When part of a strata title scheme, it’s important to understand how the property should be maintained and managed.
In Australia, the Owners’ Corporation handles maintenance, repair and management of common property. But if you’re the landlord, you’re responsible for your individual area. Whilst you own the inside of the property, the body corporate looks after the structure of the building.
The challenging part is, it’s not always clear what’s covered or where boundary lines are in blocks of properties and office spaces that are jointly owned.
When things go wrong, the owners’ corporation can arrange to have a qualified contractor attend to the issue. But when do you call on owners’ corporation versus organise repairs yourself?
If you’re invested in a strata home or office, consult with your strata manager about specific responsibilities. As a general guide, some main areas to consider are:
Strata plumbing and electrical options
There are some grey areas when it comes to who’s responsible for strata plumbing, especially leaks.
Both plumbing and electrical involve hidden parts that may be inside or outside a private lot. As these parts aren’t visible, it’s harder to identify who’s responsible. For minor repairs, it’s unlikely you’ll need to go through the owners’ corporation. However, larger repairs could need corporation members to meet and discuss action.
Common repairs that may be the responsibility of the owners corporation include:
Blocked floor drains
Water ingress into garage
Guttering on townhouse
Communal hot water services
Light fittings and switches
Burst pipes, water leak damage or water leaking through tiles are issues harder to determine responsibility.
If you want to renovate a bathroom in a strata home or office building, you must seek approval from the owners’ corporation first. This includes replacing tiles which could potentially affect the bathroom’s waterproofing.
For general repairs, owners’ corporate is usually responsible for:
Mould on walls or ceilings, providing it’s come from water leaking through ceiling and walls
Main stopcock to unit, which is the valve that controls the cold water system in your home/office
Ducting covering stack for ventilation, heating and air conditioning
Whilst it’s the owners’ corporation responsibility to fix burst pipes within shared walls, you must repair it if it’s exclusive to your lot. For example, a burst pipe feeding into the sink would be the landlord’s responsibility.
Some repairs that may be the responsibility of the owners’ corporate are:
Blocked kitchen sewer drains
Burst pipe in common property or outside the lot
Hot water service
Ceiling, roof and floors
Ceilings are the owners’ corporation duty to maintain.
Paintwork, tile, carpet or floor damage, irrespective of cause is up to you to look after. However, floor tiles in common areas may be maintained by your strata manager.
Other common repairs the owners’ corporation may be responsible for are:
Structural elements of the roof, ceilings and floors
Magnesite floor base, which is common in properties from the 1960s-1970s; this flooring consists of asbestos and applied to top concrete ground floors
Entrance doors, windows, balconies and parking
Generally, an owners’ corporation will maintain security doors, windows and flyscreens. But this is voided if you have installed new flyscreens or doors after the strata plan was registered.
Some general repairs owners’ corporations must uphold include:
Doors and windows originally installed. If you choose to install a new door or window, repairs and maintenance may fall under your responsibility as the landlord
Door locks, including the installation and maintenance of automatic closers
Entrance door to property
Security door repair
Window safety devices
Garage doors and fittings, but you must maintain your individual car space(s)
Balcony doors originally installed; check with your strata manager for scheme registration date. Newer schemes hold the corporate entity responsible
Whether you live in a strata home or own a strata office space, knowing who’s in charge of what can save time, money and hassle.