Understanding Owners Corporations

Everything you need to know about an Owners Corporation

What is an Owners Corporation?

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

Owners of flats, apartments or units are usually members of an owners corporation, previously known as a ‘body corporate’. All bodies corporate became owners corporations on 31 December 2007, when the Owners Corporations Act 2006 came into force. This law sets out the duties and powers of owners corporations.

An owners corporation is automatically created when a plan of subdivision containing common property is registered with Land Victoria. Examples of common property may include gardens, passages, walls, pathways, driveways, lifts, foyers and fences.

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

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

A person who owns property under an owners corporation automatically becomes a member of that owners corporation. As a member, that person has legal and financial responsibilities to the owners corporation.

Lot owners are not exempt from any owners corporation fees if they do not use the facilities.

Master planned estates

Some new land estates are becoming owners corporations. This is especially common where estates include private swimming pools, tennis courts, golf courses or gymnasiums. An owners corporation may also be formed to maintain parks and wetlands contained within the estate.

Retirement villages

Many retirement villages have owners corporations. In a strata title village, the unit owners are automatically members of the owners corporation. They have the right to attend owners corporation meetings and stand for election to the owners corporation committee.

For more information, visit the Owners Corporations section of the Consumer Affairs Victoria website Learn More >>>

What should I do before buying a property managed by an owners corporation?

Get a copy of the owners corporation certificate and inspect the owners corporation register. These documents contain important information about fees, allocation of lot liability and lot entitlement, and legal liabilities.

The owners corporation certificate is part of the vendor’s statement, also called a ‘section 32’, after section 32 of the Sale of Land Act 1962. The section 32 contains information which the seller must provide to the buyer advising of restrictions such as covenants and easements, outgoings such as rates and any other notices such as compulsory acquisition.

The lot owner selling the property must ensure the certificate is included in the section 32. A buyer can also purchase the certificate from the owners corporation.

For more information, visit the Owners Corporations section of the Consumer Affairs Victoria website Learn More >>>

Common Strata Terms

Plan of subdivision

A plan of subdivision depicts the break-up of a piece of land, showing parcels of land called ‘lots’, that can be sold separately. The plan of subdivision is registered with Land Victoria and an owners corporation is automatically created if the plan includes common property.

The plan of subdivision defines and governs the ownership of land, buildings and airspace. It sets out private lots, common property and each lot owner’s voting entitlements and financial contributions.

Land Victoria registers and allocates numbers to the plan of subdivision and any owners corporations created by that plan.


A lot is a part of land, buildings and airspace on a plan of subdivision that can be separately owned and sold. Technically, lots are those parts of land, buildings or airspace that are not common property, road or a reserve, and include accessory lots such as car spaces, storage bays and storerooms.

Lot entitlements and lot liabilities

These are set out in the plan of subdivision.

  • Lot entitlement refers to a lot owner’s share of ownership of the common property and determines voting rights.
  • Lot liability represents the share of owners corporation expenses that each lot owner is required to pay.

These entitlements and liabilities are determined by the developer at the time of subdivision.

Common property

This includes any parts of the land, buildings and airspace that are not lots on the plan of subdivision. It may include gardens, passages, walls, pathways, driveways, stairs, lifts, foyers and fences. The common property is collectively owned by the lot owners as ‘tenants-in-common’. Floor coverings and fixtures within a lot are usually the property of the lot owner.

Multiple owners corporations

These are most common in large, multistorey buildings, commercial properties, or developments that combine residential and non-residential lots.

Properties with more than one owners corporation will usually have:

  • an unlimited owners corporation, which owns the common property, and
  • one or more limited owners corporations, which will apply to only some lots.

Multiple owners corporations give groups of lot owners access to and responsibility for certain parts of the property.

For example: A person buys a ground floor unit in a multistorey building. The title includes off-street parking. As a lot owner, this person will be a member of the owners corporation. They may also be a member of the owners corporation responsible for the parking spaces, but not a member of the owners corporation responsible for the lifts.

Where a property has multiple owners corporations, it is important for lot owners to be aware that these owners corporations affect their lot.

Common seal

An owners corporation must have a common seal, available from a stationery shop, which must contain the owners corporation’s name and plan of subdivision number. This represents the signature of the owners corporation.

The owners corporation certificate must be sealed using the common seal.

It must be used on all documents created by a resolution passed by the owners corporation; for example, contracts for services, making additional rules or the appointment of a manager. The use of the common seal must be witnessed by two lot owners or when affixed to an owners corporation’s certificate a manager or chairperson. Misuse of the common seal can have serious financial and legal consequences.

For more information, visit the Owners Corporations section of the Consumer Affairs Victoria website Learn More >>>

Activating an Owners Corporation

Owners corporation number

An owners corporation number is the same as the number on the plan of subdivision, which is available from Land Victoria. See Useful Contacts, later in this document, for details.

Initial owner’s role in activating an owners corporation

The initial owner should call the owners corporation’s first meeting within six months of registering the plan of subdivision at Land Victoria.

The initial owner is usually the owners corporation’s sole member at this stage.

At this meeting, the initial owner or applicant for registration must give the owners corporation:

  • the owners corporation register
  • a copy of the plan of subdivision and planning documents
  • copies of building contracts and building plans
  • the maintenance plan (for prescribed owners corporations or if necessary)
  • a copy of the Owners Corporations Act 2006, Owners Corporations Regulations 2007, Subdivision Act 1988 and Subdivision (Procedure) Regulations 2000
  • contracts, leases and licences binding or benefiting the owners corporation
  • insurance policies relating to the owners corporation
  • names of companies, tradespeople or suppliers who have provided a warranty or guarantee
  • books to enable the owners corporation to keep minutes, accounts and other records
  • any accounts or records made on behalf of the owners corporation
  • the common seal
  • rules registered with Land Victoria

First annual general meeting

To activate an owners corporation, an annual general meeting must be held.

Lot owners who have at least 25 per cent of the total lot entitlements can use an owners corporation petition to convene the first annual general meeting:

  • if the initial owner did not, or
  • to reactivate an existing owners corporation.

Alternatively, lot owners may apply to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) for an order compelling the owners corporation to hold an annual general meeting.

To hold this first annual general meeting, a notice must be sent out at least 14 days before the scheduled date to all members, stating:

  • the date, time and place of meeting
  • the text of any special resolution or unanimous resolution
  • the financial statements setting out income, expenditure, assets and liabilities
  • the proposed budget
  • a statement that lot owners can appoint a proxy
  • an agenda with the following business:
    • election of a committee (mandatory if there are 13 or more lots)
    • election of chairperson and secretary
    • appointment of registered manager
    • instruments of delegation for the manager, committee, chairperson and secretary if required
    • registration of the owners corporation for taxation purposes. Your owners corporation may need to have a Tax File Number and an Australian Business Number (ABN)
    • notification to Land Victoria of changes to the owners corporation contact details
    • provision and details of insurance
    • additional insurance; for example, to protect office bearers
    • setting up a bank account
    • method of keeping books and records
    • letterbox and sign, if not already provided
    • building audit for the purposes of the Building Regulations 2006, including cooling tower registration if required
    • risk assessment for occupational health and safety purposes
    • budget for the next 12 months. The budget is usually for a financial year
    • consideration of financial statements
    • the details of fees
    • rules, including the owners corporation’s process for resolving disputes
    • consideration of reports. But, you may not have any to consider at the first annual general meeting.

The notice must be handed or sent to lot owners. It can also be sent by facsimile, email or other electronic means.

If the owners corporation is being reactivated, it is recommended that the original documents are read. These may be available from the initial owner, existing lot owners or Land Victoria.

After the first annual general meeting

After activating an owners corporation by holding the annual general meeting, there may be a need to open a bank account or take out insurance in its name. To do this, evidence may have to be provided that the owners corporation is a legal entity.

This includes:

  • a statement that the owners corporation is incorporated on the registration of the plan under section 28 of the Subdivision Act 1988
  • a copy of the plan of subdivision
  • minutes of meeting recording the decision to open an account or take out insurance.

The Operation of Owners Corporations

Classes of owners corporations

Depending on their size, owners corporations have different levels of responsibilities and duties.

Two-lot subdivisions are exempt from many of the legal requirements placed on larger owners corporations, such as:

  • requirements for notices of fees
  • procedures for meetings and decision-making
  • keeping records and an owners corporation register
  • having insurance for the owners corporation.

Prescribed owners corporations, which have more than 100 lots or collect more than $200,000 in annual fees in a financial year, have additional obligations such as establishing a maintenance plan, having their financial statements audited every year and every five years, obtaining a valuation of all buildings it is required to insure.

Levels of owners corporations

An 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 their proxies.
    3.  A delegate of the owners corporation, for example, a manager, chairperson, secretary, lot owner or employee.
    4.  A delegate of the committee. The committee may delegate to a lot owner, a manager or subdelegate to a member of the committee.

All owners corporations, committees and delegates must act honestly and in good faith. They must exercise due care and diligence in carrying out their functions, powers and activities.

Obligations of owners corporations

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 corporation certificates when requested
  • keep an owners corporation register
  • establish a grievance procedure
  • carry out any functions and duties under the Owners Corporations Act 2006, the Owners Corporations Regulations 2007, the owners corporation rules and any other law or regulation
  • ensure compliance with Owners Corporations Act 2006, the Owners Corporations Regulations and rules.

For more information, visit the Owners Corporations section of the Consumer Affairs Victoria website Learn More >>>

You Can Expect the Unexpected

At Iconic we’re not your average Owners Corporation.

Our smart approach and service performance excellence is what makes us different from others in the industry. We understand that owners value their property and want the best possible service from their Owners Corporation Manager. At Iconic Strata Management, it’s our track record for consistently delivering the highest levels of service to Owners Corporations is evident through our positive client testimonials.

We regularly hear about the frustration and stress that occurs when Owners Corporations are managed poorly – including a lack of communication, poor service, delays in processing work orders and insurance claims, unfinished projects, and long drawn out meetings that result in no positive outcomes. It’s little wonder committee members, who dutifully pay their owners corporation fees, become disillusioned with their provider and look at terminating their Owners Corporation Manager.

At Iconic Strata, we strive to be different.

Our philosophy is to deliver the unexpected for our valued clients and to make their strata living experience relaxed and stress-free.

Need a BETTER Owners Corporation Manager?
Learn How >>>


Got an Owners Corporation Question?

Connect with Brigitte Cheston.

With 26+ years of experience in the real estate industry and 14+ years of experience in Strata Management, Brigitte is passionate about delivering excellent customer service and has the knowledge and expertise to manage the most complex strata.

As a fully licensed real estate agent, Brigitte’s high standard of regulatory and legislative knowledge ensures efficient Owners Corporation management, with minimum liability exposure to the Owners Corporation.

If you have a question, contact Brigitte on 03 9982-1300

Brigitte Cheston Iconic Strata Managment

Licences & Accreditation

owners corporation managers victoria

Licensed Owners Corporation Manager 000759

We would be delighted to discuss with you how Iconic Strata Management can make a difference for your Owners Corporation.

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