New laws to help ease the financial burden on Queensland strata communities caused by the COVID-19 pandemic have been passed by State Parliament.
Archers the Strata Professionals Partner, Grant Mifsud, said the Justice and Other Legislation (COVID-19 Emergency Response) Amendment Bill provides measures to assist bodies corporate and owners facing financial hardship.
This legislation includes relaxation of administrative burden to assist Queensland strata committees make decisions to assist unit owners suffering financial stress caused by the public health emergency.
“We have had many cases of bodies corporate receiving levy relief requests from unit owners who are unable to keep up with property ownership costs because they have lost jobs or their tenants have stopped paying them rent.”
Mr Mifsud said among the measures in the legislation is a provision to temporarily allow body corporate committees to postpone the due date for levy contributions – in some cases up to one year.
“Bodies corporate will also be temporarily prevented from charging interest on outstanding levy contributions which is currently up to 30 per cent p.a., in place to encourage on-time payment,” he added.
According to him, this will provide owners who are suffering financial hardship as a result of COVID-19 with additional time to get back on their feet and pay their contributions.
Further, the legislation will allow bodies corporate to consider reducing sinking fund budget levies for non-urgent capital works such as refurbishments or painting if able to be postponed. This will in effect enable the contributions payable by owners to be temporarily reduced and increase again by the same amount the following year to catch up.
“Other measures temporarily relax requirements for bodies corporate to initiate legal proceedings to recover levy debts that have been outstanding for two years,” Mr Mifsud concluded.
“This will enable bodies corporate to defer commencing debt recovery action against lot owners experiencing financial distress due to COVID-19.”
These financial relief measures once in place, are set to expire on 31 December 2020.