NSW lot owners are concerned about the process to repair their leaky roofs.
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- QUESTION: Due to recent storm events there was water ingress from common areas into my apartment, damaging floorboards. What is the process to fix the damage?
- QUESTION: Can the owners corporation fix my neighbour’s leaking verandah?
- QUESTION: Question: What steps do we take to organise a leaky roof repair? What if some owners refuse to pay?
- QUESTION: Why am I required to fund my neighbour’s leaky roof repair?
Question: Due to recent storm events there was water ingress from common areas into my apartment, damaging floorboards. What is the process to fix the damage?
Due to recent storm events (driving rain and winds), there was water ingress from common areas (under the front door) into my apartment damaging floorboards. My front door is located on an outside walkway that is a common area as it provides access to 4 units.
I’ve contacted my strata managers various times within the last week (since discovering the damage), however, I’m still waiting for their response and action to the matter.
I was advised they need to organise a plumber to inspect if there are any burst pipes and a roofer to check for leaks. As part of my enquiries and various phone calls and email, I kept advising that no pipes or leaks are visible as there is no water damage or continued water seepage from pipes or on the ceiling.
Can you please advise the process moving forward to fix the damage? and if Strata or the building insurance should repay and pay for the damage as the front door does not provide a full seal.
Answer: In the case of water damage claims, generally insurers will require the cause of the leak to be repaired before repairs commence for consequential water damage.
In the case of water damage claims, generally insurers will require the cause of the leak to be repaired before repairs commence for consequential water damage.
If the claim is as straight forward as the questioner is suggesting, usually an explanation of the event (i.e. water ingress under the front door from heavy rains) and an invoice showing the door seal has been put on the door should be sufficient for a claim to proceed. However, if the source of the leak is unknown or there is concern the leaks will continue, action should be taken to appoint an appropriate trades person to address why water is entering the building – this can include engaging specialist leak detector companies.
Once the leak issue is addressed, the lot owner needs to understand which policy provides cover between the strata insurance & lot owners contents/landlords insurance.
If the flooring is a temporary or floating floor, it is only covered by strata if the policy specifically covers floating floors. The Strata Management Act does not require an owners corporation to insure temporary/floating floors, however some insurers automatically provide cover or have an optional benefit for floating floors. If it is not covered by the strata insurance policy, the lot owner will need to claim on their contents/landlords insurance policy.
If you are claiming on the strata policy this can be done by claiming through the strata manager, broker or insurer. If it is a contents/landlords claim then the owner will need to contact their insurer.
Question: Can the owners corporation fix my neighbour’s leaking verandah?
My mother’s apartment has a flat above her whose verandah area is partly over her lounge and for the last year has been suffering due to the upstairs verandah leaking through her roof.
They are new owners who recently renovated the verandah and since then it has leaked.
The Strata company don’t appear to be doing anything, supposedly some repairs were done recently but the roof still leaks.
How can get things moving to resolve the leak? My Mother is about to return home after being in hospital and is absolutely devastated that nothing has been done. She is 85 and this is her home, which is becoming unliveable!
Answer: While the exact cause of the balcony leakage is unknown, this is likely an issue with the common property.
The owners corporation must properly maintain and keep in a state of good and serviceable report the common property in accordance with section 106 of the Strata Schemes Management Act 2015 (the Act). While the exact cause of the balcony leakage is unknown, this is likely an issue with the common property.
In addition, the provisions of the by-laws and building management statement, if any, should also be taken into account as they may impose more specific requirements in addition to the general requirements under the Act.
Who has responsibility for the ongoing maintenance of a renovated balcony/verandah?
It is unclear what kind of renovation has occurred and whether prior approval by the owners corporation is required (and obtained).
If there was a special resolution approving the renovation under section 108 of the Act that specifies that the ongoing maintenance of the balcony after its renovation is to be the responsibility of the owner, instead of the owners corporation, then it is up to your neighbour to fix the leakage.
However the more likely scenario is that the renovations were completed either without owners corporation approval, or with a special by-law registered to the effect that the owner of the lot undertaking renovation work indemnifies the owners corporation for any liabilities arising from the renovation. If that is the case, the primary person responsible for fixing the issue, as far as all other owners in the strata scheme are concerned, would still be the owners corporation.
Consequences of the owners corporation not fulfilling their duty to maintain and repair common property
According to section 106 of the Act, an owner of a lot in a strata scheme may recover from the owners corporation, as damages for breach of statutory duty, any reasonably foreseeable loss suffered by the owner as a result of a contravention of this section by the owners corporation. It may, however, be difficult to quantify the loss associated with the general unpleasantness of the water leakage and the consequent limited use/enjoyment of part of the units.
You may also consider joining the strata managing agent to any claim that you may have against the owners corporation if the managing agent has not fulfilled its duties.
- Review previous minutes for general meetings to find out if there is any special by-law that was proposed for your neighbour’s renovated verandah.
- If there is no by-law that negates the owners corporation’s obligations then write to the strata manager and the secretary requesting their immediate action to fix the leakage and/or propose a motion for an upcoming general meeting for the issue to be attended to and that the contract with the current strata manager not to be renewed and another strata manager appointed.
- If the matter remains unresolved, you can lodge an application for mediation with NSW Fair Trading or start proceedings in NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal.
This post appears in the August 2020 edition of The NSW Strata Magazine.
Question: What steps do we take to organise a leaky roof repair? What if some owners refuse to pay?
I purchased into a medium sized strata scheme earlier in the year. This is our first experience living in strata. I am now the chairperson of the scheme.
Our roof leaks and is in need of repair. Is a leaky roof repair something that usually falls to the committee, or in most circumstances would the strata manager handle the roof repair? There is hardly any money in the sinking fund, so lot owners will have to contribute. How do we go about raising the amount and what do we do about the lot owners who refuse to put their hand in their pocket?
I guess if there is a recalcitrant owner who doesn’t pay, the Strata Manager should sue the owner and if after all the other following proceedings no payment is made the owner would be subject to bankruptcy and the unit sold.
Is it possible to provide a step by step plan of how we can accomplish the leaky roof repair? I’m at a loss as to how we proceed.
Answer: The roof repairs will be common property and a repair that jointly the Executive Committee and the appointed Strata Manager would arrange for its repair.
The roof repairs will be common property and a repair that jointly the Executive Committee and the appointed Strata Manager would arrange for its repair. Subject to the delegated duties of the Strata Manager, generally Repairs and Maintenance such as a leaky roof repair fall under the agreed services of a Strata Manager.
The Strata Manager will generally assist with the process of sourcing quotes, making the necessary enquiry etc. on behalf of the committee, however, the decisions and instructions will remain the responsibility of the committee and owners.
First, an expert should be engaged to inspect and determine the scope of repairs required to address the issues with the roof, upon a scope being finalised and agreed to, tenders for repairs should than be obtained.
Once tenders are obtained, a meeting of the Owners Corporation should be held to consider the tenders and raise funds if there isn’t enough surplus in the sinking fund. Following the approval and raising of funds, work can commence on the leaky roof repair.
The raising of funds via a special levy can only be considered at a general meeting. 50% of owners present and entitled to vote will need to be in favour of a special levy for the motion to be passed. Therefore both the special levy and tenders should be referred to a general meeting as each motion will be subject to another, i.e. funds are required only if the works are approved.
If the special levy and approval of works is not passed by owners, and the roof repairs are essential to maintain the common property, the Owners Corporation will then be in breach of its obligations under Section 106 of the Strata Schemes Management Act 2015, which states:
106 Duty of owners corporation to maintain and repair property
- An owners corporation for a strata scheme must properly maintain and keep in a state of good and serviceable repair the common property and any personal property vested in the owners corporation.
- An owners corporation must renew or replace any fixtures or fittings comprised in the common property and any personal property vested in the owners corporation.
- This section does not apply to a particular item of property if the owners corporation determines by special resolution that:
- it is inappropriate to maintain, renew, replace or repair the property, and
- its decision will not affect the safety of any building, structure or common property in the strata scheme or detract from the appearance of any property in the strata scheme.
The process for debt recovery is the same for all levy types, ordinary and special levies.
This post appears in Strata News #114.
Question: Why am I required to fund my neighbour’s leaky roof repair?
I am in a strata with 12 units. The front 8 units are at least 25 years older than the back 4 units, which I own one of.
Currently we have the situation where the front 8 need their roof replaced (the front 8 are all attached, the back four are completely separate to them) and of course, there is not enough in the sinking fund to cover this. So the strata have called for all owners to put in $3000 to top up the sinking fund to cover the leaky roof repair expense.
We are currently getting this organised, but it has been frustrating me that the back four owners have to pay for the leaky roof repair when we have nothing to do with this section of the strata scheme. Our roof is not being touched and we get no benefit from this.
I certainly agree that their roof needs replacing and I don’t want to stand in the way of them getting this done, but selfishly, I don’t see why I am required to pay for this.
What are the usual strata rules in this scenario, where there is a significant age difference between units, and certain units need building works, and others do not?
Answer: If all lots are under one strata scheme, all owners of that strata scheme will be responsible to contribute to the common property repairs.
If all 12 lots, i.e. the 8 front units and 4 back units are under one strata scheme, then all owners of that strata scheme will be responsible to contribute to the common property repairs.
The Strata Scheme Management Act requires the Owners Corporation under 106 to repair and maintain common property. It is not based on if all owners use the area or benefit from the subject roof space but where an area is deemed to be common property the owners corporation are liable to repair and maintain.
The roof is generally common property unless there is a special bylaw transferring responsibility back to a lot owner(s) or if the Owners Corporation have especially resolved to divest of their responsibility pursuant to Section 106 (3) of the Strata Schemes Management Act 2015 wherein the Owners Corporation have determined that it is inappropriate for the Owners Corporation to maintain, renew or replace or repair or the roof areas.
Therefore, in summary, the Special levy if raised to cover the leaky roof repair requires consent by the majority of owners at a general meeting, the total amount will be levied to each owner according to the unit entailments. Your contribution will be calculated based on your unit entitlement.
Have a question about leaky roofs or something to add to the article? Leave a comment below.
- NSW: Home Building Act Statutory Warranties – What is the Two Year Warranty for Non Structural Defects Worth?
- If It Has a Balcony, It Will Leak
This article is not intended to be personal advice and you should not rely on it as a substitute for any form of advice.
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