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  • #61958
    giraffez
    Flatchatter

    Looking for some guidance.

    I have a strata unit and recently there has been some issues and I’m not sure who is responsible. My strata unit complex has a building property office as well – I’m not sure what they look after but *i think* they liaise with the builders. The property is around 6 years old still under warranty and my unit is on the top floor.

    I feel like being fobbed around between the strata manager and the building manager both pushing the responsibility of fixing to me.  Appreciate any help in going about this.

    There are 3 issues:

    1. There are some cracks that have developed. The sealant around the window seems to have gaps and there are cracks forming at the top which in this case is technically the ceiling wall. The NSW gov site says that windows and ceiling are strata issues – when I contacted strata, they said this is my responsibility.  Photo attached

    2. A huge crack has developed at the ceiling corner of one of the rooms. It’s a massive crack and when I contacted building management, they said the builder says its not their problem. My unit is still under warranty. But it looks massive and definitely more than 2mm gap (which was what strata told me determines whether its owners issue or builder’s issue).  Photo attached

    3. One of the walls seems to have water stained from the recent rains. My unit is on the top floor. There appears to be some leak somewhere. This is going to be a bit of a task to locate where it is coming in, but at the moment looks to be from the roof. I’m on the top floor so there is no other apartment above me

    There are only 4 levels in this building complex.  Around 100 units.

    Are these strata responsibility to fix or mine?

    Thanks

    • This topic was modified 4 months, 2 weeks ago by .
Viewing 15 replies - 1 through 15 (of 15 total)
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  • #61962
    Jimmy-T
    Keymaster

    You need to get professional strata legal advice as soon as possible and you need to get your strata committee involved.

    These all look like common property defects and they should be fixed under the statutory warranties. They may also be an indication of other serious defects in the building.

    It also seems as though the builder, strata manager and developer are happy to lie to you to run down the clock on the defects.

    Do not waste another second wondering about this.  Call a strata lawyer today.  There are a couple of excellent ones listed at the top of the page

    • This reply was modified 5 months ago by .
    #61964
    giraffez
    Flatchatter
    Chat-starter

    Before I lawyer up, I just want to find out where I stand.

    Is it absolutely clear here these are building defects and as a result should be covered under building insurance – are there grey areas?  According to fair trading, this falls under body corp but I assume building warranty would be executed first.   https://www.nsw.gov.au/housing-and-property/strata/living/repairs-and-maintenance

    If everyone refuses responsibility, can the dept of fair trading step in?

    I have a building manager and it is my understanding this is hired by the body corp to take care of issues like this?  Is that their role, are they suppose to advocate on my behalf.

    How do I find out whether other properties in the complex have the same issues, can strata tell me?

     

    #61966
    Jimmy-T
    Keymaster

    Is it absolutely clear here these are building defects and as a result should be covered under building insurance – are there grey areas?

    They are defects in common property and that’s al you need to know. The Owners Corp is legally obliged to get them fixed. If they are “building defects”, i.e. they are the result of poor construction, up to the first six years, the Owners Corp can demand that the builder fix them.

    According to fair trading, this falls under body corp but I assume building warranty would be executed first. https://www.nsw.gov.au/housing-and-property/strata/living/repairs-and-maintenance.

    Correct – but time is running out for you if the block is already six years old.

    If everyone refuses responsibility, can the dept of fair trading step in?

    No.  Fair Trading doesn’t take action in these cases.  Owners take action at the tribunal (NCAT) but first need to seek mediation at Fair Trading.  If your Owners Corp is not taking action then you and other owners have to do it.

    I have a building manager and it is my understanding this is hired by the body corp to take care of issues like this? Is that their role, are they suppose to advocate on my behalf?

    The building manager does what the committee/owners corp wants them to do.  If the committee and/or building manager is in cahoots with the developer, that is just as likely to be covering up defects as it is getting them fixed.

    How do I find out whether other properties in the complex have the same issues, can strata tell me?

    You can arrange to go to your strata manager’s office (by appointment) and look at all the correspondence from other owners.  It costs about $35.  You can also ask to see their addresses and email addresses and you can write to them and ask if they have noticed any issues and what happened when they reported them.  Your strata manager may refuse to give the addresses to you citing privacy.  This is total BS and you should point out that Privacy laws don’t apply to owners corporations.

    I don’t mean to be insulting, but judging by your questions and clear lack of understanding of the processes and pitfalls facing you, you really need to get professional advice and do so soon before the six-year warranty period runs out.

    If talking to a lawyer feels like a bridge too far, contact our sponsors StrataAnswers and they will provide common sense advice on what steps to take next (for a modest fee).

    Judging by what you have said, you are being deliberately misled by your building manager and that makes me think they might be more concerned about keeping the developer happy than looking after apartment owners.

     

    • This reply was modified 5 months ago by .
    #61976
    Austman
    Flatchatter

    I’d agree that the OP needs professional strata advice.   Urgently.

    But I’d like to note that not all walls are necessarily common property.    For example nonstructural internal walls.   And there can be other circumstances, depending on the strata plan.  It’s not always 100% clear.  If under warranty, even if not common property, they’d still be a matter for the builder.

    The professional advice would sort all that out.

     

    #61978
    Jimmy-T
    Keymaster

    But I’d like to note that not all walls are necessarily common property.

    True.  I was distracted by the 2mm rule, that anything smaller than that was the lot owner’s responsibility.

    #61981
    giraffez
    Flatchatter
    Chat-starter

    They are defects in common property and that’s al you need to know. The Owners Corp is legally obliged to get them fixed. If they are “building defects”, i.e. they are the result of poor construction, up to the first six years, the Owners Corp can demand that the builder fix them.

    Thanks for the good advice.  The crack is in one of the bedrooms, is that still considered common property?   How much power does the building manager / owners corp have in demanding builder to fix?

    Correct – but time is running out for you if the block is already six years old.

    Isn’t body corp still available after the warranty period?  If all fails, doesn’t it eventually land with body corp?

    #61982
    giraffez
    Flatchatter
    Chat-starter

    True.  I was distracted by the 2mm rule, that anything smaller than that was the lot owner’s responsibility.

    I was also told this rule, but according to the department of fair trading website, it says if it is ceiling, its owners corp responsibility.  So for my first issue on the window, the cracks are technically on the ceiling and the window is considered common property.  So both will fall under owners corp?

    #61992
    Jimmy-T
    Keymaster

    Isn’t body corp still available after the warranty period?  If all fails, doesn’t it eventually land with body corp?

    Yes, but if it’s a building defect, the builder/developer should fix it in the first six years.  Okay, the owners corp carries the can thereafter, but that means you are paying ashare of all the repairs (and all the others that are found in other apartments).

    You might be able to get the builder to fix defects after the developer warranty period expires, but it’s a lot harder.

    Also, new buildings should have a defects bond that can be accessed to pay for defects.  if you don’t make a claim, the developer pockets the money.

    Get professional advice or you and your neighbours will be taken for mugs.

    • This reply was modified 5 months ago by .
    #61999
    giraffez
    Flatchatter
    Chat-starter

    Ah okay got you thanks.

    These all look like common property defects and they should be fixed under the statutory warranties.

    can you clarify this “common property” for me please.  So all the issues are within my unit, it’s not a shared space.  Why do you say it’s common property?

    #62001
    Jimmy-T
    Keymaster

    Why do you say it’s common property?

    Technically, you only own what’s inside the the external walls of your apartment, plus or minus a few specific exceptions. Your windows and balcony, if you have one, are common property.  The concrete slab under your flooring is common property, as is the ceiling.  Your front door and the closure mechanism attached to it are both common property.

    Look at it this way, anything around or inside your unit that is shared by or might impact on a neighbour above, below or next to you, plus adjacent common property areas too, are all common property.  You own the air inside the apartment and any non-load-bearing walls withing the area too.

    You own and are responsible for a share in common property which is why you need to get on to your defects ASAP – because you will end up paying a share of the cost of fixing issues in other apartments if you don’t.

    All of which leads me to beseech you to ask a professional for their advice because I am sensing you are way out of your depth here and that is being taken advantage of by your developer, builder and maybe even your building manager.

    #62006
    Austman
    Flatchatter

    Get the professional advice.

    It’s most likely that the walls etc where the problems are will be common property and a strata maintenance responsibility.

    But it’s not 100% guaranteed because the strata plan can designate things differently and sometimes owners move walls, even external walls, or do other alterations that changes their status to a lot maintenance responsibility.  That’s actually happened in one of my strata apartment buildings in a top floor apartment.

    So while they are almost certainly common property, especially if they are original, you need to be 100% sure.

    #62019
    giraffez
    Flatchatter
    Chat-starter

    Okay thanks all for all the advice.  This is so complicated and sounds like a very costly exercise whichever way I go.

     

    #62029
    Jimmy-T
    Keymaster

    This is so complicated and sounds like a very costly exercise whichever way I go.

    Not necessarily. Firstly you could contact StrataAnswers who provide a low-cost option for advice.  And you could get your committee to investigate defects in the building before it’s too late.  At least then the cost would be shared.

    If you are financially restricted, Marrickville Legal Centre provides free strata legal advice for the whole of NSW.  Just click here and fill in the form.

    But even if you can afford it, the right advice could save you thousands in the future.

    #62125
    S
    Flatchatter

    Hi Jimmy

    I was listening to the podcast and you mentioned being curious about the 2mm rule. I could only think they were quoting from The Guide to Standards and Tolerances:

    However, item 10.14 would imply over 1mm is defective.

    10.14 Cracking in plasterboard, hard plaster and other plaster elements

    Cracking in walls, ceilings and bulkheads is defective if it exists at handover or exceeds 1 mm in width within the first 24 months of completion and can be seen from a normal viewing position.

    Cracking in recessed and butt joints is defective if it exists at handover or exceeds 1 mm in width within the first 24 months of completion and can be seen from a normal viewing position.

     

    • This reply was modified 4 months, 2 weeks ago by .
    #62144
    Jimmy-T
    Keymaster

    This building manager is obviously employing the 3BS technique: Baffle them with bullshit then blind them with science.

    I hope the OP has taken our advice and sought professional assistance.

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