A group of unit owners who are subject to a Management Rights contract can be rather like a doting and docile husband who is one partner in a bad marriage.

This hapless husband is dealing with a ‘bad patch’ in his marriage.  His wife does not clean the house, buy the groceries, look after the maintenance or meet basic obligations under the marriage contract.  Most sensible men would simply ask for a divorce, and when he discovers that his duplicitous, thieving wife has taken the grocery money and secreted a few hundred dollars away every week for the past few years, that is the last straw!  He decides to ask for a divorce.

But wait, under the BCCM Act, first he must ask his wife to change her ways.  He must issue her with a remedial action notice, specifying how, exactly she is breaking her contract, or specify that she has been engaging in misconduct by stealing the grocery money, and give her 14 days to come right.  If she does not mend her ways within 14 days or more, then he must gather every member of his family, her family or any members of the community who were witness to the marriage [and thus have a passing interest in the “Marriage Rights” contract].  He must get them all into a room and decide by ballot whether to terminate the marriage.

Quite often, the wife does not want the marriage to end.  She is on a good wicket; she does not have to comply with the marriage contract; she does not have to clean, dust, sweep, wash or shop.   All she needs do is exist.  Under threat of divorce, the wife now lobbies her family members to keep her "Marriage Rights" contract intact.  She may claim financial hardship, or unfairness.   She may make up lies about the husband [and any family member who agrees with him].  She often stays in the marriage by publicly denigrating her husband’s supporters, by promising to be better behaved and by threatening family members who don’t support her with swift (and sure) retribution.  In such a way, the wife prepares for the Family General Meeting at which the future of the “Marriage Rights” contract is to be decided.

The date arrives!  Now is the time for the family to vote: terminate this marriage or not?  It is a close run thing, and family members who support the wife line up on one side of the room, with family members who don’t wish to see the husband treated in this way quietly handing their secret ballots to the nice people who are there to count the votes.

Everyone mills around, waiting for the vote of the family.   The husband narrowly wins the vote!   The divorce from the bad wife is finally allowed!  The BCCM Act has been complied with!  He now is in a position to move on; he has the right to exit this bad marriage!  His side of the family smile.   Her supporters frown and deliver foreboding glares to everyone who is smiling.  The mood of the room darkens.

Oh, but wait.  Sadly, he did not know about Section 126 of the BCCM Act.  The bank holds a mortgage over the home, and when the bank finds out that the family has voted in favour of the divorce, the bank can step in and appoint a Receptor, and keep the marriage contract on foot.  You see, his wife borrowed a heap of money to buy her wedding dress and throw the marriage party and used the family home as collateral.  The Bank will step in to keep the marriage intact, and to choose another wife for this poor, downtrodden man.

Often, the bad wife will choose the next wife for her husband, and demand that in order to give him a new (and better looking) wife, he build an extension to the home, so that more money may be borrowed to finance an even bigger wedding.   It does not matter that the new wife can conveniently ignore her responsibilities under the marriage contract.  She knows that this marriage cannot be ended easily.  It does not matter that he can never get out of his marriage whilst ever the wife borrows money for the marriage ceremony and the right to be the wife.   In fact, she may even choose a man to be the next wife (not that there is anything wrong with that), but such a new ‘wife’ may not be suited to meet even the most basic obligations of the marriage contract.  The husband cannot unreasonably withhold consent, and consent to the new wife must be given before he can gather the whole family together again to vote on whether the new ‘wife’ is suitable.  Of course, the trouble caused by one bad wife is enough for any family to simply vote for whatever the bad, noisy and troublesome wife wants, just so she will go away.  After all, she can stir up so much trouble.   She goes to the family again – this time to vote to extend the family home so that she can leave the marriage, and the new, better wife be appointed, with a longer marriage contract and security for her.  Surprisingly, she wins the vote of the family, who, previously divided are now united: say goodbye to the old, troublesome wife and cross your fingers.

Of course, the man may get lucky and get a great new wife.  But when she decides to build an extension to the family home, he better start thinking about his real options.  Perhaps if his family said NO to the extension, the new wife in the wings would not be interested in him.  Perhaps if his family said NO to the extension, the marriage, whilst not perfect, would eventually come to an end, and he could eventually pay off the big home, and choose a partner on a fairer basis: one that does not require an expensive ceremony, and one that could go on forever if they both meet their obligations under the contract.

Ah, bliss.

Tags: bccm act, body corporate, brisbane central, community, contract, management rights, ruth bonnett, section 126, the queensland party, unit owners

Views: 139

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