There is often confusion about who is responsible for certain things - the owners corporation, individual lot owners or tenants. Before an executive committee assumes responsibility for a complaint, issues or damage - it must be satisfied that the owners corporation has a responsibility to address and rectify it. Some issues are solely an owners or occupiers responsibility and not the responsibility of the owners corporation
Who should pay for the damage?
A fixed bath tub overflowed and the water drained into the bath drain. The drain water managed to seep through to the lower apartment and short-circuit the kitchen light below and damage some ceiling paint. Who should pay to repair the damage? The overflowing bath tub owner, the lot owner below (or insurer) or the owners corporation (or insurer)? The answer is that after investigation the bathroom drain pipes were not properly connected hence the cause of the water leakage to the apartment below. Hence the owners corporation paid for both the damages and repair of the drain pipes Bath rooms and kitchens are required to be properly water proofed, this included coping with foreseeable water spillage such as a bath overflow.
Common property is all the areas of the land and building not included in any lot. It is jointly owned by all owners, and the owners corporation is responsible for its management. The lot and common property will be defined on your individual strata plan.
Issues mainly arise when it comes to paying for damages or claiming insurances. Just as if you owned a private lot and house, you need to insure what you own and the owners corporation insures what it owns. This is complicated by the fact that the owners corporation also has an obligation to insure the fittings in your apartment for example kitchen units, even though they may in fact not be common property.
The NSW Department of Fair Trading has a number of very useful resources:
- A web information fact sheet ‘Common property and the lot’ as defined in strata plans.
- A web information fact sheet ‘Repairs and maintenance’ that details a number of common repairs and who is responsible for them.
A discussion of common property on pages 8 and 9 of Strata living: What you need to know about living in your strata community. [(July 2011 FT045). NSW Office of Fair Trading, pp. 27].
Relevant NSW Legislation: Strata Schemes Management Act (1996)
Section 62: What are the duties of an owners corporation to maintain and repair property?
Division 4 – Special provisions for by-laws conferring certain rights or privileges