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TEYS Training Note

Tuesday, 16th August 2011

39% of all water usage in buildings is by lot owners taking showers

In a strata community, where water is centrally metered and paid by the owners corporation, water usage is a critical issue in keeping levies down.

There are obvious things you can do to save water on the common property, including water tanks to catch water off the roof for watering common property gardens and lawns and fitting water efficient taps to common property outlets.  Even just fixing a dripping tap will make a difference to your bill and the environment.  A committee without too much fuss can make all these decisions.

The problem comes when you try to impose water efficiency standards within lots.  Recent studies show 39% of all water used and metered for payment by the owners corporation is used by lot owners in taking showers.  By-laws for short showers are not likely to be popular or upheld!  You might however consider a by-law to compel the installation of water efficient taps and showerheads.  Such a by-law hasn't been tested in the courts yet but as the owners corporation is paying for the water, there is a case that he compulsory installation of water efficient shower heads and taps has a sufficient nexus with the common property and shared facilities as to enliven the by-law making power.

As to drains, each lot owner or occupant owes the others a duty not to do anything that might cause a blockage.  Conduct inconsistent with this duty will be a breach of the by-laws not to damage common property and not to do anything that causes an interference with the use and enjoyment of common property by others.  However, good luck trying to find conclusive evidence of this and enforcing the by-laws - the best that you can do is run a good information campaign about what sort of things cause problems and how this results in wasteful spending of common funds.

Swimming pools on common property result in a particular responsibility to users and neighbours to ensure they are adequately kept and fenced to guard against dangers for local children.  Each state and territory has its own laws about swimming pool safety.  Famously, the owners of a motel were held liable for a breach of safety legislation when a 13-year-old boy was electrocuted while trespassing and using the pool at night with his mate.  He was a known offender and stepped on an exposed pool filter wire when retrieving a ball he and his mater were throwing in the pool.

Managing water in the urban context is not without its problems and care needs to be taken to ensure it is used wisely and safely.

For more information visit TEYS Laywers at www.teyslawyers.com.au

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Comment from alicia on Tuesday, 05th January 2016

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