Landscaping in a body corporate

Landscaping in a body corporate

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During a recent Q&A session with Strata Operations Manager Matthew Savage, we shared valuable insights regarding the roles and responsibilities of lot owners and body corporates concerning landscaping in strata properties.  

This article aims to provide clear guidance on this matter using the example of Bridgeman Greens, a building format plan of subdivision.  

If you have any questions regarding body corporate, you can submit them here. 

About Bridgeman Greens

Bridgeman Greens is a small, residential subdivision located in the prestigious Brisbane suburb of Bridgeman Downs.  

This complex is a standard building format plan, meaning lot owners are granted exclusive use rights over their individual backyards or courtyards. To illustrate this, imagine standing on the common area driveway and looking at a specific townhouse. In this scenario, everything located from the front wall of that townhouse and extending backward is the sole responsibility of the respective lot owner. 

Making changes to the front courtyard 

While some bodies corporates may allocate the responsibility of maintaining front gardens to individual lot owners as exclusive use areas, for Bridgeman Greens this is not the case, and it is up to the body corporate to keep them maintained. 

As such, if a lot owner wanted to make alterations or modifications to the front courtyard of their specific lot, it would essentially be considered as a change to the common property for the exclusive benefit of the lot owner.  

To address such situations, the regulations provide a specific section outlining how the body corporate should handle such requests. If the proposed change is minor and the estimated value does not exceed three thousand dollars, the committee holds the authority to grant approval for the alteration. 

To give an example. If a lot owner at Bridgemen Greens wanted to plant a rose bush in their front courtyard, it would be considered a modification to the common property. The lot owner would therefore be responsible for covering all the costs associated with this change. If the estimated value of the modification falls below three thousand dollars, the lot owner could seek approval from the body corporate committee for the alteration. 

Once the rose bush has been planted, the ongoing maintenance responsibility for the garden bed would generally shift back to the body corporate or the building’s caretaking service provider for the continued upkeep and maintenance of that particular garden bed.  

Backyard Responsibilities 

While the backyard of a building format plan townhouse is subject to exclusive use, it is still an area of common property owned by the body corporate.  

Under the exclusive use by-law, all maintenance costs and responsibilities are transferred to each individual lot owner. As a result, lot owners are responsible for the maintenance of their own backyards due to the exclusive use grant they have been given.   

The provisions within exclusive use by-laws can vary regarding whether owners are permitted to make changes to their exclusive use areas at the back. In some cases, these by-laws may grant owners the authority to modify their exclusive use areas, while in other cases, they may not allow such alterations.  

If the by-law prohibits owners from making changes to these areas, any adjustments or modifications may still necessitate the approval of the body corporate. Additionally, the associated costs for such changes would remain the responsibility of the individual lot owner, even with the body corporate’s approval.  

Common Property Ownership 

As mentioned above, despite being subject to exclusive use by-laws, the backyards in building format plan developments are still considered part of the common property and as such, owned by the body corporate. Therefore, any changes made by a lot owner to their backyard effectively constitute a modification to the common property for their personal benefit. 

In cases where a lot owner is uncertain about whether a proposed change requires approval, it is generally advisable to contact the body corporate directly for confirmation.   

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