Whether you are an owner or property manager – it is absolutely crucial to understand the division of responsibilities between the private lot and the owners corporation. Often when uncertainty arises, it can helpful to contact your Owners Corporation Manager. The Owners Corporation Manager retains the records of the OC, and should be across the Plan of Subdivision and the building.
Common Areas vs. Individual Units
In principle, the concept is very straightforward:
- The Owners Corporation is responsible for repairing and maintaining common property and services; and
- The Lot Owner is responsible for repairing and maintaining anything else that isn’t common property or a common service.
However in the course of a building’s life cycle the conversations and discussions about who repairs and pays for what can become more complex. Owners should go through the following to help understand what they should and shouldn’t have to pay for:
- The Plan of Subdivision, which can be obtained from Landata Victoria or by requesting for it from your Owners Corporation Manager;
- A copy of any special resolutions that have been passed by the Owners Corporation – which can be requested from your Owners Corporation Manager; and
- Understanding whether or not the benefits principle applies in the given situation, which can be also a discussion to be had with your Committee and your Owners Corporation Manager.
- Consider whether there might be another party that might be responsible and liable to pay for the repairs i.e. the builder, any subcontractors, manufacturer warranties, builders’ warranty insurance, Cladding Safety Victoria, etc.;
- Review whether there are any applicable VCAT or other rulings that might impact the given situation.
Essential Maintenance and Repairs Covered by Body Corporate
Repairs and maintenance tasks that typically fall under the responsibility of the body corporate / owners corporation include:
- Repair/replacement of common area lobbies, hallways, stairwells, etc;
- Repair/replacement of structural elements such as the foundation, external walls, the roof, etc;
- Repair/replacement of gutters and downpipes;
- Repair/replacement of the exterior of the building including the façade, doors, windows, and common external areas;
- Repair/replacement of common services such as plumbing systems, electrical systems, common sewer pipes, common utility systems, heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems serving common areas, intercoms, etc.;
- Service, repair, and replacement of lifts and elevators;
- Service, repair, and replacement of shared use garage doors and gates;
- Repair and maintenance of common facilities and amenities such as gardens, swimming pools, tennis courts, BBQ areas, saunas, benches, lounges, etc.
Section 46 of the Owners Corporations Act 2006 stipulates that the Owners Corporation must repair and maintain common property. Buildings often achieve this legal requirement through discussions at the AGMs, the work of the volunteer Committee, and sound input from a good/proactive owners corporation manager.
Timely and property repair of common property not only maintains property value of buildings but also helps owners to minimalises safety and legal risks.
Owner Responsibilities and Contributions
Individual property owners are responsible for repairs and maintenance tasks associated with any private property within their lot, these include:
- Internal walls and partitions;
- Flooring coverings within the lot;
- Painting and decorating within the lot;
- Fixtures and fittings within the lot;
- Plumbing and electrical systems within the lot;
- Air conditioning and heating units servicing the lot
- Appliances and electronics within the lot; and
- Personal belongings, items, and property within the lot.
It is also worth noting that:
- Property owners also cannot neglect maintenance over the long run as this may have other implications and costs i.e. it is affects another lot owner or common property or another party;
- Property owners cannot repair/maintain common property or adversely impact the outward appearance of the building.
Sections 48 and 129 of the Owners Corporations Act 2006 stipulate:
One of our OC managers relayed the story a lot owner deliberately painting the exterior of his apartment – against the Owners Corporation’s advice. The lot owner was then subsequently ordered by VCAT re-instate the exterior appearance to what it was previously – at his own (significant) expense.
Dispute Resolution and Communication
Effective communication and record keeping will greatly reduce disputes or misunderstandings within the Owners Corporation. Both of these functions, whilst assisted by a proactive Committee, are ultimately the purview and responsibility of the Owners Corporation Manager.
It is also important for all owners and the Owners Corporation to understand responsibility for repairs, urgency of repairs, proper contribution to repair funds, quality of repairs, and the enforcement of necessary repairs to be undertaken.
When disputes do arise, it is often beneficial for the Committee and Owners Corporation Manager to try their best to meditate the matter before it gets to VCAT.
Effective management of an Owners Corporation is achieved by having a professional owners corporation manager providing you with clarify and clear communication. The objective of every building and Owners Corporation in Victoria should be to plan, discuss, raise funds, and execute timely repairs and maintenance. Implementing this approach ensures a well maintained building, protect asset values, and results in a harmonious environment for all stakeholders.
If your Owners Corporation Management Company isn’t providing your building with professional guidance when it comes to repairs and maintenance then they’re not doing their job. Speak to us about reviewing the management of your building in consultation with your Committee. We work with professional OC management companies who get the job done – contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or 1300 917 848.