Elevated issues - waiting for elevator like waiting for Godot | Strata Committees | Flat Chat Forum: Your Questions Answered




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Elevated issues - waiting for elevator like waiting for Godot
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yp
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22/07/2017 - 4:54 am
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We live on the 4th floor of a 4 story building with two basement levels for parking. The way the elevator is programmed means that if somebody on a lower level calls the elevator, even after we have already called the elevator, the elevator will stop at their floor and take them to their destination before trying to come up to 4th floor. Sometimes we have to wait for the elevator up to 10 minutes. Here is a typical scenario:

- We call the elevator to 4th floor, elevator starts coming up

- Somebody on 3rd-floor calls elevator, elevator stops at 3rd-floor, takes them to basement-2, and then starts coming up to 4th floor

- Somebody on ground-floor calls elevator, elevator stops at ground floor, takes them to 1st floor, and then starts coming up to 4th floor

- Somebody on 2nd-floor calls elevator, elevator stops at 2nd floor, takes them to basement-1, and then starts coming up to 4th floor

- ...

- Having transported everybody at all the lower levels to their destination, elevator reaches 4th floor ūüôā

 

We have contacted the Strata Manager who has taken the issue to the executive committee, but the response has been that "this is the way elevator is programmed and cannot be changed". I doubt this is factual, but have no doubt it would cost money to reprogram or change the control panel for the elevator.

There are always other urgent issues (garbage, garage door, water leakage, excessive noise, gardening, ...) so this issue gets ignored as it impacts most the people on the 4th floor most, and a bit less on the 3rd floor, and not at all on the 2nd floor.

We are trying to be understanding, but waiting for an elevator and being teased with "coming up, no going down, no coming up again, no it stopped" does get old very quickly.

What should we do next? How can we progress this issue without alienating the neighbours? What are our options if executive committee flat-out refuses to acknowledge this as a problem that they ever want to fix?

Thank you for your advice.

Yip
- waiting for the elevator Godot

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JimmyT
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22/07/2017 - 11:19 am
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I love the way editing this website sends me off to find stuff I didn't know.  On consulting Professor Google and Dr Wikipedia, I found there is a thing called the Elevator Algorithm which not only controls most elevators but is the principle behind the control of the hard disk on your computer. Weird or what?

So here is the basic Elevator Algorithm (purloined from Wikipedia).

The elevator algorithm

The elevator algorithm, a simple algorithm by which a single elevator can decide where to stop, is summarized as follows:

  • Continue traveling in the same direction while there are remaining requests in that same direction.
  • If there are no further requests in that direction, then stop and become idle, or change direction if there are requests in the opposite direction.

The elevator algorithm has found an application in computer operating systems as an algorithm for scheduling hard disk requests. Modern elevators use more complex heuristic algorithms to decide which request to service next. 

My point is, this is not something new.  If your elevator is even older than computers, it should be using that very basic algorithm and so you have grounds to go to your committee and say it's broken and you are duty bound by law to fix it.

This is a much easier argument to present than "it's not working in a way that treats all residents fairly and equally."

OK, I am putting my chairperson's hat on now: "It's working perfectly and it has always operated like that so how can it be broken?"

And your answer is, "maybe it has always been broken or it broke in the early days and never got fixed - but that is not an excuse for not fixing it."

Now, this is where the politics get tricky.  You have to present yourself as being reasonable and even apologetic but determined to get this essential piece of infrastructure working for the benefit of everyone in the building.

So first of all, ask to see the report they got from an an independent  lift engineer who was familiar with older elevators (rather than someone from the same company that installed the lift all those years ago but only knows new systems).

The chances are this report doesn't exist - so you ask for one.

And if they refuse, you tell them that you will very reluctantly (but determinedly) start an action at Fair Trading and then NCAT to compel them to do something.  And then you offer to do the legwork so that you can resolve the situation - or discover that it can't be easily resolved - and present them with options to put to the other owners.

And by the way, you might want to start your legwork HERE or HERE.

And let us know how you go.  Our buildings are ageing and eventually we're all going to need help with the most expensive piece of infrastructure that we collectively own.

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jaybee
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25/07/2017 - 9:27 am
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Hello Yip & Jimmy

I work for a lift company and would suggest you find out from the strata manager which lift company services your lifts and find out when the next service is due.  Most lifts get serviced quarterly, and these days a service report is issued each time.  This report probably goes to the strata manager.

Then contact the lift company and ask if they can alter the programming at the next service or, if that's not possible, ask them to quote on the works required.  The lift company will know more about lifts than the EC!

That way at least you have a quoted figure to present to the EC.  The lift company should also be able to give you a nice professional looking document highlighting all the benefits this upgrade will provide.

good luckLaugh

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Backstick
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25/07/2017 - 10:09 am
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A quick response to JimmyT about the aforementioned elevator algorithm. In essence, yes that's basically correct. The difficulty is that there are an amazing array (in the hundreds) of lift control systems out there and they don't all work the same way. 

The recommendation of getting a Lift Engineer is good. You could get a Lift Consultant - who will arguably be independent, although they have all trained somewhere, so could still have some allegiance to the 'old' company. You could also look to try and get another Lift Company in but that's always tricky if the incumbent company has a long term contract - this is typically the case.

Not all lifts are made to the same standards and not all lift control systems have the same features and capabilities. If this lift is old and the control system is relay or contactor based (rather than microprocessor or PLC) then there is a limit to how much can be done. 

Happy to elaborate. The disclaimer here is that I do work in the industry. 

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analuk
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25/07/2017 - 10:23 am
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Yes interesting topic this one - in a democratic society - equability seems the key here in being able to programme the lift to provide service to all floors on a fair basis to all residents. The lift in question seems to be obeying some 'minimum distance to travel' approach from what is described.

All lift systems would be similar in configuration nature (except the v.old ones - thanks for Jimmy's research on wikipedia re the lift algorithm he discovered.

Would be very surprised if a simple queuing mechanism could not be adopted servicing floors in requested order.....that is where Jimmy's suggestion re Fair Trading and NCAT comes in - 

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yp
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25/07/2017 - 1:44 pm
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Thanks for the advice. Will go ahead and get a quote, so at least we know what the potential cost is. EC might have been not wanting to take it on fearing excessive costs, so this could be a good way forward.

 

Yip

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Ziggy
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03/08/2017 - 1:20 pm
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Hi there guys, my unit block has a lift that was built in 1983. I have been asking for it to be fixed for 4 years. It is so noisy and keeps everyone awake at night (and during the day); it sounds like bombs going off. It breaks down on a regular basis and does not land level with the floors.

The current Strata Committee WILL NOT upgrade or replace the lift. None of the 5 member committee live in the block. I have been to Fair Trading, which was a joke. We were mocked, ridiculed and interrupted by the SC member there representing the OC. What on earth can I do to FORCE them to replace the old, run-down Otis lift.

We are currently with a lift company whose contract expires in June 2018. 

Ziggy.

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JimmyT
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03/08/2017 - 3:01 pm
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The owners corporation has a duty to maintain and repair common property which you can enforce be seeking orders at NCAT.

You have already taken the first step by seeking mediation at Fair Trading so now you can move on to seeking orders at the Tribunal.

I think you could seek orders under section 232 (1)(e) and (2) "Failure to exercise a function" which under Section 106 is defined as the "duty of the owners corporation to maintain and repair common property". (Extracts below)

Provided the Owners Corp hasn't passed a by-law saying they will not maintain the lift (which is highly unlikely) it would be worth pursuing orders to get it done.

They will doubtless try to make you look bad by threatening other owners with special levies to pay for this but this is nonsense - you could get it done with a strata loan.

You might consider getting an independent lift engineer in to assess the problem and write a report (possibly with a view to getting the work done).

And as for the non-resident owners running the building - it sounds like it's time for a palace coup.  They have probably got where they are by proxy farming - all you need to do is get resident owners galvanised and kick the self-interested absentees out.

 

232 Orders to settle disputes or rectify complaints

 

(1) Orders relating to complaints and disputes The Tribunal may, on application by an interested person, original owner or building manager, make an order to settle a complaint or dispute about any of the following:

(e) an exercise of, or failure to exercise, a function conferred or imposed by or under this Act or the by-laws of a strata scheme,

(2) Failure to exercise a function 
For the purposes of this section, an owners corporation, strata committee or building management committee is taken not to have exercised a function if:

(a) it decides not to exercise the function, or

(b) application is made to it to exercise the function and it fails for 2 months after the making of the application to exercise the function in accordance with the application or to inform the applicant that it has decided not to exercise the function in accordance with the application.

 

106 Duty of owners corporation to maintain and repair property

 

(1) An owners corporation for a strata scheme must properly maintain and keep in a state of good and serviceable repair the common property and any personal property vested in the owners corporation.

(7) This section is subject to the provisions of any common property memorandum adopted by the by-laws for the strata scheme under this Division, any common property rights by-law or any by-law made under section 108.

(8) This section does not affect any duty or right of the owners corporation under any other law.

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scotlandx
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03/08/2017 - 6:49 pm
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If the lifts are not stopping level at the floors there is a fairly high risk of injury.  One thing you may wish to consider is contacting the insurer - if they become aware that the OC isn't meeting its obligations in circumstances where they know there is an issue, then they may not cover you in the event of a liability/claim.

That would focus the minds of the Committee and the other owners.

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Ziggy
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08/08/2017 - 8:08 pm
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Thanks so much everyone! I'm scared stiff of NCAT! The SC has an engineer looking at the lift. Don't like our chances though.

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JimmyT
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09/08/2017 - 9:51 am
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analuk said
Yes interesting topic this one - in a democratic society - equability seems the key here in being able to programme the lift to provide service to all floors on a fair basis to all residents.

Interestingly (well, to a geek like me, anyway) modern lifts can be programmed to suit the most efficient movement of people at different times of the day.

For instance,  in the evening they can all return to the ground floor as soon as they have taken people home, ready for the next people who return from work, but in the morning they can default back to a mid point to be nearer the next people going to work.

In some large office buildings, the lifts "rest" at the coffee shop floor in mid-morning to be ready to take workers back to their offices after their coffee break. 

Apparently there is a computer game based on the software that was developed to program lifts in this way.

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