29/04/2019 at 6:56 pm #37234
Context: small block of 6 apartments; interwar
Scenario: one of the apartments needs to be rewired; the electrician describes the issue as one of cotton insulation breaking down and causing nuisance tripping and power faults. (It’s also my understanding that at least some of the wiring in that apartment is not chased into the walls but is running along architraves and skirting boards.) No one is questioning the need for the work to be done.
The owner of the apartment has obtained a quote that includes rewiring all circuits, replacing all light switches and power points, possible chasing and conduit works and replacing the smoke alarms. The quote doesn’t specify which elements of the rewiring would involve common property and which not.
The strata manager on behalf of the SC/OC (all six owners are members of the SC) has obtained a quote that includes full rewiring and specifies running cable from the main board, as well as replacing the smoke alarm; identifies the likely need for chasing or external duct work. This quote itemises a division of cost between internal and external/common.
The other owners and I are agreeable to a splitting of the cost between the OC and the apartment owner based on this second quote. As I understand it, this is right and appropriate based on information I’ve found in a document from the NSW Office of Fair Trading as well as the SCA’s “Who’s Responsible” publication, which I found quoted here on a previous search.
But the apartment owner believes that the OC should be paying for the job in its entirety “because the electrical system is in the common area”.
The owner has requested a Fair Trading mediation meeting.
(This meeting was requested before anyone else in the SC was even aware of the need for rewiring, i.e. the owner at that stage had been in contact only with the strata manager.)
I could understand the apartment owner wanting to negotiate around the exact cost of each portion (internal vs common) and/or to want a third quote along those lines, but that hasn’t been their strategy. They are simply claiming that the electrical system is [entirely] in the common area and that the OC pay the full cost. These claims seem unsustainable to me. (And yet the apartment owner has, to date, struck me as an astute and knowledgeable person, shrewd even, when it comes to matters arising in our building…)
Given that it seems to be quite clearly set out as to who is responsible for what in a scenario like this, is it realistic for the apartment owner to expect that the Fair Trading mediation meeting will result in the OC agreeing – or being advised – to pay the full cost of the rewiring? What should we, the other owners, be prepared for?
[Apologies if this topic has been raised in some form previously: the forum search box isn’t working at present (can’t click in it, and have tried both Chrome and Safari).]
30/04/2019 at 2:40 pm #37240
- This topic was modified 2 weeks, 6 days ago by Jimmy-T.
Fair Trading says you can use the Common Property Memorandum to “clarify” who’s responsible, although it doesn’t have a direct effect unless it has been adopted as a by-law. That said, NCAT is likely to use the Memorandum as a guideline for it’s decisions.
So, what it says is that common property includes
- fuses and a fuse board in a meter room,
- electrical wiring serving more than one lot
- light fittings serving more than one lot
- power point sockets serving more than one lot
- smoke detectors whether connected to the fire board in the building or not (and other fire safety equipment subject to the regulations made under Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979)
Lot responsibility includes:
- fuses and fuse boards within the lot and serving only that lot
- electrical wiring in non-common property walls within a lot and serving only that lot
- light fittings, light switches and power point sockets within the lot, serving only that lot
So where does that leave Erte? If the wiring is going inside non common property walls, then the owner should pay for that themselves. The same applies to sockets that are outlets on any walls.
But what about the wiring that is currently on the internal surface of the common property walls, and is going to be concealed within those walls?
The owners corp would be within its rights to say that the owner can’t use common property walls without OC permission, so that might be a starting point for negotiations (which you might hope would be less combative thereafter.
So go to Fair Trading for mediation by all means – but remember what that is all about: compromise and reaching a mutually acceptable solution. If you want a definitive ruling, you will have to go to NCAT.