What is an owners corporation?

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Definition of an owners corporation

An owners corporation (formerly body corporate) manages the common property of a residential, commercial, retail, industrial or mixed-use property development.

You are likely to be a member of an owners corporation if you own a flat, apartment or unit. Your ‘body corporate’ became an owners corporation on 31 December 2007, when the Owners Corporations Act 2006 came into force. This law sets out the duties and powers of owners corporations.

Plan of subdivision

An owners corporation is automatically created when a plan of subdivision containing common property is registered at Land Use Victoria. Land Use Victoria registers and records owners corporation applications received either with a plan of subdivision, or lodged following registration of the plan of subdivision.

Common property

Common property is whatever it is stated to be on the plan of subdivision and may include gardens, passages, walls, stairwells, pathways, driveways, lifts, foyers and fences. The owners corporation is responsible for the common property - the Owners Corporations Act 2006 states that the owners corporation must, among other things, manage, administer, repair and maintain the common property.

The plan of subdivision shows the parcels of land that can be sold separately. These are called ‘lots’. Lot owners are the members of the owners corporation for the subdivision.

More than one owners corporation can be created in a subdivision of land or buildings.

Land Use Victoria

Land Use Victoria can provide advice on the following owners corporation matters:

  • information required in pre-registration of plan and owners corporation applications
  • assist in interpreting title boundaries, including common property (to clarify your title boundary, check with the certifying licensed surveyor)
  • amending lot boundaries affected by an owners corporation
  • creating owners corporation rules
  • altering lot entitlement and liability.

For more information on subdivisions, visit the Plans of subdivision and consolidation page on the Land Use Victoria website.

For assistance with land related dealing lodgements, visit the Forms, guides and fees page on the Land Use Victoria website.

To track subdivision plans and owners corporation dealings from lodgement to registration at Land Use Victoria, visit the LANDATA website.

Copies of titles affected by an owners corporation can be purchased from the LANDATA website.

Do I have to be part of the owners corporation?

If you own property affected by an owners corporation then you become a member of that owners corporation automatically. As a member, you have legal and financial responsibilities to the owners corporation.

Responsibilities of an owners corporation

An owners corporation must:

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

It must also:

  • carry out any functions and duties under the Owners Corporations Act 2006, the Owners Corporations Regulations 2018, the owners corporation rules and any other law or regulation
  • ensure compliance with the Act, the Regulations and the rules.

For more information on rules, view our Rules and resolving disputes page.

Special rules for certain types of owners corporations

Special rules apply to certain types of owners corporations:

Four levels of an owners corporation

The owners corporation operates at four levels:

  1. The owners corporation, consisting of all the lot owners.
  2. The committee, consisting of elected lot owners or lot owners’ proxies.
  3. A delegate of the owners corporation. For example: the chairperson, the secretary, a committee member, a lot owner, or an employee of the owners corporation.
  4. A delegate of the committee. The committee may delegate to a lot owner, a manager or sub delegate to a member of the committee.

The owners corporation (all the lot owners):

  • keeps control of all decision-making
  • can delegate powers, but only for matters that do not require a unanimous or special resolution or that are required to be dealt with
  • can overturn an earlier decision of the owners corporation. Only the owners corporation can do this
  • can appoint sub-committees to advise the owners corporation. Sub-committees cannot make decisions.

The committee:

  • can make decisions on all matters delegated to it by the owners corporation except on matters that the owners corporation has determined must be decided at a general meeting.

A delegate:

  • can make decisions within the limits set by the owners corporation
  • cannot overturn a decision of the owners corporation or the committee.

Role of chairperson and secretary

An owners corporation committee must elect a chairperson. This person also becomes the owners corporation chairperson.

Your committee may not be legal if it fails to elect a chairperson, whose role is to run meetings in a way that encourages decisions. For more information about the chairperson’s role, view our Chairperson - owners corporations page.

An owners corporation must also have a secretary, who is responsible for tasks including managing correspondence and organising meetings. For more information about the secretary’s role, view our Secretary - owners corporation page.

All owners corporations, committees and delegates are required to:

  • act honestly and in good faith
  • exercise due care and diligence in carrying out their functions, powers and activities
  • not make improper use of their position to gain, directly or indirectly, an advantage for themselves or for any other person.

Decision-making in owners corporations

Your owners corporation makes a decision or resolution when its members vote at a meeting or by ballot.

Votes are based on lots or lot entitlements, not by the number of individuals living in or owning a lot. This means:

  • a person who owns more than one lot has more than one vote
  • if two people own one lot, they only have one vote between them.

Decisions can be made by ordinary, special or unanimous resolutions, each requiring different percentages of the total votes.

For more information about the decision-making process for an owners corporation, view our Owners corporation meetings page.

Buying a property in an owners corporation

Before buying property affected by an owners corporation, you should find out more about the owners corporation. For more information, view our Buying an apartment or unit checklist.