Forum: Tree growing in neglected flat floor


This is not the tree in the flat in the story ... it's a lot worse than this

In these days of housing shortages, it seems almost criminal that an apartment owner would allow a unit to lie empty, literally falling apart, then fight tooth and nail to avoid fixing it or even pay levies (or fees, as this is Victoria) when they fall due.

After several years of neglect, this particular ground-floor unit in Melbourne appears to have a tree growing out of the floor.

What can the other apartment owners do?  Do they have to wait until the roots cause subsidence in the foundations, or block the sewage pipes, or rupture the electricals and cause a fire?

If a lot owner has refused or failed to carry out repairs and maintenance, Victoria’s Owners Corporation Act allows the Owners Corp to serve a notice on the owner ordering them to do the work, and then, if they delay or refuse, even go ahead and pay for the repair themselves. 

But there’s a catch. The Act says this is permissible if the outward appearance or outward state of repair of the lot or the use and enjoyment of the lots or common property by other lot owners are adversely affected.

So if this tree isn’t doing any harm that anyone can actually see, and hasn’t yet caused subsidence, sewage backflow or electrical failures, what can the owners corp do?

The law allows them to go into the unit to effect repairs and charge it back to the owner – provided they get the owner’s permission or give reasonable notice. But if there is an emergency, they can just go straight in.

My instinct would be to get creative, employ a kick-arse lawyer and a forensically focussed engineer and explain the facts of life to this antisocial absentee. Specifically, they’d explain that they are going to force him to do so much work on the place – or they will do the work and charge it back to him – that he will be compelled to sell it because.

If that doesn’t work, how hard would it be to arrange an “emergency”?  It’s not as if there’s anyone there to say everything was fine.

This discussion could run and run.  You can get in early HERE.

Elsewhere in the Forum

  • Should my building be demanding QR code check-ins at our front door?  That’s HERE.
  • Strata manager won’t pass on contact details for other owners, blaming lockdown.  Now he’s telling my neighbours I want their email addresses for nefarious purposes. That’s HERE.
  • Company Title directors want to be paid – even though they hired a managing agent to do their work.  That’s HERE.
  • New strata manager has restarted the contract before the old one had run out.  That’s HERE.
  • We’ve updated the new links for strata disputes and fixed the broken ones.  That’s HERE.

There are a lot more questions and answers on the Forum. The best way to keep up to speed with what’s happening is to register (if you haven’t already done so), then login and subscribe to the topics that interest you most.

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