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  • #60943
    GreyArea
    Flatchatter

    We recently bought the top level of a block of seven and became involved in the  Owners Corporation after discovering the strata was “self managed” by an owner who lives offshore.

    We resolved this within months and held an EGM to appoint external strata manager.

    One of the first tasks of the manager was to ensure fire inspections were being done as per the law but also to ensure we compared the market to get the best possible relationship and to ensure this was not “set and forget”.

    The newly-appointed inspectors have come back with a report showing the building (built in the 1930s) is non-compliant in a number of areas which is concerning.

    If the previous inspectors did not highlight the non-compliant issues, what recourse do we have in asking for a “please explain” – given the new owners in the building are now up for costs that previous owners might not have been aware of or attended to?

    Many thanks to all and for Jimmy for this terrific forum.

Viewing 7 replies - 1 through 7 (of 7 total)
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  • #61000
    Jimmy-T
    Keymaster

    There’s a general principle in strata that, provided previous members of the committee and owners in general have acted in good faith, they can’t be held liable for decisions that later turn out to have been an error.

    In theory, all owners are responsible for the decisions made by the committee, on the grounds that they collectively, could have overturned them at a general meeting.

    It might be different if there was proof of some sort of corrupt behaviour  from which individuals had benefitted, but even then it would be difficult to prove and pursue.

    This is just one of those occasions when you have to put it down to experience and move on, a little poorer but slightly wiser.

    #61002
    Austman
    Flatchatter

    the decisions made by the committee

    I read the OP’s post a bit differently.  More that it was:

    the previous inspectors did not highlight the non-compliant issues

    Unfortunately this happens all the time.   It’s commonplace in all my stratas I would say.  The reason is that fire safety compliance can be very subjective.  And inspectors are not always very qualified or thorough.

    Strictly speaking, I doubt a single strata building exists in Australia that is fully complaint.   Even if you use the same inspection company, they can unexpectedly report matters that even their own company missed for years on end.

    It’s the nature of the beast, so to speak.   It’s very subjective, opinionated and the only reference used will be current standards which change all the time.

    Slowly, the whole fire safety compliance industry is being regulated.

    But is that what we need? Even more regulation?

    In this area, perhaps, we do.

     

     

     

    #61008
    Jimmy-T
    Keymaster

    I read the OP’s post a bit differently.

    I was referring generally to any liability of committee members for past decisions that turn out to be wrong.  In this specific case, it was hiring a certain fire safety consultant or not being overly diligent in pursuing fire safety measures.

    But yes, they are asking for a “please explain” and they are entitled to that, for sure.

    #61033
    david2708
    Flatchatter

    From what I have gathered-and I may be mistaken- each individual council in NSW have their own autonomy with  fire safety compliance in residential buildings.

    One council, ie Sydney City Council,  I think requires all residential buildings to be fire audited, but the Inner West council limit it to only certain types of residential buildings.

    They can change it with a stroke of a pen, but some residential properties can skate on by with no fire safety infrastructure in place at all depending on what council you reside in in NSW.

    And in terms of building insurance, it’s a question that’s never been put to me when the renewal comes up each year.

    Whether my particular building is armed to the teeth with fire safety infrastructure or none all all.

    #61035
    spmanager
    Flatchatter

    Hi I see two issues here.

    1.The responsibilities of the Committee.

    2. The responsibilities of the fire safety inspectors.

    The responsibilities of the SC are Legislated in NSW, but yes a question could and should be asked. Did they use a qualified inspector?

    For the inspectors the question is what were they engaged to do. If it is the Annual Fire Safety Inspection that is required by the Local council. Then they are given a safety schedule by the Council and their job is to check the items listed and confirm if they are onsite and they comply with the fire code supplied by council for that item.

    Their job is not to do an audit of the property to see if the property complies with the most resent fire codes. A goof company should have sent a separate lost of recommendations that would bring the property up to current standards. But it is not their job to make it comply.

    There would not a strata building in NSW that was built before 2000 that would comply with 2021 fire codes unless they have carried out rectification, because the fire codes have changed since the date of construction.

    But the good news, you have a report listing the issues. So you will now go and fix them all! The OC is aware of a safety issue then fix them, you don’t have a choice.

    #61036
    Austman
    Flatchatter

    they are asking for a “please explain” and they are entitled to that, for sure.

    Yes but from whom?

    The committee will not likely be able to explain why prior inspectors failed to find certain things.   And as the prior inspectors are no longer employed, they are not very likely to respond.

    At best the new inspectors will simply stick to their opinions and blame the former inspectors for not doing a thorough enough job.

    And so the blame circle goes around.

    Fire safety systems are an expensive annual item in many of my stratas around Australia.  In some it’s the number 2 annual expense after insurance.   And next to none of the owners or managers knows much about them.  Even the “professional” inspectors often disagree with each other.

    A good inspection company can be very good.  But there’s a lot of not so good ones out there.

     

     

     

     

     

    • This reply was modified 5 months ago by .
    #61972
    JT
    Flatchatter

    Unless the building owners are required to submit an Annual Fire Safety Statement to council, fire safety inspections & testing are only done at the request of the strata or manager, usually for insurance reasons.

    Some strata managers bring in fire protection companies to perform testing & inspections to cover their butt from liability claims.

    NSW regulations require smoke alarms to be tested annually & to be replaced when more than 10 years old.

    There are also regs specifying the quantities, locations & interconnected smoke alarms if there are more than 1 in a unit or house. They are also required in caravans, camper vans & boats – anywhere that people can sleep.

    FYI Some strata management businesses are paid by fire protection companies to be on their “preferred service provider” lists.

     

    JT – CFSP/FSA

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