Body Corporate Repairs and Maintenance

body corporate repairs and maintenance

One of the coolest things about body corporates is their ability to stay neat and tidy without you having to personally  clean and tidy.

Of course there’s no such thing as a magical self-caring property so someone is obviously taking care of the place.

Who is responsible for body corporate repairs and maintenance? More importantly is it you?

This article sets out who is responsible, the processes employed and where they go wrong. It also notes what your responsibilities are as a lot owner in a body corporate and what you can do if you don’t agree with what’s happening.

The scope of body corporate repairs and maintenance

A body corporate is simply a mechanism for holding and managing common property by and for the lot owners.

That makes the rules for repairs and maintenance nice and simple. The lot owners care for their own lots and the body corporate cares for the common property.

That’s pretty much where we leave simple behind though because the next question, “what is lot and what is common property?,” is one of the most hotly contested issues in body corporates.

And for good reason. It’s much cheaper to pay a portion of a repair (via levies) than it is to foot the whole cost yourself. And vice versa. No one likes to pay levies for a repair that essentially benefits one lot only. Well, not if they don’t have to anyway.

Defining boundaries between the lot and common property

In Queensland there are two plan types: building format plan and standard format plan. Every strata scheme is the state is either a building format plan or a standard format plan.

In all cases the actual boundaries of the various lots and the common property are shown on the plan for each particular scheme. The type of plan defines where to measure the boundaries.

Boundaries for a building format plan are measured from the centre of walls, floors and ceilings. The other side of the wall, floor or ceiling then is either common property or another lot.

For a standard format plan boundaries will be in the ground and defined by surveyors marks.

The first step in defining who is responsible for maintaining or repairing a particular piece of property will be defining who actually owns the property. If it’s a lot, then the lot owner is responsible; if it’s common property then it’s body corporate responsibility.

The source of the problem and who it affects

Which is not to suggest that all problems that manifest themselves within your lot are automatically your problem.

For instance, say you have a leak in your ceiling. In an apartment building the roof may be the source of the leak and the roof is common property. Alternatively the source may be from another lot.

Who is responsible for all the damage caused by the problem will be determined by defining ownership of the property from which the problem sources. If it’s your lot, you pay, if it’s your neighbours lot, they pay and if it’s common property then the body corporate pays. Unless the matter relates to infrastructure.

Infrastructure and Common Property

common property infrastructure repairs

Figure 1: Each individual lot is responsible for maintaining infrastructure connections on common property that service only their lot

Sometimes there is infrastructure on common property that relates to only one lot. In that case any repairs or maintenance of the infrastructure would be at the lot owners expense.

For instance, I did a search recently where a gas leak was identified and repaired on common property, however the cost was billed to a specific lot. The pipe in question, though it was located on common property, only serviced the one lot, therefore was that lot’s responsibility to repair.

Insurance claims

When problems occur in body corporates often an insurance claim can be made to defray the cost of repairs.

The same rules will still apply with regard to determining who is responsible for the cost. Whomever is deemed responsible, i.e. the lot owner or the body corporate, will also be responsible for paying the insurance excess and any amounts not covered by the claim.

Who is responsible for common property repairs and maintenance?

It is entirely possible that you, actually the majority of lot owners, can and will have very little involvement in the actual process of cleaning and maintaining the common property scheme.

Except for the delicate matter of the bill, of course.

Body corporates are led by Committee, the representatives from the pool of lot owners duly elected at the Annual General Meeting.

It is the Committee’s responsibility to arrange, implement and monitor common property repairs and maintenance.

Which doesn’t mean the keys to the cleaning closet are handed over at the same time as the Committee is finalised.

In all but the very smallest schemes professionals are hired to undertake cleaning and maintenance tasks. That can be as simple as employing a regular lawn mower and as complex as engaging a Building Manager under a Caretaking Agreement.

How the Committee chose what to do

The Committee’s responsibility is to keep track of what needs addressing and make plans to address it.

Most existing body corporates will have a framework to ensure the scheme is cleaned on a regular basis. Those processes will need to be monitored and any issues addressed.

Other repair and maintenance problems, which would include everything from blown light bulbs in community lighting right up to complex structural defects, need to be addressed on a case by case basis.

The key tool for deciding what gets done and when is the budget.

Every year the Committee budgets what they’re going to spend, and what on, and estimates the cost of those outgoings. This is the budget which forms the basis of levies.

There isn’t a lot of wriggle room in the budget, which is one reason why it can take such a long time for common property issues to be addressed. The Committee is literally waiting for the opportunity to make funds available.

Urgent repairs

Obviously some things don’t have the option of waiting, like a burst pipe or fire in the scheme.

In these cases the body corporate will take action immediately and deal with the fallout later, which can include all sorts of nasty things like disputes over who is liable, special levies to recoup unintended expenditure or delays to other repairs.

In all cases it will be the Committee responsibility to authorise action and deal with the consequences.

Who actually undertakes the work?lawn mowing

One of the most common issues for small to medium buildings is who is going to actually do the work. Quotes need to be obtained and authorised and the work monitored and inspected before payment can be made.

If it can be that process is outsourced to professionals, however much of it will fall to the Committee to arrange.

For larger schemes a Caretaker is appointed and a large portion of their role is to either do the works themselves or manage the process of appointing another professional.

The Caretaker reports directly to the Committee who are responsible for making decisions and authorising next steps, within the defined spending limits of the scheme.

Body Corporate Managers (BCM’s) and repairs and maintenance

It’s a common misconception that the BCM will organise and execute repairs and maintenance around the scheme if there is no Caretaker.

It is true that some Mangers will undertake these types of works, however the general rule of thumb is they do not.

For most schemes the Body Corporate Manager is unlikely to be involved in maintenance issues beyond issuing a work order to an already specified workman and then paying the bill, and only then at the express direction of the Committee.

For those buildings without a Caretaker the task of identifying needed works, obtaining quotes and monitoring works will fall to the Committee.

Problems arising with body corporate repairs and maintenance

The process of body corporate repairs and maintenance is very reliant on the effectiveness of the Committee.

The process breaks down when Committees fail to act, fail to act quickly or when there isn’t an active Committee.

It’s also common to have issues finding tradesmen. The larger a building the more complex it becomes and it can be difficult matching skill levels required to undertake works against what the scheme can afford, or will, pay.

Complexity can become a real problem for defining what the issue actually is. This is particularly important when it comes to building defects which may be enormously complex and further hampered by the necessity to process requests through approved channels to tick all legal boxes should litigation be required.

And as already discussed financial issues can create time lags.

What can you do?

As a lot owner it’s to your benefit the scheme be regularly maintained and repaired.

If you see anything that you feel hasn’t been addressed write to your Committee discussing the matter and asking for the repair to be undertaken.

The Committee will table the correspondence and discuss it at the next meeting. The repair may not be undertaken, however reasons why and other considerations will be noted in the minutes, a great benefit for both general understanding of lot owners and the sale of lots.

If repair and maintenance issues are lagging because the process has broken down consider what you can do to help. Can you join the Committee? Do you know some tradespeople? Do you have particular skills that may help?

Remember the Committee are people just like yourself and you may have skills or knowledge they’re looking for.

What if you don’t agree with what the body corporate is doing?

In an environment where “majority rules” it’s very common to come across those who disagree with the direction the Committee is taking with repairs and maintenance and refurbishments and upgrades.

The best thing you can do is to express yourself (remembering to be respectful and limit your complaints to behaviour not personalities). You may find support from other lot owners who feel as you do.

Formal objections may be made via an Adjudication Application or a Notice of Opposition to a Committee decision. These are legal avenues and it’s a good idea to seek legal advice before going in this direction.

Assuming all the legislative boxes are ticked and it’s the will of the majority you will simply have no choice.

What do you think?

Body corporate repairs and maintenance are difficult issues for most schemes. A consistent and mindful Committee couple with good communication will make all the difference.

What about your experiences? Is there something that happened in your strata scheme that you found particularly difficult to deal with? Leave a comment below and share your knowledge.

THE BASICS OF BODY CORPORATES

A little knowledge can go a long way


I see so many stressful and frustrating issues in body corporate records that result from simple misunderstandings it hurts my head. If I could do one thing to help it would be to teach everyone the basic rules, so they can avoid all these dramas.


With that in mind I've put together a short eBook that sets out the basics everyone owning in a body corporate really should know. It won't make those big issues go away, but it will give you a firm grounding from which to communicate.


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Comments

  1. Janice Warren says:

    If the Caretaker is not doing his cleaning duties despite repeated requests what are the committees options ?
    Also he is saying certain sections of common property i.e. water features are not his responsibility to clean ?
    I would appreciate your help.

    • Hi Janice

      If you’re not already start documenting all your interactions with the manager about the issues. Its important because your next steps involve getting on the path toward legal action. You have a formal contract with the Caretaker and if they’re not doing what they’re supposed to you need to breach them, with the threat if they continue not doing their job the contract may be cancelled.

      Also review your Caretaking Agreement. The tasks that the manager will need to undertake will be set out in the agreement. To enforce the contract what you’re asking them to do must actually be in the contract. An vice versa they cannot refuse to undertake tasks that are set out in the agreement.

      This is a legal dispute so the scheme should be prepared to engage a solicitor is necessary to help you through the process. Again refer to the agreement appointing the Caretaker as it will likely have dispute resolution procedures as well.

      • Ranita Coumbis says:

        At the end of the day you will not be able to do anything …except spend money on lawyers. When/if it goes to court the judge will say “naughty person, don’t do that” and things will continue. There has never been a different scenario in Queensland. If someone buys the management rights then the law says they have a right to them and they will not be removed. So if the caretaker decides to do absolutely nothing…there is nothing in the end you can do about it. Sorry but that is our experience.

        • Hi Ranita

          Thanks for commenting. Sadly what you’re discussing is something that does happen. It is difficult to breach a manager under the terms of the Caretaking and Letting Agreements and succeed in cancelling the agreements. For a lot of these disputes they’re only resolved when the manager sells.

          • Michael David says:

            Stating that there is No course of action is totally incorrect. You can and should ensure that the caretaker who has purchased the property rights and has an agreement in place is doing the duties in the agreement. There are no ifs or Buts here.
            It is perfectly acceptable for the committee to BREACH the caretaker and it should be done. A breach makes the sale of the property rights very difficult.
            Contact the unit owners association immediately and start the process to getting rid of the agreement. Most agreements render the properties completely nonviable.

            Management rights cripple all that they cover.
            also seriously look into the actions of the Body corporate (NOT the committee) and see if they are ripping your scheme blind. There is a major BCS in Qld that is robbing schemes absolutely blind.
            If your on a committee or a unit owner do yourself a favor and disclose it all to the unit owners association.

            Feel free to contact me personally also.

          • Hi Michael

            Thanks for your comment. I’m not sure which comment in particular you’re disagreeing with.

            Thanks for sharing your opinion.

  2. Your Body corp did major work to the front of 4 townhouses and deemed it was Body corp. They got quotes etc and did the work. After this, all of our steps to our units were broken and needed to be replaced. Body corp are now saying the major repairs and steps are our problem and we have to pay. If it was our problem from the start we (4 townhouses) would have got together and worked out how we could do this and also afford it.
    The original problem was a crack running along where our slab met the gardens. The wing walls of the garden were replaced also our upstairs balconies timbers are on the wing walls.

    Also, two of us share steps to our units – one goes left on the top step and the other right. Is this body corp?

    • Hi Linda

      I confess I’m confused by this question. It sounds like the body corporate took action to complete work on common property which is exactly what they’re supposed to do. If that then created a problem with the steps, well, that is unfortunate however they may be right in saying the matter is lot owner responsibility. The type of plan it’s registered under will tell you where the boundaries of the lot and common property are.

      I think the problem you’re having is thinking of the body corporate as separate to you. You are a member of the body corporate and you will have contributed to the repairs made to the pavement. Now you’re being asked to deal individually with matters that relate to your lot only. Or in the case of joint stairs, you and your neighbour. Again though, refer to your plan to be sure. It could be shared between you and your neighbour or common property. If you and your neighbour share then you meet the cost jointly (same as if the roof is shared) or if it’s common property the body corporate will repair and you fund through levies.

  3. Claire Hill says:

    My Body Corp is lagging behind in getting a quote for my water damaged ceiling.. roof leaked in a storm,26/12/15.. Body corp notified 27/12/15.. said it was their Insurance job to repair.. now almost 4 weeks later no inspector has been to assess damage, despite many reminder phone calls
    What is my next step ? ( small block of 3 units, external Body Corp)

    • Hi Claire

      In the body corporate world four weeks isn’t a lot of time. It can often take longer. I wrote about why here if you interested.

      Keep trying to contact the manager. If you cannot contact the manager you could try and contact the insurance company directly and see they will give you some information about what’s happening. If you still have no joy you can make an application to the Office Commissioner Body Corporate to force the body corporate to take action, although be aware that is likely to be a time consuming process as well.

      Patience and persistence are going to be your best bet here I’m afraid.

      • Claire Hill says:

        thank you.. I must be patient.

        • It might be a good idea.

          Do keep following them up though because sometimes managers can drag their feet and your contact will remind them to take action.

          • I have the same problem. Had a leaky roof, wet and damaged the ceiling, strata arranged a repair person, they came and supposedly fixed the leak I had the ceiling repaired now it leaked worse than before and the ceiling is in danger of falling in. I wanted to show them pictures and they said I would have to make an appointment to even see them. My roof, my ceiling, my home and they tell me that? I got angry and they had someone out the next day who said the ceiling is bad, at least two sheets need replacing, the roof is not fixed in fact where it was leaking is terrible. Now I have been waiting, waiting,waiting……………I also had other issues with them where they sent a repairman to replace our broken entrance door tiles on the outside. Oh he did. Replaced half chocolate and half white. And got nasty when I said it is terrible. So he went away and replaced them with all white they should have all been chocolate. The mortar and cement fell out in one week (pictures) and he cut into our wooden door step and angle ground a horseshoe shape in our front cement under the verandah. I had to do the whole repair again at my cost with the correct tiles at my expense. I have pictures of it all. Also when I have a repair to a window the other 3 unit owners vote against it and I have to bear the cost myself. Example the laundry window. Strata sent a guy to fix it. He removed the window then broke the handle and said we needed a new window. The others voted it is my problem. Thank you for that! This strata company is Ace Body Corporate at prospect. They do not even replay to emails. I did not attend the last meeting as I was away and do not have my copy of that meeting and want to know why the fees went from $281 to $304 per quarter. 2 emails over many weeks no answer at all.

  4. An owner called out a plumber (without prior notice to the BC) for a sewerage over flow and is now demanding the BC pay the plumbers bill… Is the BC (Body Corporate) responsible

    • Hi Frydman

      Who pays for the work will depend on where the problem was and where it stemmed. If the problem was on common property most likely its body corporate responsibility, unless the infrastructure being fixed serviced the one lot only, then its lot owner responsibility. If the problem experienced was within the lot then where did the problem stem from? The lot (lot owner responsibility) or common property (body corporate).

      The boundaries of the lot will be defined by the building plan – standard format plan will mean that the lot is defined by pegs in the ground and building format plan by the centre of walls and ceilings. Refer to your own plan for details.

      Areas allocated as exclusive use remain common property notwithstanding the lot owner must keep them clean and tidy.

  5. I am the owner of a strata title unit in a block of 12 i have just been presented with a bill for $2,300 as my contribution towards ‘drainage repairs’ am i entitled to view quotes and can I investigate the funds in hand in the body corporates books, I believe as I am paying body corporate fees of $330.00 a qtr together with the other owners there should be sufficient funds to cover the cost of maintenance not withstanding i have not seen the scope of alleged work that may have to be carried out also the manager of the b/c has issued me with a solicitors letter of demand for $2300.00 plus costs

    • Hi Norman

      It sounds like your body corporate has issued a special levy for drainage works. To do that they need to have a general meeting, present quotes and all the owners then have an opportunity to vote. I’d refer back to the Notice of Meeting that was sent out to you. It should contain both the quotes (two minimum) and the financial position of the body corporate.

      If that’s what’s happened essentially you’ve already had the opportunity to look at this stuff along with having your chance to vote on the matter. If you missed it there’s little you can do about it now.

      If you haven’t received the Notice of Meeting then you have a reason to complain. You option is to lodge an Adjudication Application challenging the method of the meeting and asking the motion be overturned.

      Whatever you choose I’d pay the bill as it will only accrue further costs. If you successfully argue that the meeting was not consistent with legislation then you can get refunded.

      Fees of $330 per quarter or $1,320 per annum are not enough to build a Sinking Fund that will cover works like this when they come up. That amount will be mostly administration costs and you’re hardly putting anything away for capital works at all. That’s the trade off when you have low levies; if major works arise, which they do from time to time then special levies are required.

  6. My body corpoprate has commisioned someone replace the tiling on everyone’s balconies due to problems with some of them leaking. The contractors need access to people’s apartments to perform the work. They have spent the past two months taking their time ripping apart the flooring of everyone’s balconies but haven’t gotten around to replacing the tiles and it remains unclear how long it will be until owners/tenants regain access to their balconies. I am a tenant and don’t feel it is reasonable to have to provide access to my apartment for an unspecfified period of time and also to lose access to my balcony for a prolonged period of time. It should not take over two months to re tile a medium sized balcony. I was wondering what recourse I have to press for a more timely job or to recieve a rental discount for the period of disruption.

    • Hi CJ

      That sounds terrible. I agree that you shouldn’t have your balcony with no tiles on it for months and it’s not good for the structure of the building either.

      I think tenants can make an application for Adjudication to force the scheme to take action but you need to have taken action to try and resolve the problem in the first place. Have you spoken with your lot owner? Complaining to your owner or agent is probably the first place to start. They can then make a complaint to the body corporate requesting the balconies get fixed. There might be a valid reason for the delay, but it sounds like unlikely.

      Any discount would need to come from your lot owner. They could then try and get reimbursement from the body corporate.

  7. What if you are not satisfied with the speed at which the Body Corporate Manager is taking to resolve an issue?

    I’ve had two leaking water pipelines, identified in December last year, from common property areas. in between the walls of the apartment and from the apartment above. The tenant threatened sue and has now left the property. My real estate agent believes that I can’t rent out the apartment in the current state. The Body Corporate is moving at a snails pace. Meanwhile I’m losing money hand over fist in mortgage repayments

    • Hi JB

      Hmmm…you might need to make an Adjudication application to get the body corporate to take action. First though write to the Committee, if you haven’t already, letting them know of the problem, how it’s affecting you and asking them to rectify asap.

      If you’ve already done that talk to the commissioners office and/or your solicitor. You must try and rectify but if they continue dragging their feet I would seek an order.

      Possibly the whole thing is an insurance claim and that’s what’s taking time.

      Definitely consider making a claim for loss of rent on body Corp insurance.

  8. Can the EC remove a tree on common property without asking me (owner) the tree acts as a screen and helps with privacy. If it was removed it would have a detrimental affect on my property value . The Tree needs to be pruned back from the driveway each year. What can I do to ensure it is not removed and or do I have any rights to compensation if it is.

    • Hi George

      The tree is on common property and therefore is owned by the Owners’ Corporation and is under the control of the Executive Committee. If it’s causing a problem then they would be duty bound to remove it. You as an owner may certainly make your preference heard but I don’t believe you have any control over whether or not it goes. About the only thing you could do it put up a motion at general meeting that the tree stay and allow all the owners to vote on it. See what the majority feel, although again, if the majority feel it must go then it goes. And again, if its causing some form of damage then it will need to go as well.

      If it does go, immediately ask for something else to be put in it’s place.

      • Hi Lisa, we had a tree removed from the front of 3 units which has removed our privacy. This was a 10m tree. It has left us with a view of other apartments across from us and that building is in a bad state of repair. Here the thing in our BC meeting we discussed trimming back the trees and removing small invasive trees. The was no vote or discussion about removing the 10m tree. Can the BC committee make such a decision without a vote?

        What are our options from here?

        Peter

        • Hi Peter

          Committees make all sorts of decisions without votes. They shouldn’t but they do. Its only an issue if someone objects.

          You could certainly object but the tree is gone now and all the objections in the world won’t bring it back. And the committee can simply ratify the decision at the next meeting.

          I suggest you explain your dissatisfaction, keep it calm and respectful, then ask for some form of replacement, a built screen or new plants to give you back some privacy. The body corporate doesn’t necessarily have to provide it but nothing hurt by asking.

  9. Hi,

    We have purchased an apartment in a large complex on the Gold Coast. On a weekend visit we noticed wet carpet between the laundry and bathroom. At first, we attached an extension over an open drainage pipe from the air conditioning which was located under the laundry tub. As it is a holiday rental the management team arranged for a maintenance person to cut holes in the wall to check it wasn’t the sprinkler or air conditioning pipes. It was neither and the team confirmed it was the open pipe which had been splashing back and causing water damage to the walls and carpet. We have since found out this is an issue identified in many apartments. Are we right to claim the costs of the investigation on the body corporate as it is essentially an original works defect?

    • Hi Jan

      The body corporate is not responsible for original works defects, the Builder is, and there are warranty periods. For ‘cosmetic’ defects, meaning minor defects the warranty period is 6 months. For ‘structural’ defects is 6 years and some change. Lot owners must make their own claims for damages within the lots.

      If you’re in the warranty period make a claim from the Builder. If out of the warranty period and the issue was raised you may still be able to make a claim. I’d have a discussion with your body corporate manager.

      This article has some good information about obtaining

      • Hi Lisa,

        The building was built 2009, so is out of warranty period. I was wondering if the body corp had not acted on the builder on a known issue, presuming they knew, then does that make them liable? This issue has obviously been ongoing for a while as the carpet is mouldy underneath and there is moisture damage to the plaster at floor level. We did have the building inspected and the splashback was raised as a possible problem, nothing mentioned about the existing damage to the carpet and the plaster. We were unable to attend inspection and generally their disclaimer voids them from responsibility if they miss something. We will make contact with the body corp and hear their response. Thanks.

        • Hi Jan

          If they haven’t acted on a known issue it certainly makes them liable, if the issue is there responsibility in the first place.

  10. I also found this information on the site referenced. Is this incorrect information then? Thanks.
    “Building Defects
    The Body Corporate is responsible for all repair and maintenance; including building defects. Many Body Corporate building’s (sic) face minor and major defects as a result of the original building work. Unfortunately, the responsibility to rectify these defects falls on the Body Corporate.”

    http://www.omb.com.au/building-defects.html

    • Hi Jan

      The information is not incorrect so much as it is out of context. The body corporate is responsible for repairs and maintenance, including building defects …to the common property. The lot is and always remains the responsibility of the individual lot owner.

      Think of it like this: The body corporate owns the common property, in trust jointly for the lot owners. It is jointly funded by those owners by way of levies. The joint funds in the body corporate must only ever be spent on works to the jointly owned common property. Everything else is the responsibility of the lot owner it affects.

  11. Hi Jan,

    I (and 50% of the owners) received a letter from our Body Corporate Managers stating that at a recent BC Meeting it was discussed that one half of the building had replaced the original balcony tiles and that the BC had the responsibility to ensure that all aspects of the building are in first class order, so the BC is requesting that all other owners replace balcony tiles with new ones which they must approve. There is nothing wrong with my tiles and they were resealed a few years ago. The BC claim that it is the owners responsibility to rectify defects, but then go on to say that new tiles look good and will modernise the building. The letter goes on to say that I should attend to this promptly, however I have 135 square metres of balcony with good original tiles. Can the BC make everyone pay to upgrade their balcony tiles if there are no defects that can be seen, but really for aesthetic purposes as they put it? It will be a massive expense as I have the biggest balcony over the roof of another unit.

    • Hi Frank

      Ooh this is a tricky one and I’m afraid I can’t give a definitive answer.

      Balcony tiles will be contained within your lot, and are therefore your responsibility. This you already know because the body corporate has already asked you to upgrade the tiles at your expense. Where it gets tricky is that the body corporate doesn’t have the right to make decisions about your lot. If there is a defect in the tiles which is affecting the underlying water membrane then they are duty bound to enforce rectification of the defect in order to protect the membrane.

      Does the same apply if there isn’t a defect? In my opinion no. Original tiles that are different from replaced tiles are not defective. They’re just old.

      That said, I’ve seen lot owners directed many times to paint lots in a standard format plan scheme to maintain the overall appearance of the scheme. I’ve had a search but can’t find where that power derives from. Possible it’s contained within the schemes by-laws.

      In your position what I would do is write to the body corporate, point out that your tiles are not defective and, unless they can come up with some legislative requirements why, you don’t see any need to replace them. Or words to that affect. That would put the ball back in their court and, should you eventually seek Adjudication on the matter, give you a start to attempting to resolved the issue.

      I’m sorry I couldn’t be more definitive for you Frank.

  12. William ROBINSON says:

    Hello Lisa,

    Recently we had some lots in our Standard Format scheme fall into some disrepair, and rendered them uninsurable. The owners did Repairs and Maintenance on their lots at their expense (the R and M was entirely within their lot boundaries).

    At the completion of the R and M, the work was inspected and certified by a building inspector engaged by each of the lot owners. The lot owners are now claiming that the Inspection and Certification costs should be paid by the Body Corporate.

    The owners say that the BC is required to insure the complex and should do all things necessary to have the building insurable (but not the actual costs of R and M). The BC agrees with all that but does not agree with paying the Inspection and Certification costs, as it considers the Inspection and Certification costs to be part and parcel of the R and M costs.

    Section 180 of the Regulations details the requirements of the BC to insure the complex, but is silent on the matter of getting a property up to an insurable condition (understandably).

    Any advice would be appreciated.

    William R

    • Hi William

      I answered this on your other question on a different page.

      Short answer: They caused the need for certification to arise so they should pay. Otherwise it would be unfair to the other owners.

      • William ROBINSON says:

        Thank you Lisa,
        Yes, there would be a difference in liability based on the “cause” of the R and M performed and the Inspection and Certification costs.
        William.

  13. Hi, I live in a complex of approximately 60 townhouses which was built 15 years ago. The colour scheme, of heritage colours, is outdated and I feel it devalues the complex and my townhouse. I have spent money updating the inside and would now like to update the external building.
    With the housing boom and associated rising real estate prices my apartment value has not risen in the last 8 years. I would like to modernise the external building however the body corporate will not allow it. It now looks like an old outdated retirement village. I would like to know how to address this and have a more modern colour scheme put in place for this wanting to update. For your information there are adjoining walls between some of the apartments – my apartment adjoins to the apartment next door.

    • Hi Kim

      The body corporate members as a whole would need to approve a change of colour scheme. Its a big decision as it will require everyone to paint, and if your scheme is a Standard Format Plan that would be at each lot owners cost (in a Building Format Plan the body corporate is responsible).

      You could propose a motion at the next general meeting for the owners to vote on. Its unlikely to get passed out of the blue without some prep work though, unless a lot of owners think like you. Asking around and discussing with other owners would be a good place to start.

      Alternatively you could join the committee, get the other committee members on board with a change first, then get the committee to propose a motion at the general meeting, though it would still need to be passed.

      Another item to consider is what plans the body corporate already have regarding painting.

      • Thank you for your response – it looks like it may take years so have this outdated colour scheme changed. Seems it would be better to sell.. Thanks again..

  14. My back fence post which divided my property to the adjoining common property. The fence has a gate leading out the common property. Can you let me know who is responsible for paying for the rears.

  15. I have a leak which i am assuming has come from a burst water pipe and water was coming out from the weep holes in my backyard around where my external tape is. I obviously will need to get it fixed quickly, i was just curious as to if this would be covered by the body corporate or not. I live in a townhouse complex.

    Thanks

    • Hi Ben

      Most likely you will need to fix the problem. Usually the definition would be whether it was on common property or within the lot and in a townhouse complex that will be defined by the type of plan you have – BFP vs SFP. So depending on the plan the back yard could be exclusive use or part of the lot.

      Plumbing infrastructure is a bit different though and that will depend on whether the pipe in question services only one lot, which it most likely does. If it only services your lot you are responsible for fixing it.

  16. Just wondering what your interpretation of “committee members have engaged with an owner in discussions regarding replacing a rear boundary fence.” The fence is the part of the scheme boundary. body corporate responsibility!

    • Hi Helen

      The fence may be part of a lot or common property depending on whether the scheme is SFP or BFP.

      Assuming SFP then the fence is half lot and other half neighbour whether or not the body corporate.

      If a BFP then likely the Committee is negotiating access.

      • Thanks, I should have mentioned that it a SFP . No other lots or common property is involved. It is part of the exterior boundary fence. I do know that owners with dividing fences are responsible for 50-50 of expenses. No access needs to be negotiated. From what I have been able to find on websites it is the body corporate who has to replace it, but just wanted another opinion.

  17. John Nibbs says:

    Hi; thanks for all the info :-). We have a multi storey unit complex under building format plan. A upper level unit has major plumbing problem (the cold water pipe was not clad properly and is now corroded and needs total replacement which can only be done with extensive scaffolding and removal of brickwork). The pipe is for the exclusive use of the unit but runs through the centre of the double brick exterior wall. Who is responsible for repairs as, in my opinion, falls right on the boundary line (centre of the wall). Thanks

  18. I received a note from my property manager to advise that a re-seal of the shower was to be carried out as my shower was leaking into downstairs garage of another unit (which would cause no damage to my unit) and was covered by strata. This note came in 2 months ago and I found out a few weeks ago that the work has still not been completed.
    I went into the unit 2 weeks ago to find that the whole shower floor has been ripped up (all the tiles have been removed) for a full waterproofing job. The plumber left the shower floor ripped up and un-usable so I cannot re-list the property for rent… (Once the job continues it will take another 2 weeks) so a total of 4 weeks rent I have now lost. I am unsure why work was stopped – I am speaking with strata currently but nobody can give me answers.
    Who is responsible for the lost rent? And should strata have seeked approval from my property manager OR me as the owner to carry out works that would affect the look of my unit? (As the tiles cannot be matched for the shower floor).
    Thanks for your help!

    • Hi Mel

      That is a complex question and I’m afraid I’m not sure of the answer.

      Firstly, I’m confused as to why a body corporate is fixing a shower in a lot. Showers are lot owner responsibility. Normally if there is a leak from one lot into another then the lot the leak originates from is responsible. I assume there is something more complex going on, in which case yes, I would have assumed the body corporate would discuss it with you or your agent.

      I would discuss making an insurance claim for loss of rent with your strata manager. In the first instance look at claiming on the body corporate insurance (with BC to pay excess as they’ve caused the issue) and if that fails look to you own landlord insurance.

      That’s about all the help I can offer Mel. I’m sorry it’s not more.

  19. Hi Lisa, strata sent me a $2000 Plumbing repair bill 6 weeks ago which I knew absolutely nothing about, when I asked them they told me my water meter at the unit was ‘spinning’ a year ago & caused damage to the carpets & ceilings of other nearby units, they told me that the excess >at the time” was $2000 I then asked how much was the actual bill, they told me $2126. I was completely floored knowing full well that the excess is currently only $250! They told me it was but that particular time it was $2000!!@# I told them I didn’t have the money to pay the unexpected amount of $2000 so then they spoke to their insurance & now the bill is $1000 meanwhile I had approached the “damaged units” occupants concerned & no carpets or ceilings were replaced & its been 12 months. I’m very hesitant to pay the $1000 as my tenants deny there were any repairs done to the unit & I wasn’t informed by the Strata at the time.. I Your advice will be greatly appreciated.

    • Hi George

      At first this sounded odd but now that I’ve thought about it, it has the classic ring of strata about it. Taking so long to address the situation – a year? seriously? – not so unusual really. Committees meet rarely and some of them drag their feet when they do. And dropping big bombshells like that; again classic strata. So annoying. You’d think correspondence required carving something in stone the way some of them act.

      OK, from your perspective you need to verify that this is your responsibility. You need to see some documentation. Committee minutes would be good, the insurance claim, the invoices for the works. The last would be bet because what you’re looking for here is definitive proof that it came from your lot.

      Also, the question has to be asked, if your lot caused damaged to another lot how come you know nothing about it? Has the matter been repaired? Is it going to happen again? It could be that the problem stemmed from an overflow or something caused by your tenant, if there is one, in which case you might be eligible to claim on your landlord insurance. There might also be problems with the way the body corporate has acted. You need some information here so see what you can get.

      If you find you do have to pay for it I’d enter into a payment arrangement to pay it off. You don’t want this to impact on your levies at all as when you start loosing discounts and adding interest thing add up quickly.

      • Thanks Lisa, the repairs were done 12 months ago without my knowledge & the $2000 bill was sent to me 3 weeks ago claiming that the amount was the excess at that time, after complaining they lowered it to $1000 which to me still sounds bizzar as my tenant was there when the external repairs were done & reassures me that they had nothing to do with our unit – I will be going to the unit block & asking more questions like I did 3 weeks ago when strata had told me the ceiling on the unit downstairs was replaced around the same time when it had not been replaced or repaired AT ALL.

  20. Therese Taylor says:

    We had a leak that ruined two floors of carpets – $6000 later I am still paying.

    3 Reports have intimated that the leak was caused by water travelling from the roof and through the inside wall and onto our carpets. There were also damaged suffits which may have contributed to the damage, and Body corp took responsibility for the damaged suffits. The body corp sent in a tradesperson who cut holes in the walls which indicated water travelling down inside the wall from the roof. Now I have requested due to the reports that they take responsibility for the holes in our plasterboard walls for 3 reasons, firstly their tradesperson made the cuts, and secondly leak from damaged suffits are their responsibility, therefore damage caused from the damaged suffits should be their responsibility, thirdly if the damage didn’t come via the suffits, but from the roof and through the middle of the wall then it should be their responsibility. I believe they are voting now and that it wont get the OK. What recourse do I have.

    • Hi Therese

      I agree that the holes in the plasterboard is there responsibility. I also think if it’s proven the water came from water ingress through the roof (assuming a BFP) then all the works are body corporate responsibility. Not only should they fix the issue but also reimburse you for works. That’s my reading based on the facts you’ve given me.

      If they vote no, they being the committee I assume, then immediately contact Office Commissioner Body Corporate with a view to making an application for Adjudication. Seek an order that the body corporate rectify the plasterboard and reimburse you for works arising. Worse case scenario the decision would go against you which you won’t loose anything from where you are now. Best would be you’d get some or even all of what you’re seeking.

      • Therese Taylor says:

        Great advice…. I just wasn’t sure where to proceed from here, but that’s great information. In the end I just want to put up a fight, we would sort it out ourselves if need be, but that’s not the point. They are trying to bully me and hope i’ll just go away….

        I’ll certainly be becoming a committee member next AGM as advised on this website.

        Cheers

  21. Marg eadon says:

    Hi we have unit in a group of six, I reported water damage four months ago after a large storm the roof lifted and I have water damage to a bedroom wall, The report has just been heard at a meeting one of the other owners said that he was not happy with price of quotes, this owner owns three of the units and stops lots of maintenance happening because he has three votes,he has asked for more quotes, in the mean time I still have water getting in and the damage will soon grow to include floor and carpet is it worth me getting legal advise the units are very run down due to no maintenance ever being done the paint is peeling of building and there is a dead tree out the front of block.

    • Hi Marg

      Assuming your scheme is a building format plan then they have to get on with sorting it out. If they drag their feet too long you can make an application for adjudication seeking an order that they rectify the problem.

  22. Good morning Lisa

    I live in a multi story unit complex in Queensland and lots of my tiles have lifted and cracked all of a sudden throughout the unit. The body corporate organized an engineer to inspect and create a report and found that the concrete slab had sagged. Apparently this happens with age of the slab. Who is responsible for the damage this has created. Structurally its sound but to fix inside the unit comes at a great cost. Waterproofing within the bathrooms has also been compromised and recommended by the engineer to replace all. Please point me in the right direction.

    Thanks

    • Hi Dean

      Oh dear, this is not an easy question I’m afraid.

      In a BFP body corporate the boundary between lot and common property is measured in the middle of the walls, floor and ceilings. That would mean that the tiles are the lot owner’s responsibility.

      In this case however you might be able to argue that the problem would not have arisen were it not for a failure of the underlying slab. That said the body corporate could argue that its not meant to spend money on something that would benefit only one lot owner to do so would open floodgates etc etc. Definitively answering it would be a question for an Adjudicator.

      From your perspective you need to move forward here so your best bet is going to be to try and get the body corporate to take on the cost of the works, both the waterproofing and the tiles. What have the decided so far? Refer to your committee meeting minutes and see what’s been said.

      If nothing write to them and ask them to rectify the damage, citing the fact the slab caused the damage. If you choose to seek Adjudication on the matter you will need to have tried to “self resolve” first which means having these conversations. If you include quotes then the committee has something to decide on.

      Another alternatives is to put forth a motion at a general meeting to have the matter resolved. The owners could then vote and if the motion failed it’s another example of self resolution.

      • Lisa

        I am on ground floor and a entrance to the car park beneath me, somewhat unique to all other units with less supportive structure. I have obtained 3 quotes on repair of the damage and passed onto the body corporate. They have made me an offer that could pay part of the repairs but needs to be voted on in a general meeting. I don’t believe it will pass in favor so the next step would be an adjudicator from the body corporate commission I guess or should I utilize a legal representative? (I will know later this week on the result of the motion)

        Thanks for your prompt response
        Dean

        • Hi Dean

          That’s all positive stuff, and the uniqueness is a good thing.

          Legal representation is a good idea. If the decision goes against you an appeal is possible but you’re not allowed to bring in more “evidence” after the fact. Advice at the start can make all the difference. You will have to judge the offsets – are the costs for repair so high that its worth the legal fees?

          All the best. I hope the decision at the GM goes in your favour.

  23. Hi
    This is a great website and your advice is really great. Thank you.
    I had a burst pipe in my bathroom (- The flexi hose so definitely exclusive to my lot, under the sink) yesterday – which has been repaired. However, I have now noticed that there seems to be water either “stuck” under the vanity and maybe even under the tiles. If the tiles, floor or even the ceiling of the unit underneath are damaged will I be responsible?

    • Hi Nathan

      Yes, unfortunately that will likely be the case.

      If it does eventuate then you might be able to make a claim on the scheme insurance. It was an accident after all. In that case you would be liable for the excess only.

      You might be able to claim for your own expenditure as well.

  24. Diane Sharman says:

    Hi Lisa
    My daughter lives in one of 3 townhouses
    The lady in the middle has a water problem
    The insurance company asked for a report done in 2009
    In this report it seems it was about the same problem
    My daughter has asked for any reports and minutes as to the outcomes after this report
    Now she has a problem getting them
    I feel if this problem is the same as before she has a right to know what was done to fix it
    And if nothing was done why not
    However she has been told it was before her time and nothing to do with her

    • Hi Diane

      It should be possible to search the body corporate records to find this information out. Lot owners may phone the manager, make an appointment and go and view the records for a small fee. All the information, if it’s recorded, should be contained within.

  25. You state that “Sometimes there is infrastructure on common property that relates to only one lot. In that case any repairs or maintenance of the infrastructure would be at the lot owners expense”.

    This appears contrary to advice from Office of Fair Trading and Land and Property Information. The advice is that even if the service only services on lot, if it is in common property it is the responsibility of the OC.

    Can you check you advice with OFT.

    • Hi Rob

      Your details relate to NSW or VIC. This website relates QLD legislature and decisions.

      More details about infrastrucuture can be seen here in Queensland Government reference.

  26. Jennifer Bowra says:

    I have bought a strata unit in an over 55’s retirement type village. They are garden units and from my unit there is a set of 3 stairs from my side porch that lead down to the lawn and the nearest clothesline, rubbish bins and the carport where my car is parked. The stairs were not built properly in the first place. I told the manager who had a look and he said they would be fixed to a good standard permanently. I have just had a hip replacement and need access to these steps otherwise have to walk quite a distance in a big circle to get to the bins, car etc. I am wondering if this is a body corp or an owner responsibility – I am happy to contribute to cost in order to have safe stairs. I live in Brisbane.

    • Hi Jennifer

      It will depend whether the stairs are part of the lot or on common property. Do you know the boundaries of your lot? Maybe refer to your contract documentation to see if you have a copy of your plan. If not then contact your body corporate manager; who that is should be noted on the top of your Notice of Contributions.

      I’m confused with something you said: “I told the manager who had a look and he said they would be fixed to a good standard permanently.” That sounds like he plans to fix them?

      • Jennifer Bowra says:

        Thanks for your reply. I found my strata plan, a bit difficult to read but I think my responsibility falls within the thick dark line around my unit and the steps going from my porch are outside of that line and lead on to lawn area so it appears to be common property. However the steps are only of benefit for my unit and not other lot holders, although meter readers use them etc so it is a case of public liability I think.

        He said he will fix them this week and I hope this is done before someone has an accident. I have been advised by my physio not to attempt them.

        • Hi Jennifer

          I’m glad that the stairs are being fixed. It sounds like they are on common property but because they service only your lot the body corporate could argue it’s for your use only. Still, as you say, you can also argue public liability etc.

          I hope it all works out.

  27. Jennifer tully says:

    The tiles on my balcony have risen and some have cracked. I spoke to my body corporate and they said as it is a private balcony accessed only by me through my apartment then it is not considered common property and as such I am responsible for the repairs and casts associated. Is this correct?

    • Hi Jennifer

      The boundary (in an apartment building) between a lot and common property will be midway between the floors. That will mean the body corporate is responsible for the waterproof membrane between walls but the tiles on top are considered part of the lot.

  28. Good day, I trust you are well.

    My geyser burst last year and my bath was leaking, geyser has been replaced and bah repaired, i knew i was liable for the excess, note that i have been asking month to month on what the excess amount is in order for me to pay but never got a response, now after an entire year and about 3 months, i get told i am in arrears on levies due to excess and will be charged interest on outstanding ammount if not paid, i had the money but did not know the amount to pay, now i dont have the money and can only pay it by March as i have a kid now, there lack of respondance and notificaion has put me in this predicament yet i have been querying for months and have the proof, how do i deal with this?

    • Hi Ragavan

      Firstly, with all things body corporate levies, if you can, clear up the account so things don’t get worse. Body corporate legislation requires them to allocate payment to the oldest charge on the account, whatever it is. And missing a payment will affect prompt payment discounts and attract interest.

      Presumably they sent you a notice of contributions that had the amount owing on it, once it had been charged. If not you have an opportunity to argue for reinstatement of lost discounts or removal of interest charged. Again however, you’d need to clear the account.

      Work out how much you would have paid if they’d let you know and then negotiate with them about the rest. If they don’t give it to you then you may seek Adjudication to have the matter adjudicated by a court.

      I cannot stress how important it will be to clear your account. There is no provision for the scheme to give you “leave” from your levies because you’re not in a position to pay.

      • Hi Lisa, I dont have a problem on clearing the account as i understand it is due by myself please understand that the issue is not that i want that excess arrears to be written off and so forth, it is just that i cannot pay it now or by December and it is not my fault that i am only notified over a year later yet i have been requesting the ammounts, my levies are up to date, it is the excess which is the problem, i have been asking for the amounts for months and got no response, as said above over a year later i get told about the excess, i cannot pay interest on something where i am not at fault, i have advised that i will pay an amount that i can afford each month now which i am doing and in March i will settle whatever the balance is than without interest, i am now told that if i don’t settle by December Legal action will be taken against myself?

        Thank you for response and help, really appreciated.

  29. Hi there,

    After reporting a moisture issue to my body corporate over two years ago, work is finally being carried out to rectify the problem (water ingress caused by faulty waterproofing with the building). Thankfully, the body corporate is covering costs for fixing the issue and repairing all resulting damage, with the exception of my carpet – which started to grow mold over this two year period, and possibly prior to that.

    It only seems fair to me that they compensate me for the cost of recarpeting the two affected rooms, as it’s clear the mold damage came as a result of the increased moisture caused by the issue.

    I know that carpet is technically a fixture, and doesn’t generally fall within a body corporate’s responsibility. But my contents insurance won’t cover it either, as the water damage is not sudden (e.g storm damage).

    What do you think, is it reasonable for me to ask them to cover my recarpeting cost?

    • Hi Diego

      I suggest you make a claim on the body corporate insurance. It will most likely cover damage caused from a water leak.

      The body corporate should be responsible for the excess since the issue was caused from a leak on common property.

  30. Hi Lisa , your site is very informative. Our unit had a leak which we did not know about. There was water dripping at a fair rate into the pool on the floor below us. The BC nominated plumber had a look in our unit and couldn’t see any leaks. They then knocked holes in the common property wall on our floor and on a floor above to see if they could see the leak. no luck. They knocked a hole in the pool area ceiling and it did look like the water was from our unit. so plumber comes back to our unit and this time using a sound detector gadget found a leak in our sink 4 metres from the wall they knocked a hole in and determined water was tracking under the floor and we were indeed responsible for the leak.. now BC gives us a bill for $3,800 for the whole lot !! I am happy to pay for the leak in my unit but not the 20+ HOURS of “investigative” work.. what do you think ?

    • Steve

      Oh no, this is so unfortunate and common in complex buildings. It creates a difficult situation. I understand how you feel about having to pay for the 20+ hours of investigation work. The problem is if it hadn’t been done the work the source of the leak would not have been found.

      Also the matter isn’t in any way caused by the other lot owners. And when it comes to the question of the body corporate paying the cost the committee need to answer to the other owners for that. The body corporate is not allowed to pay to repair things that don’t relate to common property.

      As I said, so unfortunate. I don’t see a way they can pay the bill for you, despite them likely already having done so. They must on charge to the lot owner concerned.

      Don’t let that stop you asking for relief though. Because, woah, lot of money. Review the bills and if there’s one that you think you can argue they didn’t need to do then argue away. Can you make a claim on the insurance and simply pay the excess? At least for damage caused. Have the discussion with the body corporate manager or ask the committee. Worst case scenario get some sort of payment plan in place to pay the money back.

  31. Hi Lisa, I dont have a problem on clearing the account as i understand it is due by myself please understand that the issue is not that i want that excess arrears to be written off and so forth, it is just that i cannot pay it now or by December and it is not my fault that i am only notified over a year later yet i have been requesting the ammounts, my levies are up to date, it is the excess which is the problem, i have been asking for the amounts for months and got no response, as said above over a year later i get told about the excess, i cannot pay interest on something where i am not at fault, i have advised that i will pay an amount that i can afford each month now which i am doing and in March i will settle whatever the balance is than without interest, i am now told that if i don’t settle by December Legal action will be taken against myself?

    notice of contributions have been given but the excess amount were never stated on them until last month. if they had let me known at the time or in the times which i have asked i would have settled the ammount during that month or the month after as i never had a kid than and my wife was still employed.

    Thank you for response and help, really appreciated.

    • Hi Ragavan

      It sounds like the excess has now added to your levy account. To avoid penalties it needs to be cleared. When payments are made to levy accounts statutorily they must be credited off the oldest amount on the account and if that’s the excess it will mean your levies are unpaid which may triger loss of prompt payment discounts, interest and arrears fees.

      Talk to your body corporate manager and let them know you’re having a problem. See what they can do, what relief can be granted. Tell them everything you’ve told me. Maybe they can come up with something. Try to head the whole thing off at the pass if you can.

  32. The tenants living in the unit above us have a balcony garden that continuously leaks dirty water all over our car, causing us to have to clean it regularly.
    What are our options? We are owners.

    • Hi Sarah

      First I would discuss it with the tenant, let them know the problem and ask them to do something different. If you have no luck there then send a letter of complaint to your committee.

  33. Graeme Ritchie says:

    Hello Lisa, I live in a block of flats in a building format plant with a standard module. Each flat has their own small electric water heater in the bathroom as well as a washing machine, toilet etc. Each flat has their own water supply and isolation valve.
    The copper water pipes have leaked in some flats which the has led to the body corporate paying for the full installation of new copper pipes, hot and cold. The copper water pipes are located in the boundary wall of the bathroom but enter an internal wall to travel to the kitchen.
    Is the body corporate correct in paying for the full cost of pipe replacement? I have an understanding that all pipes associated with a hot water system are the lot owners responsibility.

    • Hi Graeme

      That’s a complex question and probably best left to an Adjudicator who’s studied the matter.

      Generally speaking the body corporate is responsible for getting the plumbing to the lot. Works within each lot should then be the responsibility of the individual lot owner. If its in a wall then its generally considered common property.

      Sometimes though its not that straight forward. Buildings get built and registered in weird and wonderful ways. Without knowing the reasoning behind why the scheme has chosen to do things the way they have it’s difficult to know whether it’s a problem or not. My advice is if you’re going to object I’d start by posing the same question to the body corporate and seeing what they come back with. There might be other factors at play you don’t know about.

      • Graeme Ritchie says:

        Hi Lisa,

        The ownership of water pipes went to conciliation. It was determined that hot water pipes are the owners responsibility even if they are in boundary walls but the cold water pipes servicing the hot water system are the body corporate responsibility if they are in boundary walls.
        I was not really happy with the outcome as the conciliation did not discuss other devices which provide a utility service, such as a toilet or washing machine.

        • Hi Graeme

          It sounds like the hot water pipes service each lot individually as they go to each lot individually, but the cold water pipes go to a central place that services many lots. Just a guess, I haven’t read the order.

          If you’re unhappy with an Adjudicators decision you appeal it to the Magistrates Court. Its best to discuss with a lawyer to see if you have grounds for an appeal. Also you’re not allowed to bring in additional evidence so, again, legal expertise is required.

          Alternatively you could make an additional application to get a ruling on the other utility services.

  34. Graeme Ritchie says:

    Hello Lisa,
    Thank you for your fast response to my question regarding ownership of copper water pipes.
    I have another question if you could be so kind to answer.
    The committee has decided to put forward a motion to be voted on by owners at our 40 flat complex that they allow the body corporate to pay for repairs or replacement of items that are not on common property.
    As an example they are wanting permission to replace faulty hot water systems inside flats which are clearly the owners responsibility.
    Are they legally allowed to pay for repair or replacement of non common area property. It seems to contravene with the government body corporate legislation which defines who is responsible for maintenance.
    If the owners do agree to the motion, should this be embedded in the by-laws so the body corporate cannot change their mind in the future.

    • Hi Graeme

      You’re correct, that is not allowed under the legislation. The body corporate responsibility, and jurisdiction for that matter, relates to common property only. Body corporate funds are trust funds and they must be spent on common property costs only. The guiding idea here is less governance and cost not more.

      If they need to pass a motion to do this I would suggest they’ve been advised by someone that its not allowed. Even with agreement from the lot owners you cannot breach the legislation. If passed I would object immediately via an application for Adjudication via Office Commissioner BC. Neither does it matter if the matter is codified as a by-law. Registering a by-law doesn’t automatically make it enforceable, particularly not when it breaches legislation.

  35. I am being blocked from free access to my gas and water utilities and water heater by another lot owner who has boarded up the access gate so as to contain her dogs. The title says this area is common land, but I am not sure if there is a lease on the land assigned to the adjacent apartment she owns. To make things more complicated, she is the head of the owners corporation. I am getting constant warnings from my gas provider to provide clear access to the meter also.
    (At present, she does allow me access through her apartment if she’s home, but sometimes I have cold water for days before I can get her when we are both around, and I am unable to schedule repairs etc.)
    My questions therefore are:
    a) can I research whether any lease agreement for private use applies to the common land in question.
    b) if there is a lease agreement, does the imperative of easement override that?
    c) if no agreement exists, am I in my rights to request the reinstatement of free access to the common area, and removal of dogs kept there (and to whom do I address that request?)
    d) if there is no lease agreement, and the access is not granted by the owner what are my rights from there to get access to my gas and water utilities?

    • Hi Jo

      I’m a little confused by this. If the scheme is large then approach your body corporate manager to discuss your issue. If the scheme is small, such as a duplex then things are more complex.

      Here in QLD leases to lot owners are rare. It would be more likely the area is allocated as exclusive use. In QLD exclusive use allocations are recorded in the CMS of Notification Change of By-laws. In NSW it will be Notification Change of By-laws. Most exclusive use is granted with conditions and in this case the condition might be that the other lot has access.

      You can find out by searching the schemes records. Any lease should be contained in the permanent file. To book a search call your body corporate manager and make a time. There will be a fee payable if you’re not part of the committee.

      If a lease is granted you will need to read the terms of the lease agreement.

      If it ends up looking like the owner has simply excised a part of the common property for themselves then you are well within your rights to complain and demand access. You must try and negotiate a resolution with your neighbour first (keep records of your attempts) and if that doesn’t work you may seek conciliation and adjudication through the appropriate government body for your state.

  36. Malcolm Barr says:

    Hi Lisa,

    I’ve just purchased a unit in a multi storey block. I have noticed after rain that water pools on the balcony. Even though there is a drain in the centre of the balcony, the balcony slops away from the drain to the outside corner where there is a lip that prevents water from draining away. So after a rain shower the balcony is about 20% flooded until evaporation occurs. This is probably a defect when the apartments were built 9 years ago.

    I know the balcony is probably my responsibility but who is responsible for correctly resolution of the drainage problem, as options include drilling straight down which would cause issues with the membrane and apartment below, creating a channel in the lip, but this would just allow the water to drain down the face and probably then back underneath, or installing a new drain at the low point to the outside onto common property, again a membrane issue.

    • Hi Malcolm

      Oooh difficult question. Unfortunately there is no easy answer. The body corporate is responsible for the water membrane and structural integrity between lots and you’re responsible for the tiles on top. Also changes in the channel to drain will affect lower levels. Its a dicey problem.

      Fixing the issue is going to require consultation with your committee as you’ve joint interests here. Hopefully you have an engaged lot who can discuss potential solutions with you. I’d start with the body corporate manager and ask the question you just asked me.

  37. Jennie Greenwell says:

    Hi.
    My strata unit has had an ongoing issue with a new roof that has leaked ever since it was installed 10 years ago and there are now great holes in my ceilings and water coming in in every room. A long court case , which we eventually lost at the cost to each unit owner of about $30000 means that the new roof and any damage is uninsured by the body corporate’s insurance. At last , at the cost of about 20000 in extra levies We are getting a new roof and new
    Ceilings. I will have to move out and have all my possessions in storage while the ceilings are replaced. Does the body corporate have to pay for the storage and will they pay for the ceilings to be painted. The new ceilings will be plasterboard replacing painted vermiculite

    • Hi Jennie

      That is a horrible story. Just awful.

      I don’t know the answer to your question I’m afraid. Insurance would usually cover both the repairs and the loss of rent or temporary accommodation and at a guess I’d say yes to storage as well. I’ve not seen that anywhere though. Usually the insurance covers the repair work even if the damage is caused by a building defect in the roof.

      I’d at least send them the bill, particularly if its only you, or you and a couple of others, affected. If everyone in the scheme is everyone should pay their own way.

  38. Graeme Ritchie says:

    Hello Lisa,

    I contacted you a while back regarding regarding ownership of copper water pipes. This is going to conciliation soon.
    I have another episode with the committee which maybe you can make clear to me.
    Last Annual General Meeting there were 4 committee members voted in. The next Annual General Meeting is in 5 weeks time.
    The committee held a Voting Outside Committee Meeting and decided on eight motions to be presented to owners at the AGM.
    They also introduced 2 new committee members making a total of 6 committee members.
    Looking at the legislation it states that the number of committee members must remain the same between Annual General Meetings.
    Bodies corporate must choose a committee at each annual general meeting.
    ‘Once the committee has been elected the body corporate must keep the same number of members for the rest of the year. The body corporate cannot increase or decrease the number of people on the committee until the next annual general meeting.’
    What are your thoughts on this Lisa? One of the new members will be involved in the conciliation process.

    • Hi Graeme

      I agree. Only the combined lot owners may appoint a committee member. The Committee may replace a member if another leaves but not appoint additional members.

  39. Wayne Collins says:

    Hi Lisa,
    I am the owner of a strata unit with a tiled roof top balcony. Due to the age of the building the waterproof membrane under the tiles has started to break down and requires replacement. The tiles and waterproofing are common property and the strata committee have obtained quotes to perform the work. One solution they are considering is to not replace the balcony tiles. They are proposing a painted waterproof concrete finish. As this balcony air space is part of my title and is only accessed by my unit I beleive a painted finish will reduce the appearance and value of my unit. It may also reduce the insulative properties of the roof top making an already hot unit hotter in summer. Am I able to insist that the maintenance of the common property includes the reinstatement of floor tiles as that is what is currently there now?

    • Hi Wayne

      Oooh, tricky question. Unfortunately I’m not sure of the answer. It sounds like a question for an Adjudicator. Their findings on who is responsible for what in exclusive use areas is often surprising. Check with the Office Commissioner Body Corporate for more clarity.

      It makes sense that you should have some input here, particularly if as you say the repairs would reduce the value of your lot.

      Tiles on balconies are lot owner responsibility and the membrane underneath common property. I understand in this case that the tiles have to be removed to deal with the membrane, but if money is the key problem for the committee maybe offering to redo the tiles or otherwise contribute might make them more likely to bargain.

      Just a thought; I’d certainly pursue full knowledge of your rights first.

  40. Graeme Ritchie says:

    Hello Lisa,

    I have a conciliation session occurring with the body corporate in a few days mostly about the following legislation;
    (3) Despite anything in subsections (1) and (2)—

    (a) the body corporate is not responsible for maintaining fixtures or fittings installed by the occupier of a lot if they were installed for the occupier’s own benefit; and
    (b) the owner of the lot is responsible for maintaining utility infrastructure, including utility infrastructure situated on common property, in good order and condition, to the extent that the utility infrastructure—
    relates only to supplying utility services to the owner’s lot; and
    is 1 of the following types—
    hot-water systems
    washing machines
    clothes dryers
    another device providing a utility service to a lot; and

    Is a toilet considered a device providing a utility service to a lot and if so, is the lot owner responsible for pipes servicing the toilet cistern and sewerage drainage pipes leaving the toilet?

    • Hi Ritchie

      I would assume so. I certainly can’t think of any circumstances why toilets would be excluded. They’re for the lot owners use only.

  41. Hello Lisa,
    I am a caretaker for a strata with 60 lots. The BCC is trying to tell me it’s my responsibility to remove trees/plants that are over 3 meters tall.
    My understanding is that this would require someone with qualifications in chainsaws and tree felling to do?
    If this is not the right forem please try and point me in the right direction.

    • Hi

      Check your contract. Most Caretaking Agreements have a “height” or “dangerous works” clause to clearly outline who is responsible for what.

  42. Hi

    There is a large tree situated on my lot on a Queensland strata allotment of 6 apartments. Whose responsibility and cost does this relate too – the Body Corporate or myself.

    Peter

  43. Tracey Heers says:

    Is a linen cupboard inside a unit the responsibility of body corporate i.e. the linen cupboard was damaged in a flood caused by an old hot water system (situated in the cupboard) that exploded.
    Would body corporate insurance be likely to pay for the repair of the cupboard.

    • Hi Tracey

      The body corporate is not responsible for anything inside the lot. You should still try to make a claim under the body corporate insurance assuming they have Lot Owners Fixtures & Improvements insurance, which most will have.

      Talk to your manager or Secretary.

  44. Hi, really good read and information and great to find a place to get some advice. I wanted to ask about a parking cage within a common car park. Our parking cage needs repairs, and is a safety issue for the complex. It won’t stay up when in the up position and can fall down on someone unsuspectingly. The body corporate management are saying because it only services our unit it is our responsibility. However, I see this as a safety issue for the whole complex, and as we contribute enough to body corporate fees, would think this could be fixed under our agreement. Would appreciate your advice!

    • Hi Shaun

      I think you have a false premise here about levies. The levies are apportionment of costs. Admin fund levies are apportionment of the estimated yearly cost. Sinking fund levies are apportionment of future capital costs. The body corporate isn’t “making money” off lot owners (though for sure the body corporate managers are). The body corporate doesn’t run a business. Its a mechanism for holding and administering joint property with joint funds.

      Costs should only be paid from joint funds if they relate to shared infrastructure, or common property. It is not acceptable for the body corporate to spend joint funds, raised for specific purposes, on repairing any one lot owner’s property. Then everyone would want them too and where do you draw the line?

      You need to find out a little more about your parking cage and where’s it’s located. Check your by-laws and approvals. In most cases permission is granted to a lot owner to install a parking cage in their exclusive use car parking area. Its an extension of your lot therefore your responsibility.

      The parking cage permissions almost always include a clause that the lot owner is responsible for maintaining. Even if the permission wasn’t explicit about maintenance, or its allocated somehow else, legislation requires that lot owners maintain their own lots, and that includes exclusive use areas.

  45. Wayne & Joanne Hedrick says:

    We have a unit in a group of 8 in a body corp complex .
    We noted that body corp paid to have the outside painted ,paining the outside and also the facia on the outside .We noted that there was a small hole in the facia which was pained over as you can see the paint on the truss .We have asked the body corp as to why the facia was not fixed and we have been advised that this is the owners responsibility to have it repaired .
    We believe that because it is on the outside of the property it should be covered by bodycorp .
    What do you think and where do we go from here .

    Thanks
    Wayne & Joanne Hedrick

    • Hi Wayne & Joanne

      It seems logical to me that if the body corporate painted the outside of the facia they are accepting responsibility for maintenance. Repairing a hole would seem to be maintenance.

      I would go back to the committee disputing that it is owner responsibility siting the painting. If they still do not move then your next step will be to submit a motion to committee or general meeting to vote on. If that doesn’t work you could apply for conciliation.

  46. Hi Lisa, I have a two storey unit where the roof is on my title, it is tiled with a glass balustrade around the edge. The committee has decided to re-waterproof all balconies and common areas. Of course the roof is large, in facts its the roof of the whole building and they have said as its on my title and owners are responsible to “Maintain” balconies and other tiled areas so I have to pay to waterproof the roof. Is this right that I personally could be responsible to waterproof and seal all pipes that penetrate the roof eg. sewerage pipes, for the entire roof. Seems a bit unfair to me that I am responsible for it when it serves a purpose to keep weather out of the building. I read in the by-laws as “maintaining balconies and ensure all pot plants are healthy” was to ensure they were clean etc, not actually sealing them are repairing them for failing sealant? What is your view?

    • Hi Naida

      To answer this question I have to make some assumptions about the building. No.1, I’m assuming the scheme is a Building Format Plan and No.2 that the roof covers more than your lot.

      The good news is that the waterproof membrane is generally common property hence body corporate responsibility. Take the balconies for instance. The area is part of the lot, up to the balustrade, and the lot owner is responsible for maintaining. However the boundaries of the lot are in the centre of the walls, floor, ceilings etc. What that means in practice is that the tiles on top of a balcony are lot owner responsibility and the waterproofing membrane below is common property. So re-waterproofing the balconies might require pulling up existing tiles, body corporate does the work to membranes, and the lot owner then is responsible for re-tiling. Even then, it depends on the circumstances.

      Things are more complicated for you because your lot extends onto the roof. Sorting out who is responsible for what is going to be more complex than a simple decree that you pay. I don’t have enough information to give you guidelines on that and it’s probably better to get some clear guidance from the Office Commissioner Body Corporate anyway. If the committee force the issue then Conciliation is going to be your final destination anyway.

      If the scheme is not a BFP, rather a Standard Format Plan, then the roof will be your responsibility. If that’s the case the body corporate has no authority over your property. It will be up to you and whomever shares roof space with you to rectify or not.

  47. Hi
    We are in a residential bldg where 1 floor is commercial tenants. There are two medical clinics and 3 financial planning businesses. The toilets for us and our patients/clients are in the common area. Some patientls have rightly complained that there is no sanitary disposal bin in the ladies toilets. For 2 years the body corp has said it os the owners’ responsibility and the owners say it is the commercial tennant’s responsibility. Can anyone advise? Are we supposed to band together and share the cost? Isn’t that the whole point of the body corporate? To manage common areas?

    • Hi Maria

      The function of the body corporate is to hold property and apportion costs. Costs are apportioned by fairness rather than ‘shares’. There is no automatic assumption that all the owners will share and there is a responsibility for owners to pay for what they use exclusively.

      There should be a Building Management Statement that sets out who is payable for what. The cost of commercial tenancies and residential tenancies can be different.

      It is likely a commercial tenant cost since the facility does not serve the residential lots.

  48. hi, I’m from Darwin northern territory, just have an issue with my neighbors huge tree, we have bodycorp and I want to know what can I do too claim for my concrete damage that the tree has made huge cracks and lifted up tiles. this tree is huge and is really close to the building of the townhouse. it actually looks as though the roots have also gone into the units (through the bricks) should it be a bodycorp issue to rectify the issues? plus the other neighbor has another tree that has now pushed out the fence and looks as though the whole fence will eventually fall on someone.

    • Hi Maria

      I’m not sure the legislation in Darwin but check out this article for QLD legislation. If its a boundary fence then it should be dealt with by the body corporate.

      Fences and trees have their own legislation. I think any damage caused to a lot by a tree from another lot is the responsibility of the person who’s tree it is. You need to speak with both the body corporate committee and the neighbour.

      Failing the neighbour taking responsibility maybe you can claim on insurance.

  49. Hi, thanks for your wonderful website!
    I own a top floor unit in an old block of 20 units. My tenant has advised that the lift has not worked at all for over 12 months and was not reliable enough to get much use for several months prior to that. I was aware there were issues but not until now was I aware it was this drastic! I live in NZ so not able to attend meetings however I called the strata manager who advised the lift needs replacing as it’s too old to service/repair and there was no funds for this. Apparently an informal vote was taken at a meeting and it was decided that nothing would be done about the lift and they would just wait until there were enough funds (which will never happen). Anyway, I’ll basically have no hope re-renting or selling a top floor unit with no lift! I would love any advice you may have for me, but my real question was whether the body corporate CAN actually decide to not replace the lift as it was my understanding was it was a requirement to have a lift if a complex was higher than 3 floors? Is there a government or authoritive body that I can report this to to ensure the building is made to adhear to requirements and subsequently the lift DOES actually get replaced? Should I be seeking legal action or is there ANYTHING I can do at all??? I understand a lift costs hundreds of thousands but it has been an issue for the 15 years I’ve owned the property. Thanks for your help!

    • Hi Lin

      That does not sound good.

      There is no government oversight of bodies corporate. Its a matter of individuals owning property together. Essentially if you want to take legal action you take your fellow owners to specialist body corporate court.

      Before you can make an application for Adjudication you need to have tried to resolve the issue yourself. That means you’re going to need to take some action, demonstrable action, to resolve the issue.

      I suggest you write to the committee asking them to fix the lift. Depending on what response you get you might get a couple of quotes from repair agencies for works, if the scheme hasn’t already, and submit a motion at general meeting.

      It sounds like your scheme has issues with both financing apathy.

      This could be a difficult situation to resolve. I wish you all the best.

  50. Barbara Griggs says:

    I live is unit of 10 apartments (3 levels). The building is 40 years old. The personal balcony if 2 units is showing bubbling on the roof from the balcony up ubove that gets the rain has gone through the cracks and creating bubbling on the roof of the unit below of the outside balcony. This has the potential to create concrete cancer . Who is responsible for the repairs body Corp funds or owners with the bubbling or the unit above there the bubbling is created from ?

    • Hi Barbara

      If water is leaking onto one balcony from another then the water membrane on the balcony could be defective. Its the sort of thing that a plumber or engineer needs to look at and comment on. Water could be getting in from a number of places so you really need to get a professional to check it out.

      If its water membrane then it is body corporate responsibility, unless the lot owner did something to damage. In most cases water ingress from the exterior is going to be body corporate responsibility.

  51. Barbara Griggs says:

    I live is unit of 10 apartments (3 levels). The building is 40 years old. The personal balcony if 2 units is showing bubbling on the roof from the balcony up ubove that gets the rain has gone through the cracks and creating bubbling on the roof of the unit below of the outside balcony. This has the potential to create concrete cancer . Who is responsible for the repairs body Corp funds or owners with the bubbling or the unit above there the bubbling is created from ?

    • Hi Barbara

      If water is leaking onto one balcony from another then the water membrane on the balcony could be defective. Its the sort of thing that a plumber or engineer needs to look at and comment on. Water could be getting in from a number of places so you really need to get a professional to check it out.

      If its water membrane then it is body corporate responsibility, unless the lot owner did something to damage. In most cases water ingress from the exterior is going to be body corporate responsibility.

  52. My water meter is located in a bank of meters some distance away from my unit. The pipe from the meter into my unit passes through common area. Shifting of the concrete sidewalk in the common area caused the pipe leading from my meter into my unit to break, resulting in a large water bill for my unit.
    Am I responsible for the repair bill to the water pipe, and also for the water usage?

    • Hi Gail

      If the damage to the pipe was caused because the body corporate failed to maintain the pathway or land surrounding it, causing the sidewalk to crack, then the responsibility lies with the body corporate.

      Also investigate the possibility of making an insurance claim.

      You can seek a rebate from the water utility if the usage was caused by an underground pipe leak.

  53. hi I have a leaking tap on outside of my townhouse but in my area in the courtyard surrounded by a fence, do I have to pay for this as pipes I think run under slab

    • Hi Denise

      It sounds like it’s either part of your lot or exclusive use, in which case it is your responsibility.

      There might be some confusion about the slab which you should discuss with your body corporate.

  54. Hi Lisa , l live in a block of 24 units , the front facade , facing the road has 5 units, mine being on the cnr, the owner of the middle unit has personnel mental issues and has not maintained her property in many many years,her courtyard that is overgrown with trees, vines and other foliage , which has made it’s way upstairs into her bedroom, not mention windows without glass , broken windows etc etc, she is behind Bodycorp fees by app 5 yes, letters were sent to her, but Fallon on death ears, she has no power connected, am not sure about the water, in 2012 b/c took the matter to vcat , and order was executed. She did not follow thru on her order to clean and maintain the premises, and b/c never followed thru,the problem now is that in June our insurance will expire and the have said they will not reinsure us, we r in trouble, what can we do, also my property is completely self-contained as no part is common ground and l have my own private entry and Parking which is not accessible to anyone, these units were built in 1975 , just the way it was designed back then , wondering can l have my own building insurance, or wat can we do . Cheers. John

    • Hi John

      Oh dear, nasty. Not a good situation at all. The body corporate needs to take action immediately. I’m not even sure what you’d do in this circumstance. I think the scheme needs legal advice. You have to somehow force the sale of the lot. You may end up loosing the overdue levies but at least the scheme will be able to get insured again.

      Possibly even a conversation with the woman’s family or local health care professionals might be needed. What a hassle.

      From you perspective certainly pursue the opportunity to insure yourself. Here in QLD bodies corporate cover the insurance in circumstances where the lots are joint. Free standing lots are insured separately at the lot owners cost. I’m not sure how it works in Victoria but certainly have a discussion with an insurance broker. If you’ve been insured through the body corporate previously then also discuss with them.

  55. Hi
    We live in an apartment on the Gold Coast and the Body Corp are replacing a number of our windows. They will take 4 weeks and will not give us access on safety grounds. Do we have any claim on the Body Corp for the 4 weeks accomodation?
    Thanks

    • Hi Garry

      I’m not sure. The body corporate would not indemnify you; presumably they need to do the works to maintain the common property.

      If you’re a lot owner you could try making a claim for Loss of Rent. If you’re a tenant then you need to discuss with your owner and / or rental agent. I’d possibly talk to the residential tenants authority as well. To make sure your rights are being protected.

  56. Hi Lisa,
    I am an owner in Qld of a unit that is a standard house that was subdivided into two individual lots, with a new house built on one lot and with a common area of a driveway. We don’t share any adjoining walls and each owner owns their own area outside. We have insurance for the common area, that is the driveway. However for insurance for my With insurance do I need to attain strata title style insurance or just the standard insurance. I have mentioned strata title to a few insurance companies who say that they don’t deal with that style.
    Thanks,
    Kathy

    • Hi Kathy

      I’m not an insurance expert I’m afraid, so am not too certain. I agree with you though. Its a freestanding house and should be insured on it’s own merits. The common property insured by the body corporate has no impact on your property.

  57. michelle says:

    There is damage within an apartment (one of twelve) and found to be the box guttering is leaking which the owners corporation repairs and pays for soon after it is reported. The apartment owner then asks for carpet to be replaced as he says the owners corporation should have maintained the guttering. Should the owners corp have known this was a problem or is it enough that it was repaired as soon as told?

    • Hi Michelle

      Here in QLD the body corporate, or owners corporation, would be responsible for the carpets. The damage would not have happened were it not for the leak. Its accidental damage though, source now repaired, so I presume an insurance claim would be made for any damage with the body corporate responsible for the excess.

  58. Help! I have just received a quote from my property manager that they have received from an air conditioning company. The quote is for $11,000 to replace and relocate two air con units in my property. I did not request this quote it was sent from my body corp. apparently all owners in the complex are to change their existing units as they don’t match and the body corp has arranged ‘cheaper’ quotes as the company will do a package deal.
    Now, my air con is working fine and I have no intention of replacing it. Neither do I have $11,000 lying around!!!
    Can I refuse to have this work done?
    What are the consequences?
    If I choose to go ahead, how will the money be collected if I don’t have it?
    Why is the sinking fund not being used?
    I’m at my wits end with this,
    Please help.
    Kenny

    • Hi Kenny

      The key here is whether it’s unreasonable of the body corporate to say to owners, we don’t like the look of your air conditioners, spend $11K to fix. That sounds pretty unreasonable to me.

      But, that is with minimum information. Is looks the real reason this is happening? Is there some other underlying issue?

      Your best bet here is to object to the installation, citing that your air conditioners are fine and there is no reason to change them. You may need to take legal action, by way of adjudication via Office Commissioner Body Corporate. YOU MUST TRY AND SELF-RESOLVE FIRST.

      That means you’re going to have to have discussions with your body corporate. Document everything, when, with, how. Keep copies of correspondence. Find out what’s going on. If it is just about looks then object. If you can talk with other owners and see how they feel about this issue.

      They can try and force the issue by doing the works themselves and then bill you.

      Act quickly here. Find out the full facts. Speak with the Office Commissioner Body Corporate. Make your objections known.

  59. Hi
    We have recently been advised by the body corporate that we need to pay a share for the replacement of timber of balconys. Our town house does not have a balcony so we are reluctant to pay. Can you please advise if the replacement of timber in private balconies Is a body corporate issue or the lot owners responsibility.
    Thank you

    • Hi Tahnee

      It’s difficult to say. You’d need to see the configuration of the plan of the scheme. If it’s a standard format plan and the balconies fall within the boundaries of the lot, then no, its a lot owner issue. If the scheme is a building format plan then things are different and depending on the build of the balcony they might common property.

      The best thing to do is ask the question of your body corporate manager, the group that are most familiar with your scheme. Ask for proof, or reassurance might be a better word, that the balconies are common property and not part of the lot.

  60. We are having defect works. Our balcony garden bed needs to be demolished and new tiles will be laid after waterproofing. The problem is they are not going to retile the entire balcony – so i will have a two tone balcony – is this reasonable / tolerable?

    • Hi John

      It certainly doesn’t sound ideal. Unfortunately that’s really enough information to know with any degree of accuracy. I suggest having an indepth conversation with Office Commissioner Body Corporate to find out whether you’ll have any legal standing to object.

      I’d also suggest a conversation with the body corporate. Let them know, if you haven’t already, that you’re not happy with the idea. That you’d like to have the balcony tiles all be one colour. They may come to the party. There’s also a possibility that you could negotiate some form of getting what you want… so maybe contribute some to the cost of tiles. Or something else.

      The point is discussion and negotiation is necessary before you can take any form of legal action and it might lead to a successful resolution.

  61. Graeme Ritchie says:

    Hello Lisa,

    A while back the body corporate changed body corporate managers.
    The committee conducted a voting outside committee meeting to vote on changing body corporate managers .
    There were 4 committee members but only the chairperson voted and the changes were approved and implemented.
    Is this legal?
    I think the vote should have been conducted at the AGM so all owners could vote.
    If this vote is illegal what should I do about It?

    • Hi Graeme

      Yes the appointment of a body corporate manager is a restricted issue for committee, meaning only the owners may appoint a manager via motion at general meeting.

      The body corporate manager is provisionally appointed, and acting, and unless owners either ratify the decision or enter into a new contract at the next general meeting there can be no valid contract.

      See what happens. If the motion isn’t at the next GM then …?

      Well, what do you want to do? Appoint someone else? Self-manage? Its a window of opportunity for you if you have alternative plans.

  62. I’m the chairperson of a BC of 49 units in Brisbane. One month ago the onsite manager reported an emergency drainage problem with backflow flooding of sewage into common areas apparently from an underground broken pipe. Quotes were quickly obtained, one for around $5,000 which the manager considered lacking in understanding the problem, and another which gave a detailed analysis for a maximum of $20,000 which the manager recommended (major excavation and removal & re-erection of a fence necessary). The BC committe gave go ahead for the max $20,000 option. The job was completed and we have been invoiced for $36,000, the plumber saying he encountered unforeseen issues such as poorly installed pipeage at construction, need for extra gravel, extra time for excavator. At no stage did the BC approve $35,000 or was ever informed of a blow out to the job or the quote during excavation. The onsite manager observed progress of the job and defends everything as being necessary (and seemingly provided approval for continuation with reference to the committee or the BC management company). Can the BC refuse to pay $35,000 and agree to to pay only the quoted $20,000? Will this lead to a legal dispute with the plumber? To what extent is the onsite manager at fault?

    • Hi Dave

      Expenditure approval is done by the committee, or if over the committee spending limit, the owners at general meeting. The Caretaking Agreement might give the Caretaker powers to make expenditure decisions up to a threshold. Alternatively the committee can approve a threshold for the Caretaker to expend without prior approval. In most schemes its $500 or less.

      The Caretaker certainly does not have the power to approve expenditure of $16,000. I don’t know what your committee spending limit is but $36K could easily even exceed that.

      The body corporate has approved $20K. The bill is for nearly double and either the plumber or the Caretaker have exceeded their mandate. This is a legal dispute and you need advice from a lawyer. The responsibility of the Caretaker will be dependent on the terms of your contract and whether or not a breach can be established. Its a question of who is at fault – the Caretaker or the plumber. I can’t answer I’m afraid, its outside my expertise.

      Letting it slide isn’t a good idea either. This is a breach of trust by the Caretaker. You need to be able to rely on your contractor to follow instruction.

      I feel for you Dave. This is a complex situation.

  63. Word Error in my previous query. Should say “the onsite manager seemingly provided approval WITHOUT referring anything to the committee or the BC management company…”

  64. Jane and Rhett says:

    Hi, Lisa

    We have owned a unit in a complex of 9 in Brisbane for a few years. Our lot has a exclusive use area and there are 3 large palm trees in this area. They are over 10 metres tall and provide shade in the summer not only for us but also for our upstairs neighbour. Also they give upstair neighbour some privacy from seeing across from next door neighbour which is at nearly same height as our upstair neighbour.

    We have been picking up the leaves and maintaining this area since we bought this unit.

    Now there are large leaves keep falling down the ground and these trees have become a safety hazard for us. We talked to the committee and they decided this is the body corporate’s responsibility and obtained 3 quotes for these trees’ removal.

    A few week later, we suddenly received a email from the B/C manager which says:
    The lot owner is generally responsible for “exclusive use areas the owner has the benefit of, unless the exclusive use by-law says otherwise”.

    We think these trees were there long before this building were erect about 12 years ago.

    Our question is: Is the removal of these trees a maintenance or improvement to the complex? Who is responsible and has to pay for this?

    Best Regards

    Jane and Rhett

    • Hi Jane and Rhett

      I found this Adjudication Order that relates to your situation. In that order the exclusive use areas had trees that needed to be trimmed. It was found to be the lot owners responsibility.

      This Adjudicators Order is the opposite. Owners chopped down trees in the exclusive use area which was found to be common property and body corporate responsibility.

      The key issue is going to revolve around your scheme’s by-laws, in particular the wording of the exclusive use by-law. In the first order the by-law explicitly stated the owner was responsible for maintaining plants. In the second the by-laws specifically restricted use of the exclusive use, including changing the gardens.

      Review your by-laws, review the Adjudication Orders and then decide which matter relates to your situation. If you don’t feel you are responsible make the argument to your body corporate manager using the Order as support.

      • Jane and Rhett says:

        Thanks Lisa, your reply is very much appreciated.

        I had a look at the first order and found the following in the third paragraph of the conclusion:

        “I also stress that the owner of lot 1 is not required by this Order to remove any of the trees in her exclusive use courtyard”.

        So in case of that any of trees need to be removed I suppose it will be the owner’s responsibility?

        Best Regards

        Rhett

        • Hi Rhett

          Maybe. Its a complex issue. In the first order the by-law exclusively said the owner had to maintain the garden. In the second order the by-law specifically said the exclusive use area couldn’t be changed making it body corporate responsibility

          You need to review your scheme’s by-laws.

  65. Hi there ….I have a property that is going though a dilemma , we had a strong wind that brought down a colour bond fence and a retaining wall between two lots , the The Strata EC say that it is Common Property , I disagree , they have a claim in for Insurance , they the Insurance Co have refused the claim , stating that the fence and retaining wall was in disrepair …..They the EC are making a claim to the Insurance Ombudsmen , have you ever seen such a case …..like to hear from you …

    Regards David

    • Hi David

      You’d need to refer to the plan to see boundaries of common properties and lots. It could be wholly on common property, between common property and a lot or between two lots. With fences the Neighbourhood Fencing Act, or whatever equivalent in your state, applies.

      Retaining walls are tricky. They, usually, benefit one lot more than another: usually the downward partner. It gets even murkier when the retaining wall collapses affecting the fence on top.

      The insurance company is well within their rights to disallow the claim if the wall was in poor repair and I envision the Insurance Ombudsman will say the same.

      I presume you’re wanting the lot owner(s) involved to deal with the issue. If so, consider bringing up your objections with the EC. IF they ignore you and proceed with the works themselves you would need to make a legal objection to the spending of the funds.

  66. If vegetation has been removed because it was past its use by date, should it have been replaced by the Body Corporate without having to go to the committee?

    • Hi Liz

      Every decision should be made by the committee. It is common to see line items for approval of expenditure for anything over $200 in all buildings including huge buildings with million dollar annual budgets.

      Smaller buildings don’t tend to minute their decisions so well because their committee’s don’t meet.

      If there is an onsite Caretaker they may have a spending limit that they can purchase items up to that amount, but that would be an arrangement with the committee.

      If you want something new planted send a request to the committee. Presumably they’ll take action.

  67. Hello
    Through a building inspection my balcony has been deemed dangerous and not to be used. I notified my body corporate over four months ago. They have accepted that it is their responsibility but it is still not fixed. Despite getting three quotes, they refuse to vote and approve on one, instead now wanting to engage a building consultant to analyse all of the units balconies, then get requotes and put a special levy to all owners. I have requested that they just fix mine first and do the others later. I am the only one with a balcony that can’t be used and can’t use the courtyard either as it is barricaded off as the balcony may fall down. I am unable to sell the property or rent it out in current state. I am losing $700/wk rent. What can be done? I have been very persistent explaining the financial cost to me, but they have no urgency.

    • Hi Lisa

      The body corporate is falling down on their responsibilities. You need to seek an Adjudicators Order the balcony be rectified within a fixed time frame, usually 30 – 90 days from date of order. I understand where they’re coming from. Its better to do the whole lot in one go. Your claim is, as you’ve set out, more important as you can’t use the facility and it’s impacting on your financial viability.

      That’s how it seems to me anyway. You can only ever set out your case when it comes to Adjudication, and it might be that the BC is doing enough to be considered they’re moving the issue forward. It will depend on time frames. Discuss with the Office Commissioner Body Corporate dispute resolution department.

      Alternatively see a Solicitor.

  68. Hiie .. Morning …

    Am the owner of a unit which is being maintained under STRATA for common areas as well as for personal areas that includes balconies titles and sheds. I am presently facing issues with the shed as one of the panel is missing and rest are broken which make unbearable noice on windy days …
    And being a new owner I am facing problem in cleaning the titles as they are too dirty and needs machine or some power cleaning.. I have mailed my STRATA manager but she isn’t replying to me … it’s being two weeks now and this is making me impatient now as I have two balconies and both have same condition.
    Do I have some time crunch to pen them down again or should I just wait for her to reply and look in my matter .

    • Hi Prerna

      Be patient here. Two weeks is not a long time in the body corporate realm, especially when the matter is not urgent.

      When you send a letter to the strata manager what should happen is that its immediately passed onto the committee. They will then consider your request, decide if the matter relates to common property and direct the strata manager to reply. Correspondence doesn’t necessarily get answered immediately. Instead the committee may wait until they meet again.

      You can keep trying to get in touch with the strata manager. Be aware that she cannot make any sort of decision. They’re just gatekeepers and any response is up to the committee.

      Be patient and if you don’t get any response at the end of a month follow up again.

  69. Hi we have a block of 8 units all ground level 1 water pipe for all of them. There is one owner in which has a small leakage at the hot water system pipe at his unit is it body corporate responsibility to pay for this. If yes and one of the managers says no what is the best way to go by it have a vote?

    • Hi Joanne

      I’m not entirely clear on what you mean by one water pipe for all. One pipe that feeds from the main to all units sounds a terribly inefficient system.

      In most cases there is one main water pipe. Each unit must then connect to the main to pipe water into their lot.

      The main is body corporate responsibility. The connection is the responsibility of each lot owner, even if the leak is on common property, if its shown to be in their connection. If the leak is within the lot in majority cases it will be lot owner responsibility to repair.

      The body corporate should instruct the lot owner to repair giving them a time frame to complete. It should not pay for repairs to a lot.

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