meeting. There are two types:

  • first, there’s a contribution to the administration fund, which covers day-to-day things like insurance premiums
  • second, some owners coprorations require contributions to a sinking fund, which covers future capital expenses like driveway refurbishment, repainting, replacing carpets, overhauling the lift and repairing roofs and gutters.

Contributions usually go up if new work needs to be done or additional expenses pop up. And if you’re an owner you can vote against an increase or put up a motion for a different amount if you want. Body corporate managers can also put forward a motion for an increase in contributions.

By being actively involved in the running of a body corporate / owners corporation you can have a real say in how funds are spent and how projects are planned, so get involved!

More information


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69 Responses to What is a body corporate?

  1. Marilyn Thompson says:

    I own a unit which I live in, their are 3 units all together. In the past 9 Months on 2 occassions we have had to get a plumber to repair a Water meter that is postioned at the front of the driveway. Each Unit has their own meter. I want to know does Body Corporate Insurance cover this.


  2. Marilyn Thompson says:

    Please submit the above

    Thank you


    Marilyn Thompson

  3. robert says:

    my doughter is buying a 3 bedroom house in melbourne. does she have to be with body corporate. is it compulsry to be with bod corporate?

    • NAB says:

      Hi Robert, as body corporates are formed by the owners of a piece of land that is subdivided into flats, units or apartments to manage, and maintain the common areas everyone uses like the stairwell, car park, pool etc. It’s not related to a stand alone 3 bedroom house. For any further enquiries, please email us at social.media@nab.com.au ^SM

  4. Beth Burdett says:

    Hello, Just an inquiry I have a property (house and land) that has a common driveway entrance with 2 other properties. We have a common area of the driveway and land either side of it. How do we go about becomong a body corporate and what are our obligations in this common area? I assume we should be having meetings and have public liabilityy insurance etc. Could you direct me as to where to find out further information.

    • NAB says:

      Hi Beth, there are a few reference links at the end of the blog above – You can check out the appropriate state link for more info – Additionally, please email us at social.media@nab.com.au, with details and I can have the team give you a call to look into this for you ^SM

  5. marguerite hood says:

    My unit has been flooded. I have content insurance, which is being addressed. But what is the body corporates obligations to me as regards a water logged vanity, water logged built in robes, doors. Please advise.

  6. marguerite hood says:

    The water also went through the joining wall between my unit and my neighbour (she is a tenant, not an owner). Her bedroom carpet also got wet (nothing like mine though). Surely the wall between units is a structure and not a fitting.

  7. Nicola says:


    I wondered if you could give some clarification over responsibility for repairs. The general rule that I’ve been told is if the repair is to common property or the structure of the building it is body corporate responsibility.

    But what about doors that secure an individual unit that open into common property eg a garage door and the electric motor that opens it? Is this considered to be the owners responsibility or the body corporate? What about front doors?

    Thanks for your advice.


  8. NAB says:

    Hi Nicola, keen to look into this for you – are you able to provide me with further details and a contact number to social.media@nab.com.au? I’ll have the team follow this up for you ^LB

  9. Kerry says:

    I am the director of our body corporate. We have particular tenants that do not like to follow the common sense rules that our Body Corporate has. Our units have a sign up stating that the property is for tenants cards only. This particular tenant allows his visitors to park outside his unit. He has been asked on many occasions to have his visitors park outside. Can we have his visitors car towed because we do have the Tenants Cars Only sign up?

  10. Funda says:


    I have a unit that has caused water damage from the balcony to the inside of my house. I only have landlord insurance as I have tenants at the moment.

    Does body corporate cover this repair.

    The water has leaked from the balcony into the house and done some significant damage to the plaster and carpets fittings etc.

    Can you please advise..?

    Thank you


  11. Michelle says:

    Just wondering how I go about setting up a bank account in the name of our owners corporation. I own both properties on. The block, however because insurances etc are in owners corporation number we really need a relevant bank account.


  12. Steve F says:

    My wife and I have subdivived our land in Vic. We have an existing 40 year old house plus 2 new 3 bedroom houses. All the houses have indvidual titles. There is a common driveway. As we own all 3 houses do we still have to set up a body corporate or have owners corporation insurance? We currently have standard buldling insurance and land lords insurance that covers the common property.

  13. Joe says:

    Interested in this answer as i am in the same boat…

  14. John says:

    There is a lot of information that we will like to know through other people’s questions. I don’t really understand why all the comments signed ^LB are like a formatted reply of send me your details I will let the team look It up for you!??! Some of those of course require some details to be able to get the right answer for those people but some really are general inquiries. I guess it will be helpful to put some general information about the services involved- which will be useful information for us -then investigate further with the specific person…

  15. mike says:

    my back neighbor is the chair leader for shell haven an insists that I remove the security lights on side of driveway an also at entrance door an front house. She also because I do not have a vehical thinks has full priority of driveway and also sidw brick fence on my property. Does she have the right to do as pleases by removing an doing as pleases on my house which own an property of mine

  16. Margaret Whitstock says:

    What are the rules for common property? In particular, how can we respond when a resident smokes marijuana in the stairwell. Thank you.

  17. Lisa Rutland says:

    Hi Margaret

    Only the committee can direct the resident to stop smoking. You need to make a complaint, in writing, to the body corporate about the issue. All complaints should form part of the body corporate records which I only mention for full clarity. I know some people don’t like to complain. In the world of body corporates there isn’t really a lot of other options to get something done.

  18. Jen Sharrock says:

    Hi. The situation is that I own I unit of a set of three. My unit is a 3 bedroom with a yard and garden shed. One owner owns the other two; they are both 1 bedroom with no yard and no garden shed. However; the body corporate charges me, the owner, $700 per year to mow the tinniest section of grass at the very front of the bedroom window. My tenant wants to mow this herself as the body corporate are very slack and the grass is always overgrown and “ugly”. Can I, the owner, allow my tenant to mow her area? This will rud me from paying body corporate fees. Thank you Jen

  19. Dane Tahapeehi says:

    Hi, when setting up an account in name of a body corporate to fund insurance, maintenance etc, do i need a property manager for this? i won half of a duplex, me and the other owner are wondering can i set up a bank account myself with my own bank but in the name of the body corp, does both our names have to be registered on this account also for tax purposes



  20. Hian Chan says:

    Hi, there. I own a freestanding house (which is rented out) in the 2 unit sub-division which has some common property consisting of the driveway and garden with plant and trees down the side which is quite a common scenario around the suburbs.
    I understand that there are some home and landlord policies that will cover my liability on the common property. They are not covering the liability of the owners corporation – only my share of the liability to the OC arising from my ownership of the building insured with the insurer.
    Can you advise which insurer will offer this type of policy?

    • NAB says:

      Hi Hian, For this type of enquiry you’ll need to speak to one of our insurance specialists on 132 928. I can also organise a callback if you like. Email your enquiry plus contact details to social.media@nab.com.au and I’ll have someone from the team contact you ^JM

  21. John Watson says:

    I wanted to gain knowledge about what body corporates are … despite this post being so old i was able to gain a lot because of such a knowledgeable discussion going on … thanks everyone especially NAB

  22. peter says:

    hi there .I was wondering there is three units on my property which included in body corp.. we do nothing which is incorpated with the body corp except send out the insurance each year to be payed..i don’t know what is invouled in body corp ..l have been living here for over ten years and no one really care about the body corp.. l tried to cancelled the body corp but l got told l cant…but l am wanting to sell soon and thought l better look into this body corp to set up .how to do this …have u have any ideas where to look and who to see to do this

    • NAB says:

      Hi Peter, there are a few reference links at the end of the blog above – You can check out the appropriate state link for more info – Additionally, please email us at social.media@nab.com.au, with details and I can have the team give you a call to look into this for you ^LB

  23. Jakes oosthuiZen says:

    hi there,

    just a query…..

    i used to work for a body corporation, yesterday when i went to visit my parents at their holiday accomodation in Margate KZN i was notified through the security guard that we had to pay a entrance fee of R25 pp and R25pc. it was me, my brother my son of 16months and the car all in total R100.00…..is this a legal procedure or is it just a money making procedure?

    awaiting feedback.



    • NAB says:

      Hi Jakes, I’m not able to comment on the Body Corporate legislation that apply anywhere outside of Australia – I recommend contacting the accomodation provider directly for further assistance ^DH

  24. Mel says:

    Hi i own unit 1 on a block of 10 units. My one is at the front and it has biggest garden out of them all. Had this place for 13 years. And i planted a palm tree which is beautiful and 8m long, planted 10 years ago. Manager for B.c Which is one of the owners on the block decided on the meeting to cut my palm tree which is dangerous for a brick wall (meter away of the wall) on the meeting they made a decision to cut my palm tree mind you deciaion made by 2 owners. 2 out of 10 and body corp. Sent me a letter that i have to cut my palm tree on my expense in 2 weeks time otherwise they ll cut it and send me the bill. What are my rights here and how many pepole can decide out of 10 i thought its majority.

    • NAB says:

      Hi Mel, I’m sorry to hear this – via the information provided in our Blog (eg Tenants Rights Victoria) it’s best to check with the links provided to see what rights you may have ^LB

  25. ebcmbrisbane says:

    you have defined nicely body corp[orate,We usually face a lot of problem because people actually don’t know what actually that mean. This post will really help them to know what actually body corporate is.Well done!

  26. Judy Sampson says:

    I have a query in relation to Body Corporate.
    All our units (12 in total) have balconies save for the 2 units on ground floor.
    The Body Corporate says they are not responsible for the balconies belonging to the
    units with same.
    One balcony needed to be uprooted and refurbished as new at a considerable cost to the owner occupier
    (approx 10,000 dollars to the couple concerned).

    Body Corp said they were not responsible could you give me advice on this please?

    Kind Regards – Judy

  27. Sam Alex B says:

    Hi, We live in an estate with body corporate, We bought the property in 2002, so have been paying the fees for the past 13 years. There is a common building which has a pool, tennis court and a small gym with a few machines etc. The original company we had the contract with has sold it to a new company and then it got sold again to another company. Since the last 3-4 years we have not used any of the facilities provided by the common building ie pool, gym etc as change of life style, having 2 kids, work and other committments, however we still pay hundreds of dollars in fees. (We are paying for a product we dont use and don’t want to use anymore!). My question is, Is there a way to deactivate or get out of the contract from Body corporate or we just keep on paying the fees forever ? Also there are families in the estate we know who are in the same boat as us, eg old couples etc who just dont use the gym or pool but still paying hundreds of dollars in body corporate fees ?
    Kind Regards, Samantha.

    • NAB says:

      Hi Samantha,

      For information on body Corporate and opt-outs, if any, you’ll need to contact your local Civil and Administrative Tribunal ^SN

  28. Becca says:

    hi, so we bought in a community title and now with other land owners have started out body corporate, we know that we need to organise a administration account as well as a sink account yet not sure how to do so. will we need to get an ABN for the body corporate then open accounts with that? if so what would you suggest be the right accounts for us to open?

  29. Simone Stanford says:

    We own a townhouse in a complex of 18 townhouses. All townhouses have a sensor light at the front door. Our tenant reported the light was not working and the property manager arranged for it’s repair. Can I submit the invoice of the repair to the body corporate for reimbursement given they are responsible for external common property maintenance?

    • NAB says:

      Hi Simone, it’s best if you contact Body Corporate directly and they’ll be able to help you further with that :) ^BH

  30. chris walsh says:

    There are 9 units in our complex and the body corp is chaired by one of the owner residents. Unfortunately this chairperson has taken on making decisions herself and treats some owner/occupiers with disrespect.
    Is there a mediation person/process so we as a body corp can change the chairpeson or move to an independant body?

    • NAB says:

      Hi Chris,

      For assistance with your enquiry, it is best to contact the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal, or equivalent in your State.

      They’ll be able to offer further advice ^SN

  31. Kim vo says:

    Hi as the owner of unit 3,i recently sign with MBCM b/corporation company with out reading the fee section carefully now i’m paying 1200 p year plus 355 to start the insurance. Compare to last year where i was only paying 350 with a different company. Can i stop the contract?

  32. michael says:

    What is the NAB policy in relation to lending to Body Corporates. We have a large block of apartments (100+) and want to lease some new energy efficient lighting which will cut our power bills dramatically.

  33. Kathy says:

    Hi, I have an apartment in a block. The hotwater system is gas and is communal with the other units of that building. My tenant has had limited hot was recently and not much water pressure. Would this be a body corp maintenance issue given its used by all the apartments and now just ours? The body corp manager said I would need to get a plumber as my tenant is the only one with the problem. Would love some clarity on this.
    Thanks, Kathy

    • NAB says:

      Hi Kathy,

      For assistance with your enquiry, it is best to contact the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal, or equivalent in your State ^SN

  34. Ella says:

    Hi, We have accidentally damaged the lobby area of the apartment block in which we are renting. We don’t dispute the damage- it was our fault. However we were told we could not help in finding someone/ getting quotes to repair the damage, and just received an invoice for the damage which seems excessive. Do we have any rights in this circumstance?
    Thanks, Ella

    • NAB says:

      Hi Ella, it is best to contact the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal, or equivalent in your State for assistance with your enquiry. They’ll be able to offer further advice on the situation ^TC

  35. Dee says:

    My husband and I own a unit in a 16 complex apartment block that we are currently leasing out. We have had this place for about 5 years and within that time we have spent money fixing the place up, including replacing all windows with our own money. Now the body corporate intends to have all windows replaced in the building and expects us to pay to have this done again. We’ve been told that we have no choice. What are our options? We don’t want to pay for this again.

    • NAB says:

      Hi Dee, there are some links at the end of the article above – you can check out the appropriate state link for more info, hopefully they help ^BH

  36. barry says:

    we have recently purchased half of a duplex a 2 br plus garage with common driveway we would like to install a double carport at the front of our dwelling do i have to seek permission from BC as there is only 2 of us on BC .we are in Qld.

  37. Al says:

    Hi, is there any necessity for an individual home and contents insurance policy – for a unit on subdivided land – to be provided by the same insurer as that which provides the owners’ corporation insurance? An alternative bank indicated that this was the case but this seems strange. Can you clear this up?
    Thank you.

    • NAB says:

      Hi Al,

      NAB is not able to provide building insurance on a unit on a Strata title.

      We can provide contents insurance.

      This is general information though and if you’d like to speak to a Specialist you may contact the Team on 13 29 28 Mon-Fir 8am-9pm and Sat –Sun 9am-5pm AEST/AEDT for tailored advice ^SN

  38. Lena says:

    Hi I am looking at buying a unit in a block of 6. However, the owners corp is not active and so there is no insurance of the common property apart from on the individual insurance cover. The other owners are not interested in reactivating the owners corp. Are their any legal consequences for having my own insurance policy and not having an “owners corp” policy??

    • NAB says:

      Hi Lena,

      You’re best to enquire with your local Civil and Administrative Tribunal for assistance and guidance ^SN

  39. Kevin Broadribb says:

    My wife and I bought a unit a few months ago. it is one of five free-standing units with their own fenced backyards but a common entry driveway and car park spaces. There are no buildings on the common area. Our dwelling is covered by body corporate insurance but it seems to exclude risks associated with bushfires and we are close to bushland. It does not cover contents. There is no apparent mechanism for ascertaining the value of each of the five properties. I have obtained a quote from elsewhere that covers both our dwelling and contents and is much cheaper than the insurance arranged by the body corporate. Am I forced to accept the insurance cover arranged by the body corporate? Is there any way of ensuring the body corporate gets quotes for insurance cover? Are there any available mechanisms to keep body corporate fees at reasonable levels?

    • NAB says:

      Hi Kevin,

      You’d be best to contact your State’s Civil and Administrative Tribunal for guidance on this issue ^SN

  40. Harry de Wit says:

    Who’s responsible is it when we had a large storm and had broken tiles on the roof. Does the body corp pay for that as I have complained many times as the unit is 45ys old. Many of the tiles were broken due to the large storm which came the roof and damaged the bedroom and bed, which I know it’s covered by my insurance. All I want to know is it the Bodey Corp responsible for the roof.

  41. Michael palmblad says:

    Hi Iam inquiring about common property my wife and I bought a unit on the Sunshine Coast and when we first bought the unit the managers done the mowing and weed eating in the common area at no charge and since the sold out the new management have started to charge us for mowing the grass in the common area outside our unit is it bodyycorp responceabilty to maintain they or our responcerbility kind regards Michael

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