Non-Profit Fact Sheets

What is a Body Corporate in Australia?

Published: August 14, 2023

Read Time: 9 minutes

Body corporate australia

A body corporate, or owner’s corporation, is one of several incorporated legal entities in Australia that use a group structure as a management model. In Australia, a general body corporate represents a group of independent owners who run the company as a corporation to develop, manage, and maintain jointly owned land.

Bodies corporate hold the same powers and manage their affairs in a similar way to other incorporated entities, but are regulated by the state in which they are located. As membership-based organisations, a body corporate is accountable to its members who are also shareholders and owners.

What is a body corporate?

While each Australian state and territory has its own legislation, in a general sense, a body corporate is a legal entity formed by a group of independent owners who combine their common assets, lands, or properties for the benefit of the group members or residents. According to the Queensland government website, the role of a body corporate is to “administer common property and body corporate assets for the benefit of all of the owners, and to undertake functions required under body corporate legislation” 1.

The main reasons for forming a body corporate are to: 1) establish a group ownership structure so that landowners can more easily purchase and manage multiple lots or units together, and 2) establish a legal identity as an organisation and reduce the liability of individual members.

A common body corporate structure is the community management scheme. It allows a person to own a piece of land or property as part of a larger complex while sharing common facilities with the other owners. This model is also called a strata scheme or body corporate strata group. Examples are residential unit blocks, townhouse complexes, high-rise condominium buildings, and business parks.

A body corporate is a committee-run organisation, making it more democratic than a company and offering stakeholders the opportunity to vote on important issues that affect their investments. The contributions each member makes to shared facilities allow the body corporate to improve the property and land, and make repairs when needed. This has the added benefit of making them more liveable and attractive and reducing the vacancy rate.

Roles and responsibilities

What does a body corporate do? Essentially, it can carry out duties on behalf of the group of owners, such as managing, maintaining, and controlling common assets.

nvolve deciding on procedures for payments to owners when revenue is generated, enforcing rules and by-laws, making purchases and repairs, or entering into legal contracts and agreements. Whether the body corporate is responsible for roof leaks and other repairs will depend on the strata plan, a document that describes which areas belong to whom.

As a general rule, the body corporate is responsible for maintaining the common area while individual owners are responsible for keeping their lot or unit in good condition. Independent owners are expected to follow the by-laws of the organisation and avoid interfering with the use or enjoyment of other owners.

Body Corporates in Australia
Photo credit: Natalya Markina

The body corporate committee is formed by member owners willing to run the organisation. Committee members make decisions and vote on important issues that affect the membership at large, therefore, they have several obligations. Their responsibilities include appointing a chairperson to facilitate the voting process, and a secretary who will send notices, prepare election ballots, and take minutes during meetings. They must also select a treasurer to prepare financial statements each month and oversee payments or budget issues.

Occasionally, organisations don’t form committees and the body corporate manager makes decisions instead. Body corporate managers are hired by the organisation through the committee. They are responsible for performing the administrative duties necessary to run the organisation. It is not a legal requirement to hire a manager, but having one is useful for assisting the committee in its work. If a manager fails to perform their duties according to the by-laws or comply with legislation, their employment can be terminated, per the body corporate committee’s decision.

Body corporate law in Australia

In Australia, the body corporate is regulated at the state level rather than federal, though state laws often have similarities.

In Queensland, a body corporate is primarily governed under the Land Title Act 1994 and the Body Corporate and Community Management Act 1997 (BCCM Act). The Land Title Act governs the registration of freehold land, giving landowners the advantage of leasing their properties to other individuals or corporations.

The majority of land in Australia is held under freehold tenure vs leasehold. The BCCM Act states that a body corporate manager must:

  • Act honestly, fairly and professionally
  • Act in the best interests of the body corporate
  • Not be fraudulent or misleading
  • Not influence the outcome of committee elections, and
  • Keep records required by the Act.

In Victoria, bodies corporate are regulated by the Owners Corporations Act 2006. In this case, the rules state that an owners corporation (body corporate) must meet several obligations:

  • manage and administer common property
  • repair and maintain common property, fixtures and services
  • take out and maintain insurance
  • raise owner fees to meet financial obligations
  • prepare financial statements and keep financial records
  • provide owners corporations certificates
  • keep an owners corporation register, and
  • establish a grievance procedure.

Most states also have a designated department to provide advice and assistance with land dealings and governance issues. For example, Land Use Victoria offers group owners a number of forms and guides on its website.

New South Wales has a Strata Hub, providing help with disputes, by-law development, and other topics. For more information on how each state and territory deals with bodies corporate, see the ‘resources’ section below.

What is the difference between a general body corporate vs prescribed bodies corporate (PBC)?

In Australia, a general body corporate structure is made up of a group of independent owners and is run using a corporation management company structure. In comparison, a prescribed bodies corporate (PBC) is a registered native title bodies corporate and its owners represent Aboriginal and Torres Strait islander (ATSI) traditional owners. PBCs are incorporated under the Corporations Aboriginal and Torres Strait islander Act 2006 (CATSI Act), while general body corporate entities are incorporated under state laws. This means that each must follow different rules and meet separate legal obligations. To learn more about prescribed bodies corporate entities, read Better Board’s fact sheet.

What is the difference between a company vs body corporate in Australia? Is a body corporate a company?

In Australia, there are three common types of body corporate: statutory corporations, companies, and incorporated associations. Statutory corporations are established through specific legislation and can be structured in different ways, including corporations sole, single member corporations, or multi-member corporations. An incorporated association is a non-profit organisation with a separate legal status from its members. Similarly, a company is a body corporate that operates as a separate legal entity and has the same rights as a natural person or incorporated association. As such, it must register through the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) and is regulated under the Corporations Act. Depending on their structure, companies can be recognised by the legal name they carry, such as proprietary limited (Pty Ltd), unlimited proprietary (Pty), limited (Ltd), or no liability (NL).

What are body corporate fees and what are they used for?

Body corporate owners may be asked to pay body corporate fees to help pay for the overall management of the property or land. For example, in a body corporate strata group the strata title is run using a strata management model, an area of property management that involves operating a jointly owned property with multiple units and common area or facilities. Examples of this structure are condos, apartment buildings, or townhouse complexes. Any money generated by body corporate fees is added to the administration fund to cover the cost of managing the organisation, or the reserve fund to cover maintenance, repairs, or shared utilities. Potential owners may wonder: is body corporate tax deductible? The answer is yes. The body corporate fee charged to individual owners can be claimed as a tax deduction.

What is the process for buying a body corporate property?

The process for building a body corporate property may be different depending on each state or territory. Normally, a person can buy a lot or unit from the body corporate by agreeing to invest in a community titles scheme. The body corporate is responsible for maintaining the common areas like parking lots, elevators, stairways, tennis courts, swimming pools, and roads. Each owner pays to maintain their unit. The boundaries of each unit or lot are established by a survey plan that determines who is responsible for what area, and by-laws (rules) cover issues like noise, pet ownership, or parking. Once the purchase is made, the new owner automatically becomes a member of the organisation and is considered a shareholder. This means they have voting rights and must meet certain legal obligations. Once an independent owner becomes part of the body corporate, they cannot opt out unless all owners agree to have the entity dissolved or a ruling is made by a court. In some Australian states, comprehensive body corporate services are available.

Is there a difference between a related bodies corporate vs bodies corporate?

Related bodies corporate is a term used in Australia’s Corporations Act to offer flexibility in the structuring of corporate groups. A related body corporate is an entity that is ‘related’ to a general body corporate. This can include a holding company, a subsidiary, or a subsidiary of the holding company. The company group structure represents the controlling corporation and its member entities or subsidiaries. The term controlling corporation is another name for a body corporate. The company group structure represents the controlling corporation and its member entities or subsidiaries.

Further Resources

Each state will have a body corporate commissioner responsible for overseeing bodies corporate and advising on issues related to community management. For example visit the Queensland Office of the Commissioner for Body Corporate and Community Management.

For information on how body corporate schemes work in each state or territory, click on the following links:

New South Wales Queensland Victoria Tasmania Northern Territory South Australia Western Australia Australian Capital Territory

For an example of a body corporate disclosure statement (seller disclosure statement) visit the Queensland government webpage.

  1. Queensland Government. (2023). Role of the body corporate↩︎



Better Boards connects the leaders of Australasian non-profit organisations to the knowledge and networks necessary to grow and develop their leadership skills and build a strong governance framework for their organisation.

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