Owner selling - requesting urgent repairs. NSW | Another day in paradise | Flat Chat Forum: Your Questions Answered
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ugghhh - we thought that this pesky owner was out of our hair and moving on. But - no. it's Friday night, after 9pm and I get a regular complaint email about this time. The owner is now demanding that the owner's corporation make urgent repairs to guttering that is overflowing in recent heavy rains claiming that this is "affecting my sale".
We have discussed the guttering at recent AGMs and know it will need replacing sometime in the next few years. We decided against raising a special levy immediately because we had already had a special levy in the previous financial year.
Can an owner force "urgent repairs" if they deem the issue affecting their sale price? Is the OC responsible for the sale price of units? We have met many previous demands of this owner. This is not a small urgent repair; it would require a special levy, scaffolding and new materials would be in the realm of $15-20000. Fascia boards will also be needing replacement and so the jpb could be up to $30000.
Would it be wise to get quotes at this stage of the sale, which would add a record of "special levy required" to the strata records and possibly also "affect" the sale?
Where do we draw the line here?
Many thanks in advance.
Beware of no repair.
The Owner is responsible for insuring the contents of their home. However, the Owner has clearly notified the OC of the problem with the common property guttering and facia boards. Now that Notice has been provided it is the duty of the OC to make these repairs in a reasonable and timely manner.
The OC has decided not to repair. It is not unreasonable for the Owner to make a claim for any loss, or damage to their contents from the OC rather than from their own insurance company. In fact their insurance company may force them to do so.
In addition, the OC's insurance company may deny liability if the OC is seen to have knowingly decided not to fulfill their duty to repair common property in a timely manner.
The OC's decision not to repair may end up being the wrong decision and may cost more money than they first anticipated.
There is an absolute obligation on the OC to repair and maintain the common property. However, that does not mean everything has to be in perfect, pristine, as good as the day it was built condition.
In the case of this fascia and gutter, the question I would ask is: Since it is acknowledged that the work needs to be done eventually, what is the risk that the overflowing gutter does further damage that ultimately makes the job bigger and more expensive than it would be if the work were done sooner? That someone is selling is irrelevant to a decision about whether this is a job that can be reasonably deferred for a few years or should be done promptly. If the job would be urgent without this person selling, then get on with it. If the job is not urgent, then don't put up with being bullied if the OC has already made a plan and recorded its reasonable decision.
Since the matter has been discussed at AGMs, I assume the decision to anticipate doing this work in a few years time was minuted, ideally with something recorded about why the job was not urgent but nonetheless could be reasonably anticipated in the next few years. Even if it was not a resolution, if the minutes record discussion of an anticipated cost of around $30,000 in a few years time for this anticipated work, then nothing is hidden. The seller can say that the OC is aware of this particular bit of work and has a plan to fix it. The buyer can anticipate a contribution will be needed later.
If the plan is discoverable in the records of the OC, then I would suggest standing back and not saying anything beyond what is explicit in those records. It is also important for the OC or committee to avoid getting too chatty with prospective purchasers and being exposed to accusations of having misrepresented the property.
By the way, does the OC have a sinking fund plan? This is exactly the sort of thing that should be covered by a sinking fund plan. Modest contributions to the sinking fund are made every year and the plan covers known expenses such as the guttering in a few years and perhaps something else that will be expensive 10 years from now. You can also have a contingency component to cover you for unexpected repairs.
A good sinking fund plan is very equitable because it spreads the cost of repairs evenly across all owners past, present and future.
The timing of repairs needs to be determined according to factors such as risk of personal injury, risk of damage to property, level of inconvenience and funding available, etc. If there was significant risk of personal injury, for example, the repairs should be treated with the utmost urgency and all stops removed to make happen (including an urgent special levy and borrowing if a levy is not possible).
If the problem is only causing inconvenience only, then the repairs should be slotted into the repairs and maintenance programme according to priorities against other works and funding availability.
The sale of one’s apartment in itself should not be a factor in determining the timing of works. Perhaps the Lot Owner might consider timing the sale around the repairs and maintenance schedule rather than the other way around. However, the OC does need to be able demonstrate that it is competently managing all repairs along the lines that I have outlined above.
... the repairs should be slotted into the repairs and maintenance programme according to priorities against other works and funding availability.
I agree with everything else except the last part. Funding availability is not really an acceptable reason for delaying repairs. If the funding is not there and the repairs are necessary then you strike a special levy or get a strata loan.
This is why the government brought in an obligation to have a repairs schedule in the recent law changes.
Too often strata schemes use lack of funding as an excuse for not fulfilling their statutory obligations to maintain and repair, usually because the owners would rather the "next guy" paid for the wear and tear they had inflicted on the building.
Madame Chair has said that the committee were aware repairs to the gutters will be needed in the next few years. But as part of assessing how urgently the work needs doing and the responsibility to do it, surely you also need to ask whether the existing state of the gutters is really causing the problem the owner is worried about at this point (which seems to be that it doesn't look good to potential buyers). If the gutters were in good repair there is still the chance that they would be overflowing on some of the extremely wet days we'ved have lately.
Recently the rain in Sydney has been very heavy and persistent for a long time. I (secretary) have had complaints about water leaking into garages, overflowing gutters and mould inside townhouses, to all of which the Strata Manager has said that the weather has been so unusual that it is not reasonable to expect otherwise, or expect Strata to do anything about it. (Happily we have had no leaks inside habitable rooms or I would be reacting fast!).
It does seem a reasonable response to me. Or is it being negligent to not act further?
If an lot owner has water damage as direct result of the leaking cutter. They must advise the OC of the urgent repair to avoid further damage to the strata property.
They maybe able to claim on there common area insurance, but more likely this would be considered a maintenance issue. The amount for repair should come out of the long term sinking plan of the strata scheme. Or arrange a special levy for it.
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