Hoarder Damage To Common Property | Common Property | Flat Chat Forum: Your Questions Answered




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Hoarder Damage To Common Property
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david2708
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31/10/2017 - 11:46 pm
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In our building we had a unit owner who was a hoarder on a scale that would fit comfortably on one of those TV shows.

Every room, the rubbish was piled a good five feet high of every inch of space.

On two occasions, Emergency Services had to take a chainsaw to the front door to free the owner.

The first time, the O.C. paid for the replacement door.

Sadly, the owner died in the unit a month or so later and again Emergency Services had the take a chainsaw to the new front door to access the body of the owner. The window also had to be broken to verify the room the deceased was in.

Floorboards had to be removed as apparently is the law where the body lay for up to a month and forensic cleaners had to attend as well.

Aside from the stated damage, there is likely other damage to the common property aspects of the lot.

The Question is who is responsible for the repair?

Do the OC accept responsibility no matter what, or does the neglect and circumstance make the deceased owner's beneficiary responsible for the likely large damage bill to come for repair to the common property aspects of the Lot.

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scotlandx
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01/11/2017 - 12:27 pm
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Applying the “but-for” test, the deceased owner caused the damage to the common property, and the estate is liable for the cost of repair.  Just make sure you do a full audit of the damage, record the cost of repair and take steps to ensure that the property is not transferred without the OC being reimbursed.

I’m surprised the OC paid for the door first time around.

The OC could also contact its insurer to see if they will pay, and they can deal with the estate.

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david2708
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02/11/2017 - 9:42 am
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We have been left in a bit of a wait and see pattern as the Lot has likely already changed ownership to the beneficiary but they have left the unit vacant now for 11 months. They have not touched anything nor said anything as yet.

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scotlandx
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02/11/2017 - 12:49 pm
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You should know if it has been transferred, as the change of owner should be notified to the owners corporation.  Where are the levy notices going?

If it has been transferred you will have an issue trying to get anything from the estate, and the new owner isn’t liable.

I suggest you check the title at LPI, and if it hasn’t transferred give notice to the estate - you may want to consider lodging a caveat.

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Deborah Searle
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07/11/2017 - 10:39 am
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Surely the cleaning bill is a charge against the unit so why isn't the beneficiary liable?

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scotlandx
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07/11/2017 - 12:58 pm
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Because a beneficiary is not liable for the debts of an estate, the estate is. The only way to recoup is to rase the debt and record it against the property which prevents it being transferred until the debt is discharged.

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Deborah Searle
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07/11/2017 - 1:18 pm
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I'm assuming the owners' corp. has already paid the bill in which case it is a charge against the title of the unit and binds successors in title. Nothing to do with estate law and no need for a caveat on title.  

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scotlandx
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07/11/2017 - 4:22 pm
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No, that’s not correct. If the OC has paid the bill then the assumption is they accept liability.

You can’t impose a charge on a title without making a claim, that needs to be done before title transfers, and notice lodged in respect of the lot.  A transferee takes clear title where there is no notice.

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Deborah Searle
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07/11/2017 - 10:22 pm
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I do not agree that if the OC pays the bill it assumes liability.  It has a statutory duty to repair common property which means pay for it either itself or through its insurer.  That does not mean that it can't take action to recoup those expenses.

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scotlandx
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08/11/2017 - 6:37 am
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That isn’t what I said - I said the assumption is they have accepted liability, which is completely different.  Conversely, the OC’s payment does not create a charge or debt on the lot in the absence of the OC taking steps to enforce one.

Yes it can take action to recoup the expenses, but if title has transferred it is too late.

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Sir Humphrey
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08/11/2017 - 9:11 am
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As a general rule, I think the OC can (and in many cases, should) pay to ensure repairs to the common property are made promptly, especially if safety (or a substantial loss of amenity to residents) is at stake and arguing about who is responsible would allow an unsafe condition to persist. After dealing with the immediately pressing safety issue, the OC should try to recoup the cost if they believe someone else was responsible for causing the need to make those repairs. 

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