This article about how strata can deal with any faults in your apartments has been provided by Steve Jovcevski, Mozo.
If you’re an apartment owner, or about to become one, you might be worried about the string of fault-riddled apartments that have appeared in the media recently. Prior to the building boom these weren’t so talked about, but now that they’ve come to light people are rightfully concerned.
In fact, recent research conducted by Mozo found that building defects have cost homeowners $10.5 billion in the past ten years. While buying a home remains a big part of the Australian dream, it looks like many are unprepared for the many problems that will plague them down the track.
When it comes to addressing faults – both big and small – strata plays an important role, and will be a key point of contact for anyone who owns an apartment. Here’s how to effectively make use of them if you’re staring down any problems.
What can strata do about building faults?
One thing strata should be doing fairly regularly is carrying out inspections. If there are any issues, they’ll need to be rectified as quickly as possible. Some things – like waterproofing issues – get worse over time if you don’t address them.
Regular maintenance is also key. Small things like leaves piling up in gutters can block the drains, and if water seeps into the apartment it can lead to a bad case of black mould, which can be very difficult (and costly) to get rid of.
Whenever problems like these come up, you should notify strata as soon as you’re able. They will have to be fixed using the sinking fund (or Capital Works Fund), which is set aside for repairs and maintenance. If there’s not enough money in the fund then you might be asked to contribute as a part-owner.
If we’re looking at major faults, however, there’s not much that strata can do. The only real option is to monitor the problems and try to get on top of things early on by contacting the builder. The sooner you can get to the builder the better because many have a habit of disappearing within a year or two.
If the builder or the developer are no longer solvent, the owners will have to shoulder the cost of any repairs. And the problem with that is while you might be able to afford it, other owners might not. If everyone comes up short then the problems don’t get fixed and the value of the property goes down.
How can strata help homebuyers and new homeowners?
If you’re looking to buy an apartment, the strata minutes are the best way to learn everything about it. They will fill you in on all the issues that are being talked about – big and small. If strata refuses to give you the minutes, then you shouldn’t buy the property. It’s as simple as that.
If it’s a brand new apartment you’ll probably be able to get your hands on a list of known defects too. This is provided by the developer to the builder, who will usually have 12 months to go about fixing them.
If you’ve just bought a property and have any issues you feel need to be addressed, it’s crucial that you ask strata to include them. If for some reason the builder doesn’t fix them, then technically strata can manage the repairs and charge the builder.
Plenty of people take a hands-off approach because they think strata has it all covered, but I wouldn’t rely solely on them. Whether you do it yourself or ask the strata to do it, it’s a good idea to hire a building consultant who specialises in building defects. For a few thousand dollars they can inspect the building (and even the surrounding area) and provide a detailed report. It’s money well-spent.
This post appears in Strata News #286
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This article is not intended to be personal advice and you should not rely on it as a substitute for any form of advice.
Have a question about how strata can help with building faults or something to add to the article? Leave a comment below.