This article is about window safety requirements in QLD body corporate buildings.
Table of Contents:
- QUESTION: We are a mix of owner occupiers and holiday let units. Over the past year, many units have had their door locks/lever sets replaced. Is the owner or body corporate responsible for the cost?
- QUESTION: I had to replace our garage door running track. We are lot owners. I have submitted the paid account to our body corporate manager for reimbursement. The strata manager is avoiding the issue. Am I responsible for this cost, or is the body corporate?
- QUESTION: We have purchased a rooftop apartment with skylights. These were built on the original building plans. Who is responsible for the upkeep or any damage to them?
- QUESTION: During weather events, our old building leaks through the windows leading onto private access balconies. Who is responsible for the repairs?
- QUESTION: Who is responsible for the cost of repairs of sliding doors on the outside walls of a unit leading to a ground floor exclusive use private garden? They cause ingress of water to the main bedroom every time it rains.
- QUESTION: One wall in our building has a mixture of lot owner and common property windows. All experience leaks. Can the body corporate pay for repairs to one lot’s windows as a test case for the repair of other windows on this wall?
- QUESTION: Are there legal requirements for an existing body corporate building in Queensland to have safety screens or window locks fitted to windows above 2m?
Question: We are a mix of owner occupiers and holiday let units. Over the past year, many units have had their door locks/lever sets replaced. Is the owner or body corporate responsible for the cost?
Answer: In a building format scheme, the lock to the entry door is considered part of the boundary of the property and is body corporate responsibility.
If you are in a building format scheme, the lock to the entry door is considered part of the boundary of the property and is body corporate responsibility.
If the locks are damaged or broken, the body corporate has a responsibility to repair and maintain them.
Responsibility for assessing and arranging the repair of these locks may fall within the responsibilities of your caretaker under the terms of their agreement, so it doesn’t seem unreasonable that they are doing this.
Invoices for repairs should be submitted to the committee of your scheme – most likely to be approved by the treasurer and perhaps one other member. It’s up to them to assess if the costs are fair and necessary.
If you think the repairs aren’t required, it may be necessary to question the caretaker. If you are on the committee, you could raise this matter with other members, and perhaps the caretaker could be asked to submit photos or a written report from the attending locksmith as to the necessity to change the locks. Maybe these have already been presented. Perhaps the committee could require the caretaker to change the locksmith if it was felt a different opinion would be beneficial.
If you are not on the committee, you could write to them asking why there have been so many recent changes. There may be a simple explanation. If no response is forthcoming, you could submit an owners motion requiring a fuller explanation.
If you are unsure, the general way to think about these issues is to ask the relevant parties. If a reasonable answer comes back, hopefully, you will be satisfied. If people don’t answer or are defensive, perhaps there is something more to the issue, and you can follow up.
Lastly, if your building is a standard format plan, the maintenance of locks will most likely be owner’s responsibility. If costs for replacement have been made, there may be a bigger problem, and you may need to escalate the issue.
This post appears in Strata News #680.
Question: I had to replace our garage door running track. We are lot owners. I have submitted the paid account to our body corporate manager for reimbursement. The strata manager is avoiding the issue. Am I responsible for this cost, or is the body corporate?
Answer: Responsibility for the costs of repairing the door will depend on whether it is common property or not.
Responsibility for the costs of repairing the door will depend on whether it is common property or not.
Multiple factors can affect this, including what module your scheme is in, where the boundaries of your property are and any by-laws your scheme may have.
If unsure, you should get a copy of your CMS and by-laws and check the details against the relevant guide for responsibilities provided by the Commissioner’s office. See the link below for further information.
Still, providing this advice is generally part of the body corporate manager’s job. They should be able to make it clear to both you and the committee who is responsible for the expense. It’s a routine request, and most of the time, the body corporate should be able to provide a definite answer supported by relevant documentation. If the situation is unclear, they should be able to provide reasons why and possible pathways for resolution.
I’m unsure what you mean when you say the manager is ‘avoiding the issue’. Are they just not responding to you, or are they being evasive in not talking about the matter? Have they not given you an answer because they don’t have one from the committee, or have they not presented the issue to the committee?
Whatever the situation, it seems there are two separate issues here: the reimbursement and the performance of the body corporate manager.
For the reimbursement, you could push forward the issue by contacting the committee directly or submitting an owners motion to the committee for them to vote on the approval. If you do this, they have to decide within six weeks. That may be slower than you want, but at least it will bring about a resolution.
If the manager is causing the problem, you could try speaking to higher levels of management within their organisation. Perhaps you could speak to committee members or other owners to determine if this is a regular issue. If the problems are significant, you may need to look at changing managers.
One final consideration here is that if a repair is the responsibility of the body corporate then you should advise the body corporate of the necessity for the repair in advance and allow it to arrange the repairs. It may have been simpler for you as an owner to get the repair done and seek reimbursement after the fact, but the body corporate is not obliged to approve these applications, and there are occasions when applications are rejected: Body corporate maintenance.
This post appears in the August 2023 edition of The QLD Strata Magazine.
Question: We have purchased a rooftop apartment with skylights. These were built on the original building plans. Who is responsible for the upkeep or any damage to them?
Answer: This would likely depend on which format plan your scheme is in.
This would likely depend on which format plan your scheme is in.
In a building format plan, the roof is common property to be maintained by the body corporate. If the skylights were part of that original structure, they are most likely body corporate responsibility.
In a standard format plan, the roof is part of the lot and a lot owner responsibility.
As a first step, you should check the CMS for your scheme or contact your body corporate manager to ask them which format your building is in or if there are any other conditions that need to be considered such as a by-law that has conferred responsibility for the skylights to owners.
This post appears in the February 2023 edition of The QLD Strata Magazine.
Question: During weather events, our old building leaks through the windows leading onto private access balconies. Who is responsible for the repairs?
We are an old building from the 1980s. During weather events, we experience damaging leaks (walls, carpet etc) through the windows leading onto private access balconies.
Our body corporate maintains that replacement of the windows is the owner rather than the body corporate’s responsibility as on the lot plan these balconies are included in the lot area of each unit. Also, the balconies do not lead onto a common area. Who is responsible for the repairs?
Answer: Don’t rely on what a body corporate says.
I cannot advise (you have to engage and pay me for that!) but there are some ways for you to work out the correct position.
First, don’t rely on what a body corporate says; get a copy of the registered plan that describes the lots (i.e. the units). You can get a copy from Titles Queensland.
Next, see what sort of plan type it is; odds are that it will be a building units plan. Then, find where on the plan the windows would be. Are they within the heavy black line that describes the boundaries of the lot? If there is a balcony that is part of the lot, then the heavy black line will include the balcony, and there will be a fainter black line that shows where the (external) wall is, between the inside of the lot and the balcony. If the windows are located inside the lot boundary (not inside the lot, but inside the lot boundary), and the plan is a building units plan, then the most likely outcome is that the lot owners are responsible for the windows.
NOTE that a lot owner who does not maintain their windows can get into some real trouble if water comes in and damages the common property or someone else’s lot. Best to get some considered legal advice, and then take action to maintain the windows if you are liable to maintain them (and not the body corporate).
This post appears in the February 2023 edition of The QLD Strata Magazine.
Question: Who is responsible for the cost of repairs of sliding doors on the outside walls of a unit leading to a ground floor exclusive use private garden? They cause ingress of water to the main bedroom every time it rains.
Who is responsible for the cost of repairs or replacement of sliding doors on the outside walls of a unit? They cause ingress of water to the main bedroom every time it rains?
I have read this article: ‘QLD: Q&A Who is Responsible for Maintenance of My Apartment Balcony?’, however, my sliding doors are not on a balcony and they lead to a exclusive use tiled area in a private garden on the ground floor of a 3-level unit block. There are no eaves or guttering above the doors.
Answer: From the information available, it seems as though the responsibility sits with the lot owner.
Unless you have a by-law that specifically states otherwise, the owner of an exclusive use are is responsible for general maintenance of the exterior walls and windows that lead onto the exclusive use area.
So, from the information available, it seems as though the responsibility sits with the lot owner.
If it was a newer scheme, you might also consider whether the construction fell under the defect warranty and seek to apply that, but that doesn’t seem to be the case here.
The BCCM has a good training module on the maintenance of exclusive use areas that is worth referring to: Maintenance of exclusive use areas.
This post appears in Strata News #617.
Question: One wall in our building has a mixture of lot owner and common property windows. All experience leaks. Can the body corporate pay for repairs to one lot’s windows as a test case for the repair of other windows on this wall?
In a 10-story, 20 year old tower building with 6 lots per floor, each end wall has a mixture of Body Corporate windows set in the boundary wall, and a number of private windows and doors that leads out to private balconies (on title) on that wall. All 20 units are affected by leaks thru these windows and doors.
The Committee has decided to use one unit (the worst affected lot) as a test case to sort out how to fix the leaks in both the common property windows and the private windows and doors.
The Committee has allocated $27,500 of Body Corporate funds to this project for this one unit and does not want to ask the lot owner to pay for fixing the windows and doors.
The committee claims they can use this Body Corporate money for the job because it is a prototype test case.
Is this an exception to being unable to spend Body Corporate funds on private property?
Answer: The body corporate cannot bear the ultimate cost of the works.
If the window being repaired is an item that the lot owner is responsible for maintaining, the body corporate is unable to carry out those works without either:
- an agreement in place where the lot owner reimburses the body corporate – pursuant to section 200 of the Accommodation Module; or
- the body corporate recovering the costs from the lot owner pursuant to section 202 of the Accommodation Module.
In either case, the body corporate cannot bear the ultimate cost of the works.
This post appears in Strata News #599.
Question: Are there legal requirements for an existing body corporate building in Queensland to have safety screens or window locks fitted to windows above 2m?
I own a 3 strata titled unit complex in Brisbane. One of the units has windows that are 2m above ground. Am legally required to fix safety screens or window locks on the windows in this unit? I understand the National Construction Code specifies various requirements for the prevention of falls from openable windows and in NSW safety screens and window locks are required.
I’m unable to find information that states if it is a legal requirement for Queensland strata block to have safety screens fitted to windows above 2m. From what I understand, safety screens are only required if it is a new build or there is extensive renovation undertaken. Can you please shed any light on whether it is a legal requirement or not to fix safety screens to existing windows above 2m in Queensland?
Answer: To date, there is no “retrospective” requirement in Queensland. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t fit a restrictive device to windows, as this would be considered best practice.
You are correct regarding NSW legislation and where there is a significant upgrade to the number of windows (I think it’s 25% or more) in a scheme, or if it’s a new build anywhere in Australia.
In 2013 (from memory 17 May) the National Construction Code change came into effect where all schemes approved for development must have windows in residential units.
In the state of NSW, under the Strata Schemes Management Regulation 2016 they made this obligation retrospective. Thus requiring all Owners Corporations (Bodies Corporate) to install window safety devices on windows regardless of “when” their scheme was built.
This requirement having been made retrospective was mainly driven by the high number of instances where children had fallen out of windows in Sydney. The Westmead Hospital had been publicising statistics: 1998 and 2008, there were 91 admissions from falls from windows in high rise buildings, 65% of which were children under 4, hence the push for a retrospective change. Interestingly it was only retrospective to strata schemes and not all forms of residential high-rise such as company title.
The requirement to install a window safety device applied to:
- Windows with a sill height less than 1.7 metres from internal floor level, and,
- An inside floor height above 2 metres from the ground level outside the window.
These devices are a complying device if it:
- Is capable of restricting the opening of a window so that a sphere with a diameter of 125mm or more cannot pass through the opening,
- Is capable of withstanding an outward horizontal action of 250 newtons, and,
- Has a child resistant release mechanism, in the case of a device that can be removed, overridden or unlocked.
To clarify, to date there is no “retrospective” requirement in any other state/territory. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t fit a restrictive device as this would be considered best practice. For example, we had a significant number of Gold Coast building managers request we fit Child Window Safety Devices, even though not legislatively required. This is because they had worked out that I high number of holidaymakers came from NSW and parents tend to let their guard down when holidaying so the best practice was to install the devices. Where possible I would fit a flyscreen security screen. This may the window can be left open; insects and burglars can’t get in and children cannot fall out.
This post appears in the October 2021 edition of The QLD Strata Magazine.
Have a question about window safety in QLD body corporate buildings or something to add to the article? Leave a comment below.
- QLD: Q&A Can a Common Property Asset be Repurposed?
- QLD: Owner Improvements
- QLD: Standard Format Plan Maintenance
Looking for strata information concerning your state? For state-specific strata information, take a look here.