Ceiling water ingress and damage | Common Property | Flat Chat Forum: Your Questions Answered




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Ceiling water ingress and damage
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dwmyhome
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13/07/2017 - 12:57 pm
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my concrete ceiling has water damage and excess moisture in half of my apartment. We have just carried out major roofing work to replace the membrane and we have had to recall the trades in to redo the area due to a poor result and the top coat failing.

in the meantime I've had tenant move in to a perfect apartment. As mentioned they advise that there is excessive water marks advisable throughout half the ceiling, ceiling paint cracking, water dripping and mould appearing as a result of the moisture.  

they called a plumber in and used the contractor that did the original work and they say there is no leek and for the tenant to turn off the gas heater. The contractor will conduct a flood test. I'm really not happy with this proposed solution. The unit is huge with 9 foot ceilings. There is evidence of water ingress but they are not listening to me.  I want an engineer to be used to asses the issues who's responsibility is this as I feel I'm being ignored. Thanks. Cry

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JimmyT
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13/07/2017 - 3:07 pm
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I'm not sure why you don't want them to try a flood test - wouldn't that confirm your belief that there is a leak?

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dwmyhome
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13/07/2017 - 5:16 pm
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I'm not worried about the water test, yes go a head with that. But I don't have any voice as to what action is taken and how long it's going to take to get sorted. 

the tenants have been told not to use their heater until it drys out, what is courious the bathroom and laundry are not effected these are the wets rooms in the unit - with no windows and an inactive ceil fan. The fans were reported years ago and it hasn't.been addressed either.

My tenants are at work all day they leave the doors open 10 cm and two windows open in the kitchen. When the arrive home there is still condensation on the windows.  The walls are like ice blocks and the bedrooms roof is dripping water and there is brown water marks paint cracking and blistering. 

Im extremely frustrated my neighbour also has similar problems with the huge wall crack thrown into the mix. But she got it fixed and then it reoccurred.

no one is listening to us.

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dwmyhome
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13/07/2017 - 5:27 pm
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Question.  Once the damage is fixed who's responsibility is to paint the ceilings and internal walls to restore them to the original condition.

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JimmyT
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13/07/2017 - 6:01 pm
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dwmyhome said
no one is listening to us.  

Apply to Fair Trading for mediation with the Owners Corporation.  If you don't then get a written and binding undertaking to fix the problem, tell them that you will be taking the Owners Corporation to NCAT for orders forcing them to fix the problem under their responsibilities to maintain and repair common property.

It's not easy but it does work.  You don't even have to hire a lawyer.  There is lots of information on this website about how to do this, if you look around. 

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13/07/2017 - 6:10 pm
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dwmyhome said
Question.  Once the damage is fixed who's responsibility is to paint the ceilings and internal walls to restore them to the original condition.  

This is an interesting one and it is an ssue I have had a lot of arguments over the years with the powers that be:

Basically, if the ceiling and paintwork are damaged during the fixing of the problem then the Owners Corp has to pay for the repair and repaint.

However, if the paintwork is damaged by the original problem (and not by the repair) then the OC is not liable - unless you can show that the original problem was caused by their negligence.

So, for instance, if a gutter pipe broke and wasn't repaired and that caused damage to your internal paintwork, they would be liable.

But if the guttering was merely unable to cope with flooding rain, then they would not and you would claim the paintwork on your home and contents insurance.

In your case, it's a grey area - if they tried to fix the problem but it didn't work. Were they negligent?  Hard to argue.  But if they didn't even try then yes, they would be.

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Lady Penelope
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13/07/2017 - 6:24 pm
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dwmyhome - Is your apartment on the top floor directly under the common property roof? 

The exhaust fans mounted within “Structural cubic space” e.g. communal ducting or a false ceiling which is designed to carry communal pipes etc or outside the lot are the Owner's Corporation (OC) responsibility to maintain. 

The OC is responsible for damage to a unit after a water leak when the OC effected a repair. This should include your new paint work. It appears as though the second attempt at fixing the leak has not worked. 

The Owner is generally responsible for dampness in a lot coming from condensation from the inside of the unit. 

The condensation could be coming from various sources. Numbers 2 - 5 below are all owner responsibility: 

  1. A burst pipe or leak coming from outside the unit, such as from a unit above, or the roof. As noted above the OC is responsible for this condensation. 
  2. The temperature difference between the heated interior and cold exterior of a building in winter, which can form condensation on walls and windows. Are the tenants using an electric blanket in their bedroom? 
  3. Hot showers on cold mornings where further condensation can cause condensation throughout the whole apartment, particularly when an exhaust fan is inoperable and the bathroom door is left open.
  4. Windows being closed during the day while occupants are out, or not opened sufficiently wide to vent the apartment.
  5. Units that don’t receive much sun during the day.

Possible solutions to your condensation problems are:

  1. For the OC to find and repair the leaks AND
  2. For the OC to repair the common property fan.
  3. For the OC to trim trees that may be shading the building and preventing sunlight from falling on your apartment.
  4. For you to install dehumidifiers in your apartment which would remove humidity and condensation from a warm home during winter without having to open any windows. 

If I was you I would be immediately contacting the OC by email and/or letter. You could state that the time delay has been unreasonable and that you demand that the leak and the fan problems be rectified within 7 to 14 days. You could state that if this does not occur then you will be seeking Mediation through the Office of Fair Trading.

Mediation is free. 

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dwmyhome
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13/07/2017 - 9:55 pm
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Lady Penelope said
dwmyhome - Is your apartment on the top floor directly under the common property roof? 

The exhaust fans mounted within “Structural cubic space” e.g. communal ducting or a false ceiling which is designed to carry communal pipes etc or outside the lot are the Owner's Corporation (OC) responsibility to maintain. 

The OC is responsible for damage to a unit after a water leak when the OC effected a repair. This should include your new paint work. It appears as though the second attempt at fixing the leak has not worked. 

The Owner is generally responsible for dampness in a lot coming from condensation from the inside of the unit. 

The condensation could be coming from various sources. Numbers 2 - 5 below are all owner responsibility: 

    1. A burst pipe or leak coming from outside the unit, such as from a unit above, or the roof. As noted above the OC is responsible for this condensation. 
    1. The temperature difference between the heated interior and cold exterior of a building in winter, which can form condensation on walls and windows. Are the tenants using an electric blanket in their bedroom? 
    1. Hot showers on cold mornings where further condensation can cause condensation throughout the whole apartment, particularly when an exhaust fan is inoperable and the bathroom door is left open.
    1. Windows being closed during the day while occupants are out, or not opened sufficiently wide to vent the apartment.
    1. Units that don’t receive much sun during the day.

Possible solutions to your condensation problems are:

    1. For the OC to find and repair the leaks AND
    1. For the OC to repair the common property fan.
    1. For the OC to trim trees that may be shading the building and preventing sunlight from falling on your apartment.
    1. For you to install dehumidifiers in your apartment which would remove humidity and condensation from a warm home during winter without having to open any windows. 

If I was you I would be immediately contacting the OC by email and/or letter. You could state that the time delay has been unreasonable and that you demand that the leak and the fan problems be rectified within 7 to 14 days. You could state that if this does not occur then you will be seeking Mediation through the Office of Fair Trading.

Mediation is free.   

This is great thank you. I do have  another question?  

If the ceiling has excess moisture readings, over and above the normal standards, which can be the cause if the additional moisture causing the mould, then is that the responsibility of the OC as well, because it's a result of the issue??

 

thanks again the info you have provided is a great help. 

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Lady Penelope
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13/07/2017 - 11:32 pm
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Mould is a tricky issue. If the cause of the mould is located outside of the boundaries of your lot, including inside the boundary walls then the Owner's Corporation would be responsible for repairs and compensation. However, if the cause of the mould is within the boundaries of your lot such as from poor ventilation then you, as the lot owner, will be responsible for the damage.

If you can prove that the mould problem is not a result of internal condensation caused by the negligence of your tenants; and can include the moisture readings from the interior of the common property ceiling; and can include the past history of OC roof repairs including the repair failures; and can prove that the OC were negligent in their lack of repairs to the OC ventilation system, then you can mount a good argument for the OC being responsible. 

Also, if you are unhappy with the opinion of the plumber and/or contractor who carried out the original work then you have an option to seek another independent opinion that may be more satisfactory. 

You may also want to obtain an independent mould assessment from a company such as this: https://www.sesa.com.au/mould-testing-inspection-sydney-nsw-act.html

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dwmyhome
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13/07/2017 - 11:59 pm
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Thank you again. 

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Austman
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14/07/2017 - 9:24 am
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JimmyT said

dwmyhome said
Question.  Once the damage is fixed who's responsibility is to paint the ceilings and internal walls to restore them to the original condition.  

This is an interesting one and it is an ssue I have had a lot of arguments over the years with the powers that be:

Basically, if the ceiling and paintwork are damaged during the fixing of the problem then the Owners Corp has to pay for the repair and repaint.

It sure is a vexing issue.

I've recently had a fair bit of correspondence directly with CHU over a claim:

A water pipe burst inside a solid wall and floor slab.   To get to the pipe, both the wall and the floor slab had to be partly excavated.  To get to the floor slab, the plumber had to remove a skirting board and partly cut away a small section of a floating floor (they don't always just lift!).  Floating floors are of course lot property.

CHU covered the excavation cost and wall and slab repairs on the OC's building insurance.  They would not cover the floating floor or skirting board repair even though they were only damaged (but cutting) to get access to the burst pipe.

The OC would not have been liable for the burst pipe, so CHU argued, over several emails, that they were not liable for any damage caused to lot property even if caused by the repair process.  As a floating floor was not a lot fixture or fitting, its repair costs could be claimed on lot contents insurance.

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