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water leak
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billy
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14/09/2018 - 5:54 pm
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My rental unit is in an old block. Paint has bubbled on the wall I share with an adjacent unit, which is tenanted. Their bathroom is on the other side of the wall. Our wall often feels wet & we have discovered water on the floor at the base of the wall. 

An inspection revealed no/ failed waterproofing in the bathroom.  The Strata manager approached the unit owner who is not interested in rectifying the problem as they have tenants who they don’t want to lose or have to pay for alternative accommodation while repairs are done.  I have made an offer to the owners that their tenants could use our bathroom during the repairs.

Until our wall is dry we cannot repair the area & are unable to lease the property in its present state.

 What do I do now?

Billy

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kaindub
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14/09/2018 - 10:37 pm
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Fear not. You don’t have to put up,with this.

But your SM should be more helpful. Sounds like they are one of the lesser quality SMs out there.

Firstly determine if the adjacent bathroom is an original one. If that is the case then the OC is responsible for repairing the waterproofing. The OC has an absolute responsibility to maintain the common property and can effect repairs despite the protestations of the owner.

Secondly if the bathroom has been renovated by way of new wall and floor tiles then check for a bylaw stating that responsibility for waterproofing is on the lot owner. If you find such a bylaw then ask the SM or your committee to issue a bylaw breach notice to the lot owner. He has to repair it or get a fine and can be directed by the court to effect a repair.

If a by law does not exist it is still up to the lot owner to fix the problem. 

If the owner still does not want to cooperate, ask the SM or the committee to effect the repairs and to pass the cost onto the owner.

You don’t have to suffer because of the intransigence of the lot owner.

If the SM and the committee won’t help, just apply to NCAT to get an order to get the repairs done. The court can sort out whether it’s the lot owner or the OC who pays, but in any case you get your repairs

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JimmyT
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14/09/2018 - 10:51 pm
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The wall between your units is common property.  That means not only that they have to fix it, but the lot owners have to allow them access to fix it. 

If the lot owners refuse, the strata committee can take them to NCAT to get orders compelling them to allow access.

If the strata committee or OC refuse to go to NCAT, you can go to NCAT and compel them to take action.

End of the day, the wall needs to be fixed and the lot owner has to allow it.  

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billy
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17/09/2018 - 3:52 pm
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Thanks for this information but just to clarify, what is the definition of “original”.  The building is about 100 years old with the Strata Plan being registered in 1984.

Billy

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JimmyT
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18/09/2018 - 6:42 pm
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billy said
Thanks for this information but just to clarify, what is the definition of “original”. 

In this case, “original” would mean the wall when the strata scheme was created.

The point Kaindub is making is that if the owner has changed the tiles on the wall, for instance, then they are liable and if they haven’t, then it’s an owners corp issue.

However, you need to look at it the other way round.  The owners corp needs to get it fixed – that is their responsibility, ultimately.  It’s only as a secondary issue that they need to establish who’s responsible and bill the landlord for the repairs if there is evidence that it’s his fault, e.g. because of renovations that they might have done.

This scenario offers limitless opportunities for faffing around pointing fingers and getting nothing done. Demand in writing that the OC takes action and if they don’t do anything within two months (less if you can show that you have already made a complaint), start proceedings at NCAT as described above.

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billy
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07/10/2018 - 5:15 pm
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In the 6 months since the SM & unit owner were made aware of this problem nothing has been done to stop the leak & repair the wall. Until this is done I am unable to rent the unit & so far have lost $16,000 rental income since March.   It seems SM is trying very hard not to upset the other unit owner who was most annoyed when a plumbing inspection was organised.

I have not seen the bathroom in question but photos from the plumber show really dodgy hot & cold water pipes running along the wall in front of the tiles to the shower taps then in to the toilet cistern- obviously not done by a tradesman.  Are you interested in a photo?

Encouraged by your advice, last week I emailed SM demanding he apply to NCAT for Interim orders to have the issue resolved urgently. 

SM replied that he could not get an NCAT order on my behalf & I would have to apply initially.  He suggests another cheaper option would be mediation through fair trading! 

I appreciate your advice so far but what should my next move be?

Billy

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JimmyT
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07/10/2018 - 10:50 pm
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Explain to the strata manager that since this is a common property problem, he or the committee need to take action. This is not something you can do as an individual owner.

However, what you can do is take action against the strata manager or the committee, under Section 232, 1(e) and 2,  to make them do their job as required by Section 106 of the Act.

So, if you do go to Fair Trading, it will be as the first step in compelling the Owners Corporation (the committee) to

a) Fix the problem and

b)  Pay you compensation

c) Sack the committee

d) Replace the strata manager

Finally, you might suggest the strata manager take a few moments to read the Strata Schemes Management Act and maybe go back to strata manager school because they aren’t doing their job and don’t even seem to know what it is.

Meanwhile tell them you will be sending the committee a bill for the lost rent (which you should do).  If they fail to pay, you will raise an action at the small claims court.

And if you really are $16,000 out of pocket, now would be a really good time to call an experienced strata lawyer and ask their advice.

No point in sending us a picture. We won’t be taking any action on your behalf and external pipes could be a design feature for all we know.

Remember my comment about “faffing around”? It’s time for you to take action and it sounds like you need to get someone to help. 

If you don’t want to go straight to a lawyer, drop Nick Penny a line on nickp@intensive-care.com.au and direct him to this discussion.  He will advise you for a fee but it will be worth it if you get things moving.

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