Tight Ass Owner Corporations
Senator David Shoebridge is currently heading an Upper House enquiry into building standards in New South Wales. The terms of reference focusses on builders and private certifiers in relation to new buildings. Without intending to lessen the need for such an enquiry, isn’t it missing something? It’s not taking into account the negligence of many Strata Committees and Owners Corporations.
Over the past twenty years, Leverage has been involved with cases, which could have been prevented with better corporate governance by Owner’s Corporations. We were advised that one of the buildings which is currently in the news, has had the apparent defect for four years. The construction of the complex next door exacerbated the problem, but it was a pre-existing problem. If it had been fixed by the Owners Corporation when they first knew about it, the building defect may not have actualised.
We are currently dealing with a matter for a person who lived on the twelfth floor of a strata building. This person has, for ten years, been facing roof leakages and leaking through the external windows. These are clearly common property obligations. He has now been without a tenant for nearly six months, while the Owners Corporation think about what they are going to do. The result is that, the Owners Corporation determined to reject the recommendations of a highly regarded waterproofing expert and put in place a band-aid solution.
The future of this matter, may look something like this ….
• At some stage, every top floor apartment owner will be affected;• The insurance premium for the building will rise;• At some stage, a special levy will have to be raised to pay for the repairs; or• The Owners Corporation will be involved in protracted litigation which will impact all lot owners.
Recently there was an article in the Canberra Times about a person whose body was found in their apartment in Charlestown. A note was found in their apartment indicating words to the effect that, she would be wise not to return to the apartment if she wished to live. This particular woman was a voice against the Strata Committee’s refusal to repair the apartment. The Owners Corporation dispute has possibly resulted in someone’s death. Totally unnecessary.
Section 106 of the Strata Schemes Management Act 2015 is abundantly clear; the Owners Corporation is compelled to maintain and repair common property. “Repair” means to fix up damaged items. “Maintenance” means to ensure that the building is kept at the standard that it was built.
We don’t have any statistics on this, but anecdotal evidence suggests that Owners Corporations wish to save money by not spending on maintenance and repairs. This tight-ass attitude has not only led to major building defects across the State but has also resulted in incredible psychological and health issues for those who are affected.
We know that many of the affected parties have made submissions to Senator Shoebridge regarding acts and omissions by Owners Corporations. It is only hoped that the Honourable David Shoebridge doesn’t ignore such submissions and seeks an extension of his terms of reference, to deal with tight-ass Owners Corporations who leave many at the mercy of defects created by laziness.
This article was written by Bailey Compton, Principal Solicitor & Director at Leverage Group.
Get in touch with Bailey: