Flat Chat Strata Forum Common Property Current Page

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  • #72418
    waterboy
    Flatchatter

      Hi everyone, I am seeking advices / ideas on how to proceed as a unit owner, regarding water ingress issue and by-law on “Common Property Rights”.

      If there are any crucial information missing, please let me know.

      Background information:
      – My apartment is based in Sydney, NSW. I am a unit owner and this is my first “house”.
      – This is a new off-the-plan apartment built in 2019. I moved in late 2019.
      – Since late 2022 until now, I am currently renting out my unit to tenant.
      – My apartment has Building Manager and Strata Manager.
      – In Feb 2020, my bedroom had water ingress. Water was leaking from under the skirting board, destroying the carpet eventually.
      Building Manager & Strata Manager pulled in Builder to investigate and fix the issue. Builder made some holes on the lower part of walls, put in concrete onto lower parts of wall, patched the wall up, painted over it, attached skirting board and installed new carpet. Builder guaranteed no future leaks.
      – In Nov 2020, water leakage occurred again. It took two months for something substantial to happen.
      – In March 2021, Building Manager hired an independent building consultant to determine responsibility as Builder pointed at Strata as being responsible on the grounds of “ill-maintained pipes” as the cause of leakage.
      Strata informed me that the Builder and Independent Consultant will do a “Joint Destructive Investigation” to determine the source of water ingress. They set off to remove skirting boards, make numerous holes in the bedroom wall and looked inside for “trails”.
      (IMPORTANT NOTE) Builder made holes in shower by removing two or three tiles off shower wall below shower head, and looked for indication of leaking pipes, etc. Builder also sprayed water around shower, thinking the water comes from the shower, leaking into the adjacent bedroom.
      Independent consultant (IC) theorised that water comes from outside, and suspect balcony. IC used dye test on my balcony and nearby balcony, and found that the source comes from adjacent balcony of nearby unit. Builder found to be responsible for shoddy workmanship in waterproofing said balcony.
      Builder rectified using polyurethane joint sealant on the balcony balustrade wall, and repairing / replacing plasterboard wall lining, installing skirting, repairing shower tiles, and install new carpet.

      Current Situation:
      Last week, my tenant informed me that the carpet is getting more wetter.
      I asked Building Manager to fix the water ingress issue again. He gave a vague answer – he is “committed to resolving the issue of leak penetration and make every effort to reach satisfactory resolution”.

      Strata has sent an email for the upcoming AGM, attaching an Agenda. This Agenda stated that the Builder has gone into liquidation, and Owner Corporation (OC) has withdrawn proceeding against Builder in NCAT.
      This is particular important as I suspected it means Strata (Strata Manager or Building Manager or both) will not help me with the water ingress issue.

      Builder Manager came with a “builder” during a “surprise visit” in which my tenants did not expect, in order to carry out the investigation. My tenants informed me of that after they have left.

      One day after, Building Manager emailed me, and stated that they have tested the shower, which revealed hairline cracks in the grouts of the tiles, noting shower usage resulted in water penetration into adjacent bedroom. He stated that this is a clear cause-and-effect relationship between shower use and water penetration. He specifically pointed out that it is fresh and unrelated to stormwater events.
      He referred to ByLaw on Common Property Rights, stating that it is my responsibility to maintain shower base tiles, grouts and areas within the shower, not OC. He also stated that it is my responsibility to replace the carpet as well.  He closed my case.

      I went to my unit to do my own investigation. The shower has hand-held shower head. I used hand-held shower head to spray at the tiles opposite shower head holder i.e. facing away, for more than 5 minutes. No water penetration has occurred.
      I changed position and aimed at tiles below shower head holder. It is confirmed that the water started leaking into adjacent bedroom.
      I spoke to the tenants, and they confirmed that all these months of using the shower, the shower head water-flow was always facing opposite the shower head holder side, hence no water leakage until recently.

      Questions
      – What role does a Builder Manager play in addressing this issue?
      – I think since the destructive investigation in March 2021, the Builder did not repair the shower properly when re-grouting after putting the tiles back in, and using poor quality silicon caulking.
      I also suspect that it is possible the joint sealant may have failed due to poor quality or shoddy installation, resulting in water penetration from adjacent balcony into the bedroom again.
      I am not sure how to go around this – should I email back to Builder Manager, and pointed out that this water leakage was the result of the Builder’s actions during the Destructive Investigation, and therefore ByLaw does not apply since it was the fault of the Builder’s workmanship.
      However, since the Builder has gone into liquidation, I think it falls onto OC or it doesn’t?
      – If Building Manager does not agree, and insisted that it is my responsibility to fix everything, what recourse can I take?
      Should I go to Fair Trading to make a complaint about the Strata (Building Manager & Strata Manager)?

      I can provide pictures, but I do not know whether the Forum allows or not. I am concerned about the potential identification should I post the pictures up. I can provide the pictures through PM if this is allowable.

      • This topic was modified 3 months, 3 weeks ago by .
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    • #72445
      kaindub
      Flatchatter

        A case of the tail wagging the dog.

        The strata manager and the building manager are agents of the owners. The SM and the BM do the work instructed to the by the owners.

        The opinion of the BM does not matter, the BM can make a report (he needs to be qualified or get an expert to make that report) to the committee and the committee decides what is done next.

        To me its clear that there are some building defects. Its unfortunate that the builder has one broke. It then leaves it up to the OC to effect repairs.

        Recent court cases have said that the OC cant just sit on their hands whilst some background processes are happening. The OC needs to effect repairs so that occupants are not inconvenienced

        I’d put my complaint in writing to the strata manager explaining exactly the problem, and any remedial actions taken.

        Id give the committee two months to act, and then seek mediation at Fair Trading as a precursor to getting an order at NCAT.

         

         

         

        #72447
        Just Asking
        Flatchatter

          Hi Waterboy,

          It would be helpful to know whether the affected wall is part of the boundary of your apartment, or is internal to your lot?

          Waterproofing in a shower is not reliant upon the tiles and grout, it is the membrane underneath that does the work.

          If the problem is in a common property wall, notwithstanding your obligation to maintain tiles and grout, it would be for the owners corporation to repair defective waterproofing. Your costs for repairing the carpet and skirting would be claimable from the owners corporation. Hence the question about the location of the leaky wall.

          Likewise with the adjacent balcony, it is the membrane beneath the tiles which does the work of waterproofing and replacing sealant on a joint may work but will likely need re-doing when the sealant deteriorates. You may indeed have water ingress from 2 sources, the adjacent balcony and your shower.

          You should address your concerns to the Secretary of the owners corporation and the strata managing agent. The owners corporation remains responsible for the waterproofing to common property even though the builder has gone, and you have only 2 years to claim for new damage to carpets and skirting.

           

          #72478
          waterboy
          Flatchatter
          Chat-starter

            JustAsking,
            Here’s the rough floorplan that I have drawn, not really up to scale but the best I could do, and the photo of bedroom / Bathroom.

             

            #72471
            waterboy
            Flatchatter
            Chat-starter

              Thank you for your replies, Kaindub and JustAsking. It makes me feel appreciated that someone is trying to help out.

              To let you know about the Building Manager’s way of communicating, I find that all of his correspondences rarely address my questions directly, or advise what course of action he will take, to avoid the possibility of taking responsibility so that anything that goes wrong, cannot be pinned down on him. That’s the type of person he is, especially given his lawyer background.

              The Owner Corporation is mostly run by Strata Manager (who is a silent type), and Building Manager who does most of the talking. Not many owners attend this meeting. Last meeting I attended last year, it was probably 3 people who attended.

              NOTE – I made a mistake in the chronicle order.
              Bathroom investigation took place circa March 2021.
              Destructive Joint Investigation took place circa October 2022. I couldn’t remember whether the Builder did open up the bathroom again to investigate, but I think they didn’t as they only open up the bedroom walls.

              Kaindub – So I’m not sure, as an Owner, how I can make the Owner Corporation direct Building Manager do this or that?

              Since I couldn’t find any emails to pin the Building Manager based on his words, it is very likely he will point to the Builder, or use the By-Laws Common Property (which he did already as per email below).

              This is his latest email, and you can see the tone of his email:
              Dear xxxxx,

              I hope this email finds you well. I want to bring to your attention the recent assessment we conducted in your unit, located at xxxx. Our findings indicate that there are significant issues that require your immediate attention and action.

              Upon our inspection, we discovered the following concerns:

              Carpet Condition: We lifted the carpet and found extensive mold, indicating that it requires complete removal to prevent any health hazards to the tenant.

              Shower Issues: Testing the shower revealed multiple hairline cracks in the grout of the tiles and suspicious conditions with the silicon caulking around the base. Notably, using the shower resulted in water penetration into the adjacent bedroom within five minutes. This clear cause-and-effect relationship between shower use and water penetration suggests an ongoing issue. It’s important to note that the water within the bedroom appears fresh and unrelated to stormwater events.

              As per Bylaw Number 35 of the Synergy bylaws, the responsibility for maintaining the shower base tiles, grout, and areas within the shower falls upon individual owners, not the owners corporation. Therefore, the repair of these issues, including the regrout of the tiles and the application of a clear sealer on the shower walls and floor, is your responsibility and will be at your cost.

              We have attached photos and videos for your reference to better understand the situation. To address these issues promptly, we recommend that you have the carpet removed as soon as possible to eliminate any health hazards for the tenant. Additionally, our plumber will provide you with a quotation for the necessary repairs to the shower.

              From a Strata perspective, please be aware that we consider this issue closed, and it is now in your hands to rectify these matters in a timely manner.

              If you have any questions or require further information, please do not hesitate to contact us. We are here to assist you in resolving these issues efficiently.

              Thank you for your prompt attention to this matter.

              With kind regards, “

              JustAsking – I will attach the photos of the bedroom and a rough floorpan that I have drawn, in the next comment box due to file limitation upload so that you could see where things are.

               

              #72492
              Jimmy-T
              Keymaster

                This information sheet says that lot owners are responsible for both internal walls and water damage where the source is inside the lot.  According to your floor plan, both apply here.

                However, if the unit is less than six years old, the developer or builder may be responsible for poor workmanship.  I don’t think this has anything to do with the strata scheme or building manager as it seems it is not common property and isn’t affecting another lot.

                The opinions offered in these Forum posts and replies are not intended to be taken as legal advice. Readers with serious issues should consult experienced strata lawyers.
                #72495
                Just Asking
                Flatchatter

                  Hi Waterboy,

                  I agree with Jimmy, from your floor plan it appears to be an internal problem, and thus for you to fix.

                  However, I do note it seemed odd to me that the wetness penetration is on the opposite side of the bathroom to that where the tiles were removed. The photos show the shower spray directed at the floor. I am wondering if the water is being introduced into your apartment’s floor slab through the shower floor?

                  To investigate this you would need to engage a high level waterproofing consultant to conduct methodical testing, likely including dyes. Then, if the problem is found to be in the floor waterproofing and you do claim against the owners corporation it is possible they will apply a sealant to the shower floor. You would save time and money just moving ahead now and doing this work yourself, especially as the apartment is tenanted and you cannot leave your tenant living with water and mould problems.

                  It may be worth asking your neighbours if anybody else has a similar problem? If bathrooms generally have been poorly waterproofed it is only a matter of time before the apartments below start to show damage.

                   

                  #72494
                  waterboy
                  Flatchatter
                  Chat-starter

                    This information sheet says that lot owners are responsible for both internal walls and water damage where the source is inside the lot. According to your floor plan, both apply here.

                    However, if the unit is less than six years old, the developer or builder may be responsible for poor workmanship. I don’t think this has anything to do with the strata scheme or building manager as it seems it is not common property and isn’t affecting another lot.

                    The unit is less than six years old. When the Builder were investigating the source of leak with Building Manager, they opened up the bathroom tiles and then fixed it back. It happened on two occasions.

                    Unfortunately the Builder has gone into liquidation so it would be hard to pressure the Builder to fix the bathroom. I believe the Common Property by-law applies in this situation and I believe that Owner Corporation needs to pay for this because the water leakage all came from poor waterproofing of the balcony next door unit, which leaked into my bedroom, and the Builder thought it came from the bathroom which wasn’t the case after investigation.

                    I don’t understand why I have to bear the cost when it was originally Common Property issue (water ingress from balcony), which leads to damage to bathroom during investigation.

                    #72498
                    Jimmy-T
                    Keymaster

                      If you’re saying that the owners corp tradies caused the problem when they were trying to fix another problem, then, yes, you can claim against the OC.

                      The opinions offered in these Forum posts and replies are not intended to be taken as legal advice. Readers with serious issues should consult experienced strata lawyers.
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