Hand rail for disabled owner installed on outside wall common property | Common Property | Flat Chat Forum: Your Questions Answered




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Hand rail for disabled owner installed on outside wall common property
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anchorage
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05/02/2018 - 12:48 pm
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Owner wants to install handrail on outside wall of first floor unit to ground level to enable them to use the outside stairs without fear of falling.   Would this be at the owner’s expense or would it be paid for by the body corporate?

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Austman
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05/02/2018 - 4:42 pm
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The OC where I live had a similar request.

In our case the handrail was for 3 or 4 steps directly outside the requesting lot but in a common lobby area.  The committee (I am the chair) decided to install it at OC expense.  So the handrail become an asset to the common property.

As it turned out,  other’s found it useful too!

If the handrail was to be installed in a lot property area or if it was only the requesting lot that would benefit from it, it might be fair enough for the requesting lot to pay for its installation.

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Lady Penelope
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05/02/2018 - 6:03 pm
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I agree with Austman. Responsibility for a hand rail will generally fall on whom ever owns the stairs. Are the stairs common property? Or are they located within a Lot boundary?

If there is no hand rail on the common property stairs between the ground floor and the first floor then I would think that it would be essential for your OC to provide one.

There is no legal requirement for a handrail for a height of less than 1 m, however other safety concerns such as the number of elderly or young occupants, visibility, and  ‘trips and slips’ may increase the need for a railing. The height between the ground floor and the first floor would obviously be more than 1 m.

“To prevent people from falling, a continuous balustrade or barrier must be provided alongside any stairway or ramp, any floor, corridor, hallway, balcony, verandah, mezzanine or path of access to a building if it is not bounded by a wall or any level more than 1 m above adjoining floor or finished ground level.”

More info here: https://www.abis.com.au/balustrades-handrails-stairs

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anchorage
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06/02/2018 - 7:12 am
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Thank you for your comments. The rail would only benefit the one lot, so hence your comments solve this matter.  

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Austman
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06/02/2018 - 10:26 am
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Indeed the OC has to meet the NCC/BCC requirements on common property stairway handrails that applied when the stairs were constructed.

And it’s probably not a bad idea to apply the current requirements (if they have changed) in the interests of general safety.

My OC has now installed 2 of them.  I found it curious that handrails weren’t already installed but on checking the current NCC/BCC requirements, they aren’t actually compulsory for stairs that have a wall on each side of them – which was the case for us.   We installed them anyway.

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JimmyT
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06/02/2018 - 1:41 pm
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Agree with Austman.  It doesn’t matter now many lots are serviced by these stairs. I wonder what would happen if there was an accident and the owner sued for negligence?  If the steps were broken, you’d have to fix them regardless of the number of owners who used them. 

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bluehouse
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06/02/2018 - 5:42 pm
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I have wondered about this in the past, because there would be situations where a stair railing is not legally required but the addition of one (or a better one) would enable an elderly or disabled person to cope with accessing their home independently.  The reasoning given above that who pays probably depends on whether more than that owner would benefit seems sound. But then what permissions would be needed for such an addition? 

Am I right in assuming that in NSW at least:.

  • if the railing will be on lot property and not visible from outside, it is a cosmetic renovation and requires no strata approval.
  • If it is on common property and the EC decides that the OC will pay and maintain then the EC vote to do so is the permission. 

BUT

  • If it is on lot property but on the exterior of the lot (I’m thinking of a townhouse) would the commonly used by-law regarding not changing the appearance of the lot come into play? In which case does it require EC approval?
  • If it is on common property and only benefits that lot, so the EC decides that the owner should pay and maintain, what kind of approval would be needed? 

NOTE: If it is decided that the individual lot owner is required to pay, it might be helpful to point out that some councils or aged care providers will install safety rails (and other safety measures) at reduced costs for some elderly or disabled clients. However I don’t know if this would apply to situations where the stairs in question are on common property.  But its worth suggesting to the relevant owner that they find out. 

In the case of the elderly see https://www.myagedcare.gov.au/ or contact your local council.  You would be asking about “Home Modification” services. An occupational therapist would assess the person’s whole living environment (so the committee may end up with requests for approval for other things as well). Disabled people can use the same site to search for providers, but the funding might be from the NDIS if they qualify. 

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