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Who is responsible for repairs?

Wednesday, 14th April 2010

Kristy and Matt want to know about repairs and maintenance and who is responsible

Responsibility for repairs is straightforward - the Owners Corporation must repair common property, owners must repair anything within their lot.  However - and this can be the difficult part - it is not always clear what is common property or what is the individual lot.

The basic rule is that everything inside the airspace of the unit, including all internal walls, fixtures, carpet and paint on the walls is usually the 'lot' and therefore the responsibility of the lot owner.

Everything outside the airspace including walls, windows, doors, and tiles fixed to the floor and boundary walls is usually common property and therefore the responsibility of the Owners Corporation.

For clarification check your strata plan or contact the Department of Lands.

As a general guide, the following applies.

Ceiling                            Owners Corporation must repair anything in the ceiling.

Walls                              Owners Corporation must repair anything in the boundary walls.  The owner must repair walls within the lot.

Carpets                          The owner must repair and maintain carpets in the lot.  The Owners Corporation repairs and maintains common property carpets, such as carpets and hallways.

Tiles
                                Original tiles on boundary walls and floor are Owners Corporation responsibility.  Tiles on internal walls are the owner's.

Light fittings                  If it is recessed in the ceiling, it is the Owners Corporation responsibility.  If it hangs into the lot, it is the owner's responsibility.

Garage roller door       Repairs to the boundary roller doors are Owners Corporation responsibility.

Balcony                           Balconies are generally the responsibility of the Owners Corporation.


How do you get repairs done?

Contact the managing agent or secretary of the Owners Corporation and let them know the details of the problem.  They may organise for minor repairs to be fixed without the need for a meeting.  For larger, more expensive problems they should convene a meeting so that the Owners Corporation can decide on what action to take.

If no action is being taken you can put a motion requesting repairs to the next meeting.  You may also lodge an application for mediation with Fair Trading to move things along.

The following are some frequently asked questions.  All the answers are general starting points based on the typical common property questions.  Don't assume they automatically apply to your scheme.

Where does the money for repairs and maintenance of common property come from?

Levies must be raised to do repairs.  A motion is put to a general meeting to raise levies to cover the cost of work.  The amount will be paid by the owners based on their unit entitlement.

What if the damage was accidental rather than caused by negligence?  Is there a difference in who has responsibility to fix it?

The Owners Corporation must repair common property and an owner must repair their lot - it does not make a difference how the damage occurred (whether accidental or negligence).  If someone else damages your property, then like any damages claim, you may take legal action to recover the cost of repairs from that person.

I have filled out a maintenance form to get a repair done which is taking time.  What should I do?

Speak to the Secretary or the Strata Managing Agent to find out how the matter is progressing.  If the repairs are being delayed you can lodge an application for mediation with Fair Trading to try to settle the matter.

Some of my possessions were in the garage and they have been damaged.  Who is responsible?

The owner or occupier is responsible for things inside their lot.  They may be able to claim on their contents insurance policy.

Common repairs

There is a burst pipe in a bathroom - If it is the boundary wall, the Owners Corporation is responsible.  If it is in an internal wall it is the Lot Owners, unless the pipe services more than your lot, in which case it is Owners Corporation responsibility.

The water from the shower is not draining away - Plumbing under the floor is the responsibility of the Owners Corporation.

The shower head is not working properly - It is the Lot Owners responsibility.

The kitchen sink was broken and has caused water damage in both my unit and my neighbour's unit - Problems with everything in the airspace of a bathroom or kitchen including baths, toilets, sinks and dishwashers are the owners responsibility.  However the Owners Corporation's building insurance may cover some of these fixtures for damage.

There is damp and mould in my unit - The Owners Corporation is responsible for water penetration problems coming in through external walls or the floor.  The owner is responsible for the mould on their walls.

Electricity inside my unit has been cut off or not working - The supply of electricity is the Owners Corporation responsibility.  However any cabling within the unit's internal walls that only services the individual lot, is the owners responsibility.

Water leaks onto my balcony from the unit above every time they water their plants - If water is running off common property, the Owners Corporation is responsible.  If it is caused by over-watering by another owner or resident, that person is responsible.

Our balcony door is damaged and won't close properly - This depends on when the scheme was registered.   In older schemes (registered before 1 July 1974), the owner is responsible.  In newer schemes (registered after that date), the Owners Corporation is responsible.

All information supplied by the Office of Fair Trading - www.fairtrading.com.au






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