This question about arranging residents working bees has been answered by Tony Overell, The Knight.
Question: What are or aren’t residents permitted to do in common areas? How can we arrange residents working bees to clean and secure areas that are not covered on maintenance contracts without stepping on the Owners Corporation toes?
If you have enjoyed this Q&A post and would like to be kept informed about strata matters, click here to subscribe to our weekly newsletter.
What are or aren’t residents permitted to do in common areas?
I completely understand that we are not to clean or rectify any areas that are under contract. However, are we permitted to clean drains, pits or other areas that may become a flood problem or potential hazard? Especially after notification from Strata that residents should check common area drains, due to expected extreme weather conditions in the forth coming days – towards the end of 2017.
This actually occurred and two of the residents discovered an external drain pit (within the common area boundaries) that was partially blocked with concrete slurry. They cleaned the drain and reported it to the builder and Owners Corporation chair, only to be advised (by the Owners Corporation chairperson) that what they did was unauthorised by the Owners Corporation and that we were not to do it again without the chair or Strata’s permission.
AS you can imagine, we are now completely confused, on what we can and cannot do in the future, to help prevent a possible flood or damage to this complex.
The information we are looking for is how we can arrange residents working bees to clean and secure areas that are not covered on maintenance contracts.
Answer: Whilst you undertook the cleaning with all good intentions there may be unintended consequences of such actions.
Whilst you undertook the cleaning with all good intentions there may be unintended consequences of such actions.
There are a variety of events that could occur relating to residents completing unauthorised maintenance works on Common Property, which may include insurance ramifications if something goes wrong. For example, it is possible that by removing the slurry from the drain it may have in the process broken the pipe which would then incur further costs to the Owners Corporation to rectify. There may also be implications if you undertake works on Common Property that may be subject to a defect claim with the original builder (if the building is within its warranty period).
It is always worth asking the question of the Chairperson or Owners Corporation Manager (as the case may be) prior to commencing any works so that appropriate approvals are granted. A simple phone call should resolve the matter pretty quickly for minor items.
In saying the above if there is a potential Health and Safety hazard on Common Property you should immediately notify the Owners Corporation Manager and if safe to do so and within your capabilities, take action to remove the risk or isolate the area until a qualified person arrives to attend to the matter.
Moving forward you should, as a group, put forward a proposal to your Owners Corporation with your idea to arrange regular working bees, stating the tasks you would include in such activities and the areas in which you will conduct them. Your Owners Corporation should then provide you feedback as to the appropriateness of such an idea given that they may have a more broader overview of the requirements of the property and insight into other activates being undertaken concurrently.
It is always good to see groups of engaged residents working together for the betterment of the property and it should always be encouraged in my view as it builds community not to mention the cost savings, hopefully your Owners Corporation feels the same way.
This post appears in Strata News #178.
This article is not intended to be personal advice and you should not rely on it as a substitute for any form of advice.