One of the most common contentious issues that arise between bodies corporate and owners within them relates to the maintenance of lots, and whether the owner or the body corporate is complying with their obligations under the Act.
The general rule of thumb is that the body corporate is required to maintain the common property in good and structurally sound condition, and owners must maintain their lot in good and structurally sound condition.
What falls within a body corporate’s obligation depends on the type of lot that the maintenance relates to – most commonly being either a standard format plan (commonly free-standing houses) or a building format plan (often apartments or duplexes).
Where a lot has been created under a building format plan of subdivision, the body corporate’s obligations extend to maintaining, in some circumstances, (including but not limited to) balustrades, doors and windows, roofing membranes, foundation and roofing structures, and load-bearing walls.
There are many other instances where each parties’ obligations differ, which can become complex depending on the facts of the situation. For example, the maintenance obligations of an exclusive use allocation depend on the by-laws of the scheme. These responsibilities are further complicated by the consideration of utility infrastructure, including washing machines, air-conditioners and solar panels.
Disputes often arise where one party is not upholding their maintenance responsibilities, resulting in damage to the other party or their property. Naturally, the dispute will then ultimately turn to whether the injured party can recover their costs in the matter.
If a body corporate repeatedly fails to adequately maintain the common property, owners can seek enforcement of the body corporate’s obligation with the Office of the Commissioner for Body Corporate and Community Management. Should the matter proceed to litigation, a body corporate may be liable for the costs incurred by an owner as a result of that failure to maintain the common property.
Where a lot owner fails to maintain their lot or any other area which they are obligated to maintain (such as an exclusive use area) in good condition, the body corporate is empowered to recover costs from owners whose actions cause on contribute to the damage or deterioration of a lot.
No two circumstances as it relates to maintenance obligations will be identical. If you are having trouble with maintenance obligations, please contact our office to seek specified legal advice.