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Three-step process for complaints
The Owners Corporations Act 2006 sets out a process to help owners corporations (formerly body corporates) deal with grievances.
This process has three steps:
- internal dispute resolution
- conciliation through Consumer Affairs Victoria
- applications to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT).
Communication is often the best way to prevent disputes and your owners corporation should encourage neighbours to talk about their concerns to resolve disputes.
An owners corporation must follow its internal dispute resolution process before making an application to VCAT.
Complaints to the owners corporation may relate to an alleged breach of the:
- Owners Corporation Act 2006
- Owners Corporation Regulations 2007
- owner's corporation's rules.
Complaints by a lot owner, an occupier or a manager must be made in writing to the owners corporation using the approved Owners corporation complaint (Word, 59KB).
If an owners corporation decides to take no action, it must provide the complainant with written reasons.
If an owners corporation decides to take action, it must:
- give notice to the person who is alleged to have committed the breach
- also give a copy of the notice to the lot owner if the the lot owner is not the subject of the complaint.
The notice must be in writing in the approved Notice to rectify breach - owners corporations (Word, 67KB). The breach must be rectified within 28 days of the notice being served.
Communicating with your owners corporation
Your owners corporation must make a policy about day-to-day communication between lot owners and the owners corporation.
The policy should be part of the rules and include:
- how and when to contact the chairperson, secretary or the manager
- what to do if there is an emergency.
This policy should be given to all new lot owners and tenants and be displayed on a notice board.
All owners corporations must keep a letterbox or a sign displaying its current contact details.
View our sample policy Communicating with your owners corporation (Word, 54KB).
Internal dispute resolution
Your owners corporation must have procedures to help its members and people living in the property deal with grievances without resorting to legal action.
It should set out:
- who to contact if there is an issue or concern
- rules detailing the grievance procedure
- directions about where to get information
- how to record the issue or the breach of rules
- how to notify your owners corporation committee or manager of a problem
- how to raise an issue at an owners corporation or committee meeting
- formal complaint procedures
- how to nominate a third party to help a dispute.
Your owners corporation must follow its internal procedure before asking us to conciliate or applying to VCAT.
Rules for grievance procedures
Your owners corporation can either:
If your owners corporation makes its own rules for grievances then those rules must be recorded at Land Victoria to be enforceable. The proposed grievance procedure rules must not conflict with the Act, regulations, or natural justice. For example:
Your owners corporation may make a rule that states: If you wish to raise an issue, you can make a written request for a meeting of the owners corporation or its committee.
This meeting would give people affected an opportunity to comment and the owners corporation or its committee may be able to make a resolution on the matter.
For more information about making rules, view our How to make owners corporation rules page.
The owners corporation will ask for a written record of facts when it receives a formal complaint. Use the Issue log sheet - owners corporations (Word, 60KB).
A written record is also required if the complaint goes to us or VCAT.
Any complaints and any action taken must be reported to the owners corporation’s annual general meeting. Use the:
The owners corporation must keep records of the complaint for seven years.
Making a formal complaint
A formal complaint about a lot owner, an occupier or an owners corporation manager allegedly breaching the Owners Corporations Act 2006, Owners Corporations Regulations 2007 or the rules, must be in writing to the owners corporation in an approved Owners corporation complaint (Word, 59KB).
If the owners corporation decides to take no action, it must give reasons in writing to the person who made the complaint.
If the owners corporation does take action, it must:
- give notice to the person subject to the complaint
- also give a copy of the notice to the lot owner, if the lot owner is not the subject of the complaint.
The notice must be in writing in the approved Notice to rectify breach - owners corporations (Word, 67KB), and the breach must be rectified within 28 days of the date of the notice.
If the problem is not resolved
If the problem is not resolved within 28 days, the owners corporation can extend the deadline for action.
The owners corporation can also issue a final notice, in writing in the approved Final notice to rectify breach - owners corporations (Word, 59KB).
The final notice should state that:
- the individual has 28 days from the date of the notice to comply
- if the breach is not rectified within 28 days, the owners corporation may take the matter to the VCAT.
Your owners corporation must first try to resolve the matter through an internal grievance procedure before applying to VCAT.
Complaints to Consumer Affairs Victoria
You do not have to use the owners corporation grievance procedure if you are a lot owner, occupier or manager. You can make your complaint to us.
We may suggest that you do use the internal dispute resolution and may decline to consider your matter if you have not used the internal resolution process.
We will determine if your complaint can be conciliated. Conciliation involves negotiation between the parties to reach an agreed resolution and avoid proceedings in VCAT.
We can only conciliate a matter if all parties agree to the conciliation.
For more information, view our Resolve a dispute page.
Applying to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT)
The owners corporation must follow its internal grievance procedure before making an application to VCAT.
The tribunal can take a complaint from:
- a manager or former manager
- a lot owner or former lot owner
- the owners corporation
- the occupier or former occupier of a lot
- a mortgagee of a lot
- an insurer under a policy taken out by the owners corporation
- the Director of Consumer Affairs Victoria.
What can VCAT do?
The tribunal can impose penalties for breaches of rules and make a wide range of other orders.
- ordering someone to do something
- imposing a penalty for breaches of rules
- requiring the payment of money owed, as damages or restitution
- varying or ordering a term of a contract as void
- appointing or removing a manager
- appointing or removing a chairperson or secretary
- appointing an administrator.