Can strata refuse to repair a phone line, stating it is not required for medical or emergency purposes? This response has been provided by Gary Phillips, StrataGP.
Question: The phone line to our unit is damage within common property space. Strata refuse to repair the phone line stating it is not required for any medical or emergency purpose. Is this right?
We own a unit which, until recently, had a working telephone line. After some problems with internet connection, we had the line within the unit repaired, only to find that it is the section of the line outside of our unit, in the roof or beyond, which is faulty. Neighbouring units have no problem so it appears it is only the line into our unit which has deteriorated.
Establishing it is the responsibility of the strata, we asked to have the line repaired. Strata agreed this part of the line is the strata’s responsibility.
Members of the Council of Owners have visited the tenants and now inform us that, since the tenants do not require Silver Chain or other medical/emergency support, they will not repair the line.
Our tenants are very unhappy and asking us to fix the damage so they can get use the phone line or get NBN. NBN is available to the complex – FTTN. Some units are already connected.
Can strata refuse to repair the line, or are they required to carry out the repair as it is common property?
Answer: The Council of Owners do not have the authority to defer from their responsibilities under the act.
As the strata manager has acknowledged that the phone line in common property space is strata property (and accepting that this follows careful research), as such it would form part of common property that is the strata companies responsibility to repair, maintain and replace under section 35 of the Strata Titles Act 1985. The Council of Owners does not have the authority to defer from their responsibilities under the act.
The fact that the line is not needed for Silver Chain or other like support services does not remove the strata companies duty of care to provide them in place common property service. There are other emergency services that the line may be required for, Police, Ambulance and FESA spring to mind and then there is also emergency contact for other reasons family, accident, breakdown that all may be thwarted by the service not being in place.
Saying the occupants have a mobile is not an answer. It does not remove the strata companies responsibility and consider the case of lost mobile signal, malfunction or flat battery.
The occupants could have a reasonable expectation that the phone line that was functioning previously would continue to do so now after advising the strata company of the fault.
This post appears in Strata News #203.
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