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  • #38558

    We are in a small commercial strata building which has a kitchen on common property and this is shared by occupants on that floor.  Nothing in our by-laws mentions kitchens or the use of electrical appliances and whitegoods etc on common property.  Someone has put a refrigerator and kettle in the shared kitchen, presumably for their own use.

    In the absence of any by-laws, what can we do about this if we don’t want the refrigerator there? And who is responsible for paying for the electricity used by the refrigerator (and kettle)?

    Can the strata manager send out a letter to owners and does the strata committee have the right to have the refrigerator removed — or is there some other way to resolve this?  We do not have a building manager so it’s not clear who would be responsible to act.


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  • #38643
    Sir Humphrey

    An option is to do nothing and see if the grumbler finds something else to worry about.


    Yes, it is a small building but there seems to be very little communication between lot occupiers…  I understand that the committee is not at all interested in getting involved so I think it might be best if the grumbler simply discussed his concerns with the other occupants on his floor and reached a compromise!  I think the note asking to discuss the fridge might be a good idea – maybe with the grumbler’s contact details on it.

    I guess some people have too much time on their hands…

    Sir Humphrey

    So, this is a ‘small building’. Talk, find out what people had in mind. Is this someone storing their personal goods on common property and not wanting others to use them or is it someone being generous – a kitchen without a kettle or fridge is not much use. It shouldn’t be hard to find out.


    Similar to the laundry issue (if my memory serves), if each lot owner installed their own fridge, then there would certainly be an issue (not enough space). Also, over time, I expect the “shared” fridge (assuming the owner of it is happy for other lots to use it to store their own things) will eventually get dirty and need cleaning, who is going to clean it? Finally, what happens in two years when the fridge stops working and needs repair/replacement, who will pay for that? Or pay for the disposal?

    I think this is a fairly simple issue:

    1) Whoever is using common property to store their fridge needs to get approval, and potentially pay for the exclusive use of the space. If they are happy to share the space with others, then potentially there is no cost.

    2) Once the committee agrees to permit the fridge on CP, they might also agree to cover the electricity costs.

    3) The committee might then agree to either take responsibility for the maintenance and management of the fridge, or might require the lot owner that “donated it” to cover the costs for maintenance/management.

    4) As for the kettle, similar to above, get permission from committee. Also, would the complaining party also have an issue with one lot owner storing a cup in the cupboard, or a plate, or some other object? A kettle could be considered the same as those other objects.

    5) Finally, some of the other items such as a microwave could be treated the same as the fridge, but a fryer or even a toaster might have significant issues in relation to fire/safety hazards, as well as a lot more cleaning implications. So, if you require approval for each appliance, then you can easily allow/disallow each item on it’s merit. Tacitly permitting items could lead to creeping boundaries, and real problems.

    Just my 2c… hope it helps.


    Yes, this sounds like a “small war, not many dead” situation.  If you can get a committee decision (from a ringaround, perhaps) that the kettle and fridge will stay and the owners corp will pay for the electricity, at least the grumbler will have someone to grumble to.

    But, honestly, some people just aren’t happy until they have something to complain about.  Just wait till the deep-fat fryer, microwave, rice cooker and George Foreman grill turn up.

    But seriously, a good compromise would be to get the committe to agree on what is allowed and what isn’t (see above list of appliances).

    Sir Humphrey

    Each state would have its equivalent of the Uncollected Goods Act (or similar title) that sets out what you have to do to legally dispose of someone else’s property when left on your property. A strata manager who manages more than a few properties should be across the process as they will have had to deal with this sort of issue often enough.

    I expect you are legally obliged to attempt to find the owner before you can dispose of their goods. Then, if they are sold without finding the owner, there might be a requirement to hold the proceeds in a trust account for some period of time. The stringency of the requirements varies with the estimated value of the goods. If the fridge is small and old, you might fall below a threshold that make the process relatively simple.

    Still, if you think it is actually quite handy to have the wherewithal to make a cup of tea or coffee and store some non-curdled milk, perhaps you could survey the other tenants and owners to see if they are happy to host a fridge and a kettle. If most are happy, the one upset occupant might be persuaded that it is not such a big deal.

    Before involving the manager and legal processes, I would ask around and put a note on the fridge door requesting a discussion with a committee member. Otherwise you might make the upset occupant happy but make another occupant unhappy, perhaps an occupant who thought they were just being nice and doing everyone a favour.

    • This reply was modified 1 year, 6 months ago by .

    Sir Humphrey, I totally agree with you (on a personal level) – but one of the occupants is quite upset about this and has officially complained about it so we just want to know what the rules are.

    I wonder if this situation might be similar to a previous post about a laundry where owners had brought in their own washing machines and the OC had the legal right to dispose of abandoned goods on common property  — or have I got that wrong?


    Sir Humphrey

    Wouldn’t  a kettle and a fridge in a shared kitchen be a useful thing? Perhaps someone feels they have been generous in donating them for general use?

    In the context of the total electricity consumption of a commercial building, the electricity consumption of one fridge and an occasionally used kettle is likely to be very minor.

    How about putting a note on them asking whoever put them there to contact a member fo the strata committee?

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