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Leak from unit above, owners won't fix...

Discussion in 'Property Management' started by Lawry, 3rd May, 2016.

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  1. Lawry

    Lawry Member

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    We have a problem with water leaking through the ceiling/ walls of our IP apartment every time there is heavy rain.
    Strata mgt have said its due to a problem in the unit above, not common property. They've asked the owner but so far they've failed to get it fixed.
    This is impacting us as the tenants have terminated their lease and are moving out, and prospective tenants are not being impressed by the water damage/ mould it has caused. we fixed this once already with an insurance claim and repainting etc, but we cant just keep doing that and have it re-damaged every time.
    What are our options for addressing this/ forcing the owner of the unit above to fix the problem?
    Note we don't live near the property and don't know the other owner.
    thanks
     
  2. neK

    neK Well-Known Member

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    How is this not a strata problem. I'm pretty sure that it's common property as the ceiling and floor are shared by two parties.

    Even the lock on your balcony is considered to be common property.

    I would speak to a strata lawyer and sort this one. Sounds like the straya manager is trying to pull a fast one over you.
     
  3. Marg4000

    Marg4000 Well-Known Member

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    This is a strata problem. Ensure you have put your complaint in writing and request it be put on the agenda for the next strata meeting, which you should endeavour to attend.
    Marg
     
  4. Russ

    Russ Well-Known Member

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    that depends on the accuracy of:
    but it is worth questioning the identified cause - being correlated to heavy rain sounds suspicious

    Simply because there is a slab between two units does not automatically make it a strata matter. The strata manager should be indifferent to the cause, with no reason to
    because it's not like the strata manager gets to keep leftover levies - they stay in the Strata Scheme's bank account.

    Ask the strata manager what the cause is known to be, for them to be able to say it's a problem in the unit above.

    In any case
    might be right answer because the areas of law will be within their focus regardless of whether it's OC or Lot Owner responsibility to fix. Even if it is Lot Owner, their advice might be to seek an NCAT order to make repairs and the OC can pursue the Lot Owner.

    But when you have lawyers involved it won't be cheap, $400 - $500/hr incl GST for the good strata ones.

    By the way, balcony door locks are only strata if the plan was registered after 1 July 1974, and they were not installed by a Lot Owner as permitted by subclause (3) of standard by-law 5, in which case subclause (5) makes it the Lot Owner responsibility.
     
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  5. Azazel

    Azazel Well-Known Member

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    Sometimes the top unit is responsible for the roof?
    Would expect the strata to sort it out regardless.
     
  6. neK

    neK Well-Known Member

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    @Russ strata manager might not get any funds, but what I'm referring to is them dusting off any responsibility so they can do as little work as possible.
     
  7. Chilliblue

    Chilliblue Well-Known Member

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    Write to your strata agent and the executive committee and advise them that the water is affecting common property as it would be if you are having water penetration. Ensure that you clearly document the damage to your property.

    Strata should then arrange a contractor to review and assess where the water is coming from and dependent on that review, either the lot owner or strata is responsible.

    Either way, you should request that a report be supplied in the next 14 days and that a plan of action be detailed.

    Would not go the legal route because as discussed above, a good one is around $500ph.
     
  8. Lawry

    Lawry Member

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    thanks for your responses, it will help with my follow up with Strata
     
  9. Azazel

    Azazel Well-Known Member

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    Good luck.
    Be pushy, but polite. As in don't take no for an acceptable answer.
     
  10. Chilliblue

    Chilliblue Well-Known Member

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    And document everything in writing

    Best of luck
     
  11. Ted Varrick

    Ted Varrick Well-Known Member

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    neK, if the strata manager were to behave in such a way, then it would be beneficial for Lawry to become a member of the Executive Committee as soon as possible (if he/she is not already), and then put their case to the other owners, add an agenda item at the next AGM (or, if they really want to give both barrels, call an Extraordinary General Meeting) and give the strata manager the boot.

    In my experience, over 20 years, with the exception of a few genuinely knowledgeable and dedicated SMAs (some of which very much look like they reside in our very own Property Chat forum), the majority of the Strata Management industry is ripe for, dare I say it out loud, a metaphorical colonic cleansing.

    And, as other posters have mentioned, Lawry might consider sitting down with a strata lawyer for an hour (and investing $500 or x weeks rent) to make sure that he/she is up to speed, as, whilst it doesnt sound ideal, I can assure you is money well spent (and, for the record, I'm not a strata lawyer...)
     
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  12. Russ

    Russ Well-Known Member

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    Time spent dealing with water ingress complaints and the management of related works are chargeable under most strata managers' agreements. What reason should their be to decline to do additional work for extra money, if the works really are an OC responsibilty?
     
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  13. neK

    neK Well-Known Member

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    Last few strata managers I had, this was all included. Sounds like you have more insight than me, guessing you work in strata.
     
  14. Russ

    Russ Well-Known Member

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    Yeah I'm a Managing Agent.

    In many cases R&M up to a point is a service included in the basic fee, but even in those agreements a defect or issue that causes water ingress should and usually would be chargeable.

    neK I agree with you, though, many agents won't want to help.

    If it was supposed to be included in the agreed services fee, they're not doing what they should (not uncommon but what do you do - unless you can credibly threaten to replace them?). If it's not in the agreed services fee they should attend to it and charge for time. Being realistic, how do you motivate someone to do something? You pay them. That's actually why the agency agreements increasingly allow charges for such works. There's almost infinite scope for problems to arise in a Strata Scheme - from behavioural, to building defect, major works requirements, politics, fights, financial problems, confusion, misunderstandings about OC vs Lot Owner responsibilities, etc, etc. $2K management fee doesn't cut it in the modern era, so those additional service charges are actually a really useful mechanism for the OC client to ensure that agents are motivated.

    Still, lots of people complain, but I think they've usually not considered the merit of the user-pay principle. Often they're unhappy with the service and find additional charges to be an insult on top of injury. Ultimately, what matters is: what do you get IN TOTAL (service and quality) and what do you pay IN TOTAL (base fee, additional service, and disbursements). Add to that: does the agency agreement motivate the agent to help us when we need it.

    I tend to post the counter-argument to some views on this site, to stimulate thought, hopefully to help. I'm not trying to pick a fight with you neK, your views are reasonable. I just think it's constructive to discuss how to make things work better, though, too.

    I still think the OP needs to ask the agent what they believe the cause to be, since they said it's a Lot Owner issue. They must have some expectation. Maybe the OP should ask the OC to inspect, as Chilliblue said, but that depends on what the agent's response is. For example, maybe the owner of the unit above added new tiles to their balcony, maybe without correct fall, waterproofing or flashing detail at the wall - so water could be penetrating through the balcony door and slab. Some readers might be very confident that they know who is responsible for this, but views expressed will probably over-simplify the situation. Sometimes it is complicated, and sometimes an issue actually is directly between Lot Owners even if it is a block of flats. Just because something happens in a block doesn't mean the OC has a role to play, nor the managing agent necessarily. It all depends on the actual circumstances.
     
    Last edited: 5th May, 2016
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  15. Pixie

    Pixie Active Member

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    I had similar issues (against the same owner who lived above me) with my strata unit /apt. The first time came from their renovations with the bathroom and no waterproof membrane or temporary measures was installed during demolition. Second was her tenant who busted the kitchen tap and water leaked down to my unit.

    Long story short is if the rain runoff is not collected in the downpipe then it's probably (1) poor stormwater design or poor construction (2) blocked downpipe. Walls , ceilings , pipes form to make up the building complex, cannot do without one or another. This problem is clearly a strata prob. Good luck
     
  16. Azazel

    Azazel Well-Known Member

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    Their be to decline is their own business. Who are we to say nay?