An NSW Lot Owner is wondering whether they should be providing access to the fuse box in their apartment building. Leanne Habib of Premium Strata and Dino Biordi of Luna Management have provided the following response.
Question: For some reason, I have a key to the communal Fuse Box in our apartment building and I have been providing access for tenants who trip their fuse. I’m just trying to help. Why is this a problem?
I’m based in NSW and the fuse box in our apartment building is located in the communal stairwell. It contains all of the fuses for the apartments.
This cupboard is locked and most tenants don’t have a key. I have a key – not sure how I acquired one, I think it was provided when we bought the apartment.
We have recently been opening the fuse box in our apartment building for tenants who tripped the fuse or need access.
Another person on the strata committee has advised that I’m not supposed to have a key to the fuse box and I should not be providing access to tenants. According to the Committee member, tenants should be calling the electrician who has a universal key.
Is this correct? It seems unreasonable that a tenant should have to call an electrician and pay the callout fee just so the Electrician can flip a tripped fuse switch.
Answer: Fortunately, the strata manager has issued a notice to comply with the peaceful enjoyment bylaw as the owners corporation should be enforcing the by-laws.
Dino Biordi: Off the bat, it’s not the best electrical design/installation if individual fuse boxes in the apartment building are located within a common area space albeit I have seen this on other schemes.
What needs to be established is:
- Is the room/cupboard labelled or set as a plant room? If so, residents (people without safety knowledge) should not have access into this area.
- If indeed this area is safe and suitable for the residents to enter, this needs Strata Committee approval or a By-Law to avoid neighbourly disputes (the blame game) if residents accidentally affecting other apartments power source.
These measures seem ridiculous until someone is severely injured or death occurs through electrocution.
Leanne Habib: Usually, no-one is given the key for WH&S reasons – if unlicensed persons enter into the main switch room, this can result in a wrong switch(es) etc being turned, electrocution and so on.
Technically, you do not have rights to access or grant access to the common property fuse box in the apartment building and the key belongs to the owners corporation (though you are trying to be helpful to your neighbours and inadvertently acquired the key).
We also consider it harsh to expect tenants to call out electricians merely to flip a tripped switch – however, there are liability issues you may be exposing yourself and the owners corporation to.
This post appears in Strata News #217.
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These articles are not intended to be personal advice and you should not rely on it as a substitute for any form of advice.