NSW: Q&A Common Property Defects and Reimbursement for Repairs

Question: We discovered a leak in the ceiling of our newly renovated bathroom. Strata will fix but will cover the repair hole with a vent. We’d like it returned to the condition it was in prior to the leak.

I recently noticed a drip through a light fitting in my main bathroom. We completely renovated the apartment earlier this year, including this bathroom.

The strata manager has agreed to fix the defect but the plumber will cover the hole he needs to cut with an air vent.

We’ve just spent over 6 figures completely renovating our apartment. I feel Strata should, after repairing the pipes, return the ceiling to the condition it was in prior to the leak. Is this unreasonable and what can we do?

Answer: If the leak is due to a defect in the common property, the owners corporation should re-instate all affected lot and common property.

Pursuant to Section 122 Power of owners corporation to enter property in order to carry out work of the Strata Schemes Management Act, 2015 (NSW):

  1. an owners corporation is liable for any damage to a lot or any of its contents caused by or arising out of the carrying out of any work, or the exercise of a power of entry, referred to in this section unless the damage arose because the owners corporation was obstructed or hindered.

So, if the leak is due to a defect in the common property, the owners corporation should re-instate all affected lot and common property.

You should raise this position with your strata manager, and, if the owners corporation still refuses to re-instate your ceiling/paint/lights, you may apply for Mediation to attempt to resolve the situation (failing which, commence action in NCAT).


Question: Who is Responsible for Sanding Polishing Floorboards?

I wonder if you can clarify a strata question that is very grey with regards to my floorboards.

Our building in Sydney NSW was completed on the year 2000. Each townhouse has a section of floorboards in the lounge room.

Our Strata manager says the floorboards are not common property and are the owners responsibility.

This contradicts the following – last year we had some rectification works due to common property defects relating to waterproofing and some of the townhouses did have some water damage to their floorboards and the strata paid for the repairs to the floorboards.

When I asked the strata manager about sanding polishing floorboards, they said NO as these are the owner’s responsibility. When I asked the Executive Committee, the chairperson said that because the other units had damage caused by the reification works of the common property defects, the owners corporation had to pay for them.

I find this inequitable and am really confused. What do I do?

Answer: You need to confirm whether your flooring is common property or lot property

It is not uncommon for the Owners Corporation to repair lot property resulting from damage caused by common property defects. Therefore, whilst the flooring may not be common property, the Owners Corporation would still be responsible to repair flooring where their property has caused the damage.

However, to determine if your flooring is common property or lot property, and which party is responsible for general repair and maintenance of the flooring, the following should be confirmed:

  1. Type of timber flooring , hard flooring or floating floors
  2. How the timber flooring is installed, is the flooring attached to the common property in any way, i.e. screwed, glued to the floor slab.
  3. Is the timber flooring part of the original building, i.e. installed at the time of construction and not replaced or altered by an individual owner(s) since construction
  4. Are there any special bylaws that transfer the responsibility of maintaining the flooring to either party, the individual Owners or the Owners Corporation

In summary, if the flooring was installed at the time of construction, has not been altered since by an individual owner(s) and is affixed to the common property floor slab within your lot, and there is no special by law in place to determine who is responsible, the flooring will be deemed to be common property and the Owners Corporation would be responsible to repair and maintain. Please note there is an argument excluding the polish/lacquer, which is lot owner responsibility as it is our view that the polish sits within your lot space. It is the upper surface of the floor and the starting point of your cubic airspace in as much as you own the painted surface of the common property ceiling in your lot.

Therefore, in practice, while the Owners Corporation is responsible to repair and maintain the floorboards, any cost for application of polish would be payable by you.

In conclusion, further assessment of the need for re-sanding will assist in determining who’s proper responsibility the polish is, as there are alternate arguable views regarding the responsibility to repolish the flooring.


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Please note that this article is provided for information purposes only and is not a substitute for professional legal advice.