Strata Schemes – Part 3

Maintenance Responsibilities – Owner or Owners Corporation?

One of the most confusing aspects of owning a lot within a strata scheme is understanding who is responsible for the maintenance of certain elements within the lot. This can become even more confusing because not every strata plan is the same and some owners corporations may pass specific By-Laws, which change or absolve the owners corporation’s maintenance responsibilities. This will be discussed in more depth below.

Generally speaking all the elements of the property that fall within the cubic air-space of the lot are the lot owner’s responsibility to maintain. This air-space also extends to the balcony or courtyards and is usually defined on the Strata Plan. Those areas that fall outside the lot are considered to be common property or the owners corporations’ responsibility to maintain. Any shared facilities, such as pipes or conduits that pass through a lot are still the owners corporations’ responsibility to maintain, even though they are contained within the lot. These areas are known as ‘structural cubic space’.

Common Property – Owners Corporations’ Responsibility

Generally speaking the following items can be considered the maintenance responsibility of the Owners Corporation for Strata Schemes registered after 1 July 1974, if they were installed at or before the date of registration of the strata plan and there is no notation on the Strata Plan indicating otherwise:

  • Windows, Front Doors, & Balcony Doors, including locks and door closers originally installed
  • Garage Doors if detailed as common property on the plan
  • Structural elements of the building such as the floors, ceilings, roofs, roof voids and boundary walls
  • Lawns, gardens, driveways, pathways and stairwells located throughout the common areas
  • Plaster or Vermiculite Ceilings including cornices
  • Timber or Parquet Floor Boards, floor tiles affixed to balconies, Kitchen, Laundries, Bathrooms and any other area of the lot if originally installed and not noted on the Strata Plan as otherwise
  • Wall tiles affixed to a boundary or common wall
  • Skirting or Architraves located on a common wall
  • Electrical Wiring, if located on a common property wall, or if it services more than one lot
  • Intercom handset
  • TV Aerial
  • Pipes, if located on a common property wall, or if it services more than one lot
  • Guttering around a Townhouse
  • Blocked floor drain
  • The floor dividing the ground floor & first floor within a townhouse
  • Fences located on the boundary of the strata scheme or adjoining common property
  • Letterboxes.

Individual Owner’s Responsibilities

All elements of the building that are contained within the cubic air-space of the lot are the individual owner’s responsibility for maintenance, items such as:

  • Carpets, Cork Tiles, Vinyl/Linoleum Tiles, Floating Timber Floorboards
  • Paint and wall paper
  • Light fittings
  • Blinds & Curtains
  • Internal walls
  • Internal doors
  • Wall Tiles located on an internal wall
  • Skirtings and Architraves located on an internal wall
  • Toilets & pedestals
  • Bath tubs, basins & vanities – any cracks associated with these
  • Shower Screens
  • Built-In Wardrobes
  • Kitchen sinks, cabinets & bench tops
  • Electrical wiring located on an internal wall
  • Appliances that only service the lot, EG bench ovens, cook tops, range hoods, air conditioners etc.
  • Pipe work housed exclusively within the lot (EG the hot water pipe from hot water heater, the “s” bend pipe under a sink) or pipes located on an internal wall
  • Fences separating two lots (EG separating the courtyards of two lots).

The maintenance responsibility of the following items can be quite confusing as it may depend on the individual strata scheme. In these situations, we recommend contacting your Strata Agent to clarify whose responsibility it is to maintain these:

  • Security screen door at the entrance of a lot
  • Painting of a balcony ceiling
  • Water leaking through a wall (Where is the leak coming from? Is the wall an internal wall or is it part of the common property?)
  • Water leaking from a shower
  • Hot water service that is exclusive to a lot
  • Garage door auto opening mechanism/motor – Were they on the registration of the strata plan or installed by an owner later?
  • Mesh between garages
  • Fuses – Is the fuse board located within the lot or in the meter room on common property?
  • Smoke detectors – Is the smoke alarm stand alone or connected to a fire board in the building?
  • Broken telephone wiring
  • Mezzanines within lots
  • Cracks in walls
  • Dampness in a unit.

Exceptions

Generally speaking the guidelines detailed above will be applicable in the vast majority of cases; however there are 3 exceptions to these guidelines as follows:

  1. A specific notation on your Strata Plan: On occasions due to a design complexity or the specific need of a building, a strata plan may have a specific notation that varies these guidelines. As such it is important to check your strata plan to ensure no specific limitations apply.
  2. Where the Owners Corporation Absolves their Responsibility: Section 62(3) of the Act allows an Owners Corporation, via a Special Resolution (75% majority vote) at a general meeting, to absolve their obligation to repair or maintain a specific element of common property as long as the absolution does not affect the structural integrity or safety of the building. Common examples are door locks to front doors and garage doors or settlement cracking on internal boundary walls & ceilings of a lot.
  3. A Ruling by Strata Schemes Adjudicator or Consumer, Trader & Tenancy Tribunal (CTTT): If in a particular circumstance the Strata Schemes Adjudicator or CTTT has made a particular ruling affecting your strata scheme.

If you have any further questions about Strata Schemes, call us on +61 2 9980 6777 or email us at info@johnpye.com.au. If you have a specific question relating to your Strata Plan, we recommend you contact your Strata Agent.

5 Responses to “Strata Schemes – Part 3”

  • mostip says:

    I didn’t know about this before. Thanks for your sharing!

  • Rob says:

    Dear Staff
    I live in strata managed building.
    (1) Water leaked from the roof of the building and the watered entered my room through the common wall. It damaged the carpet. Temporary repair was done but it leaked again and damaged the carpets considerable.
    (2) Water also leaked to our living area from the common property balcony (from under the door) and damaged the living area’s skirting boards and the carpet. The windows and doors are parts of the common area. Leaked again after temporary repairs.
    (3) Water leaked from underneath of the floor possibly from concealed pipes from the bathroom and damaged the carpets and skirting board.
    I believe that the Strata Insurance should pay for the damages to our skirting board and the carpets??
    I seek your comments and indemnify for your comments

    Thank you

    Thank you

    • Hi Rob,

      Thanks for your comment.

      One of our clients had a situation just recently in their apartment where water leaked through a common wall and significantly damaged the carpet in the apartment. The Strata repaired the wall, but did not cover the carpet replacement. The owner had to replace the carpet and claim it from their insurance.

      We hope this helps.

      Vanessa

  • simon hall says:

    Hi
    I live in a 3 unit complex, where one unit owner is nearly 2 years behind in their levies.
    Myself and the other paid up owner wish to replace our front windows.
    Strata Management is telling us that windows to all 3 units will have to be replaced.
    We plan on replacing the windows like for like….Do we have to replace the windows of the unpaid unit?

    • Vanessa Pereira says:

      Hi Simon, thanks for your question. We recommend you address this question to Strata as we are not Strata Agents. From our own experience, the committee can decide what work is required for common property and decide on a plan according to the committee’s wishes. Hope this helps, Vanessa.

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