Welcome to part seven of a ten part series discussing the most commonly misunderstood issues related to strata living.
7. How to get repairs underway in your owners corporation (the following information refers to NSW legislation).
It can be difficult when trying to determine who’s responsible for strata repairs as it’s not always clear where common property ends and an individual lot begins.
First and foremost it’s important to contact the Strata Manager or the committee 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 which course of action to take.
If there is no action 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 with general answers – it’s important to remember that ALL situations can vary greatly so it’s best to ask your Strata manager for the relevant advice to your scheme.
Where does the money for repairs and maintenance of common property come from?
Levies must be raised to perform repairs. A motion is put to a general meeting to raise levies to cover the cost of work and 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 committee or the Strata Manager 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 however they may be able to claim on their contents insurance policy.
What if 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.
What if the water from the shower is not draining away?
Plumbing under the floor is the responsibility of the Owners Corporation.
What if the shower head is not working properly?
It is the Lot Owners responsibility.
What if the kitchen sink broke and 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 Lot owner’s responsibility. However the Owners Corporation’s building insurance may cover some of these fixtures for damage.
What if there is mould in my unit?
The Owners Corporation is responsible for water penetration problems coming in through external walls or the floor and the owner is responsible for the mould on their walls.
What if the electricity inside my unit has been cut off?
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 Lot Owner’s responsibility.
What if 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 however if it is caused by over-watering by another owner or resident, that person is responsible.
What if my 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 and in newer schemes (registered after that date), the Owners Corporation is responsible.
Do you have any other questions that haven’t been answered here? Comment below and an SSKB Community Manager will respond to your concerns.