A Qld lot owner is concerned about whether major works like the painting of the building should be proceeding during the Coronavirus crisis. Chris Irons, Hynes Legal provides the following response.
Question: Due to lack of communication from the committee, I’ve lost rental income as major works started during a Short Term Letting stay. Also, should major works like the painting of the building be proceeding during the Coronavirus crisis? I don’t feel the work is essential.
A couple of months ago I was contacted by the Committee to approve the rendering and painting of our 6 unit complex. After that, I heard nothing and carried on as usual with short term rental of my unit.
Recently while chatting with a committee member I was asked if I was ready for the following week as the rendering process was to begin. I immediately informed my tenant and asked the committee member if access to the unit would be needed. I was told as they would be using a lift machine and no internal access was needed.
Three days into the work (during government lockdown and isolation) my tenant rang me and said they were unable to continue their stay. One of the main reasons being they had a baby and the noise of the lift machine was too much as they were stopping and starting constantly. At the time I was nearby and indeed agreed with him it was a major disruption. The guests left the next day which meant I lost nearly $4000 on the booking.
I feel if I was informed well beforehand of the upcoming date, process involved and duration, I could have better planned the nature regarding occupancy Of my unit.
I also thought it strange the committee was going ahead after the government had called for a lockdown and social distancing in a densely populated Neighbourhood with mostly retired citizens at home.
Answer: I’d be putting your concerns to the committee and requesting a response.
Bodies corporate and thus, by extension, committees, have an obligation to act reasonably. It might be argued that it was reasonable for the committee to give you a bit of notice about the work to be done in order to give you tenant some appropriate notice. Did you get minutes of the committee decision regarding the rendering? It really should have been noted in there about the work to be done.
Ultimately, though, if your question is about the lost income from the cancelled booking then you will need to seek legal advice and/or pursue the matter through perhaps a civil proceeding. The Commissioner’s Office typically does not have jurisdiction to consider issues such as loss of rent or income.
On the question of the appropriateness of the work during COVID-19, it would be a question of whether this is considered ‘essential’ – it seems that the government is looking at work in terms of essential v non-essential. Without knowing the specific circumstances of your building it’s hard to say, although on face value rendering and painting don’t seem ‘essential’. Then again, if social distancing practices were maintained throughout the work, perhaps it was appropriate for it to occur.
I’d be putting your concerns to the committee and requesting a response.
This post appears in Strata News #336.
Have a question about major works being carried out during the Coronavirus crisis or something to add to the article? Leave a comment below.
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