Water Leak Responsibility

In periods of heavy rain, water often finds a way to cause a nuisance inside as well as outside. Determining who is responsible for the water leak repairs can be complicated in strata schemes.

For Owners, Committees, Building Managers and Body Corporate Community Managers this creates the need for some thorough investigation and a hard look at the QLD Body Corporate and Community Management Act 1997.
In basic terms, the Body Corporate is responsible for the maintenance of common property and each Owner is responsible for the interior of their lot. Bring into the equation the fact that the Developer/Builder has an ongoing responsibility to repair any structural faults within six and a quarter years of the date of Practical Completion.

The Questions

From the above it seems like determining who has the responsibility for water leaks is pretty clean cut.
What if:

  1.  The water comes through the ceiling of a high-rise unit from an over-flowed bath above?
  2. There is a hole in the pipe providing water to your unit?
  3.  You are an investor-owner whose tenant has left the bedroom window open?
  4. Water enters through the grouting in your balcony and ruins your tiles and flooring timber and the ceiling of your neighbours unit below?
  5.  The drainage on the balcony of the unit above you blocks and water overflows and causes damage to your balcony?

If these situations occur, for owners in bodies corporate where there is a Building Manager, they should be your first port of call. If they are uncertain, your Community Manager is next.
Then, responsibility for the necessary repairs will need to be clearly determined and the date of the practical completion identified. If Body Corporate expenditure is involved, the Committee or a Representative of the Committee (in larger buildings it is a good idea to have a building sub-Committee) will need to be involved. This will also mean some delay because an alternate quote may be required and, perhaps, that magic word ‘insurance’.
We would ask for patience here, recognizing that this is an incredibly frustrating experience for the lot Owner.
If you were an uninvolved lot Owner, chances are that you would want care taken to ensure your levies are not spent on repairs that are not a Body Corporate responsibility. If it is a Body Corporate responsibility as little as necessary is spent.

The Answers

  1. There is (between the floor of the unit above and your ceiling) a microscopic space which is owned by the Body Corporate which gives the responsibility to the Body Corporate.
  2.  If the pipe services only your unit, the responsibility is yours.
  3.  Your tenant, your responsibility. However, you would have a good case to make it the tenant’s.
  4. In this case it depends. Although, if the balcony is on title, there is a good chance that the responsibility is yours.
  5.  Each owner has a responsibility to maintain their lot and if failure to that results in cost to another owner then the first owner may well be expected to make good the damage caused to the property by the second owner.

Situations may vary to alter the circumstances above and it is important to remember that water can travel a long way from where it starts.
If any water leaks occur in your strata community contact your building manager. If they are uncertain, your Community Manager should be contacted.
Click here and make the switch to SSKB today if you are looking for a knowledgeable community manager.

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