Lots of Leaks?


You come home to find water gushing out of your lounge room light fitting, the light itself dangling precariously from the ceiling and the carpet providing a shudder-worthy ‘sloosh-sloosh-sloosh’ as you step through it. Sound familiar?

A burst pipe, damaged waterproofing membrane, incorrectly sealed windows or roofs: water ingress into properties is becoming a more prevalent issue today, especially as we see a trend toward higher density living and commercial arrangements across the country.

Whether you have water cascading through your lounge room light fitting, a slow consistent drip onto the kitchen tiles that’s keeping you up at night, or a mystery dampness in the back of your closet that seems to come and go as it pleases, here are some handy hints on how to deal with water ingress in your property.

Mitigating Damage

First and foremost, in any situation that sees unwelcome water in your unit, apply common sense and do whatever you can to mitigate damage to your – and others’ – property. Whether it’s putting buckets under drips, removing your clothes from the damp closet, or mopping up saturated carpets. Anything you can do to help reduce the amount of water that is impacting anyone’s property, the less work – and cost – it will be to rectify the issue.

Who Should I Call?

Always try to arrange a plumber through your building manager, owners corporation manager, or property manager but, in the case of an emergency if you are unable to reach the person you ‘need’ to speak to, don’t hesitate to take the necessary steps to best protect the property. Remember, mitigation is the key.

If, however, it is not an emergency try to wait until you can speak to the relevant person, as there may be a preferred plumber who is familiar with the plumbing, or it may still be a builder’s warranty issue, in which case the builder needs to attend first.

Who’s Responsible?

There are a number of factors when it comes to determining responsibility for a leak and it can differ from building to building. Generally however, there are a few guidelines that apply in Victoria:

  • If the building is 7 years old or less and the water is coming from an unsealed roof, window, or improperly fitted membrane, a builder’s warranty will normally apply and the builder is responsible to rectify.
  • If the leak has come from another unit, such as an overflowing sink, a burst hot water system, or improperly fitted pipe/connection, the owner of the unit from where the leak originated, is responsible, under the provisions of the Water Act.
  • Similar to the example above, if the leak has come from a common property pipe or service that is owned by the owners corporation, the responsibility for repair will lie with the owners corporation.
  • If the leak has come from your own apartment, including in some cases pipes that may be inside walls but only provide service to your unit, you as the lot owner will be responsible for any damage to both your and others’ property. Check with your insurer to ensure you are covered in these circumstances, especially for others’ property damage as the costs can mount up very quickly.

Water leaks can be tricky things and sometimes can take a long time to locate and rectify, especially in the case of a slow leak. Often the water ‘tracks’ its way from somewhere quite unrelated or unconnected to where the leak is appearing. If you find yourself involved in one of these water leak situations, just remember sometimes the answer is not always quite as simple as it may appear.

Regardless of whether you come home to a waterfall in your lounge room, or are sitting up at 2am to read this article because of that persistent drip that just won’t let you sleep, here are my 5 keys for dealing with a water leak in your unit:

  • Mitigation
  • Communication
  • Insurance
  • Patience
  • …and a mop.


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