We received this question from a WA strata tenant about liability concerning a car damaged in a strata car park. The following response has been provided by Whitbread Insurance Brokers.
Question: A roof leak in the strata car park has caused significant damage to my car, corroding paint work, as well as corroding and staining accessories that I have had added to the car. Who is responsible for the cost of the repair?
Just looking for a little advice/clarification if you are able.
I am a tenant living in an apartment complex which has an underground strata car park.
During last year’s storms, the roof of the car park leaked all over the place, in storerooms and on cars.
The leak over my car bay caused significant damage to my car, corroding paintwork, as well as corroding and staining accessories that I have had added to the car.
I have sent a letter of demand off to both the strata and the real estate property manager stating what the costs of repair are and that I am currently holding all parties (strata/real estate agency/ owner) accountable.
This failed to achieve the desired resolution with no one taking responsibility.
I am now looking to take this case to court, but to do so I need to know who is actually accountable to pay for the damages. Are you able to tell me who is accountable in such instances, or point me in the right direction to find more?
Answer: Taking the parties to court should be the last resort.
- Motor Vehicle Insurance
In the first instance, we would generally recommend lodging an insurance claim with your car insurer to promptly repair the damage as quickly as possible. The damage would be taken care of, and the responsibility would lie with your car insurer to pursue the relevant ‘accountable’ party(ies) for the associated recovery costs. By using the car insurer, you would be able to avoid the expense and hassle associated with taking another party to court.
- Letters of Demand, accountability & next steps
To point you in the right direction regarding accountability, it is very difficult to give a clear-cut answer as it really all depends on a number of factors i.e. the specific circumstances of the ‘event’, the reason(s) why it is believed the parties mentioned are responsible, and also the response to the Letters of Demand from each recipient.
Although unclear in this situation, it is reasonable to expect that the Letter of Demand sent to the Owners Corporation would be sent on to the Liability insurer as a potential claim notification. Based on this assumption, prior to going to court, we encourage you to ensure all avenues are exhausted with the respective liability insurers. Taking the parties to court should be the last resort. If the insurer is aware of the potential claim, it is likely they will want to avoid costs associated with the court system and reach a resolution before this point.
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Please note this Q&A response is not intended to be personal advice and you should not rely on it as a substitute for any form of advice. Please contact Whitbread Associates Pty Ltd ABN 69 005 490 228 Licence Number: 229092 trading as Whitbread Insurance Brokers for further information.
This post appears in Strata News #125