As Body Corporate Lawyers, we’ve heard every excuse imaginable.
Our top 10 favourites are:
- “I didn’t pay my levies because no one respects me.” (Sorry – respect has nothing to do with your legal obligations.)
- “When I bought the unit 20 years ago the levies were $150 a quarter and now they are $500 a quarter – I’m being robbed!” (Sorry – it’s called inflation.)
- “I didn’t approve the budget. I’m only paying what I think is fair and the other owners can pay the rest.” (Sorry – majority wins in strata living.)
- “What do you mean I haven’t paid my levies?? I paid them once two years ago!!” (Sorry – levies keep falling due – it’s not a once off expense.)
- “The Body Corporate doesn’t cut my grass, so I’m not paying my levies.” (Sorry – the Body Corporate isn’t responsible for cutting your grass.)
- “The gardener assaulted me – the weed whipper stirred up the grass and I was hit by the flying grass when I walked to my car. I want compensation, I have gone to the police and I am not paying my levies until I get justice.” (Sorry – but weed whipper incidents do not constitute an offset for levy liability.)
- “The letting agent has not paid my rent, so if I am not getting paid – neither is the Body Corporate!” (Sorry – the Body Corporate isn’t your letting agent or tenant, you can’t offset one against the other.)
- “I gave my time to the Body Corporate and they didn’t pay me, so I am deducting the value of my time against my levies.” (Sorry – but trimming your bushes does not offset your levies.)
- “My spouse and I are going through a divorce – they live there, they have to pay it!” (Sorry – but you both own the property, you are both liable to the Body Corporate.)
- “What are levies?” (Seriously?)
Owners must appreciate that it is their legislative duty to pay levies as and when they fall due. Disputes in respect to the amounts of validly raised levies need to be made at an AGM/EGM level – and not as a separate vendetta by non-payment. Additionally, an owner is not at liberty to offset from levies, any alleged or real claims the owner may have against the body corporate (such as a claim for payment of damages caused by the body corporate to an owner’s exclusive use area, consequential to a repair made to common property). Careful consideration has to be made to arguments by owners as to the responsibilities of the body corporate in relation to maintenance matters, and this is dependent on the scheme type (for example, an owner cannot impose maintenance costs on the body corporate in respect to the owner’s lot – but equally, a body corporate cannot impose a levy in respect to maintenance costs in respect to lot except in a strictly narrow set of circumstances). Importantly, owners have to appreciate the body corporate is not a charity, bank or financier – and has absolutely no obligation to grant payment plans, abstain from raising levies and/or otherwise provide financial assistance to owners.
At Nautilus Law Group, we work zealously for our bodies corporate to recover unpaid levies in a timely and cost effective manner. Sometimes, the most effective method of achieving the recovery is spending the time to educate owners. By no means is it the bodies corporate responsibility to have to “educate” its owners; however, transparency and education achieve results. When, transparency and education do not work, then the legal system must intervene.
If you have questions about body corporate levy recovery, please do not hesitate to contact our Team to discuss your matter on (07) 5574 3560 – or – by emailing our Team at Info@nautiluslaw.com.au. We look forward to speaking with you. Katrina Brown, Senior Lawyer.