Australian Property News
Slow body corporate owners paying the price
Posted on Monday, April 16 2012 at 3:49 PM
Body corporate owners who take too long to repair common property or respond to requests could be left to pay expensive bills and legal fees, according to legal firm Kemp Strang.
Partner Roger Mattar says the “absolute duty” of a body (or owners) corporation to promptly maintain common property was recently highlighted in the New South Wales Supreme Court.
“In this case, Mabel Dorothea Fligg versus The Owners Strata Plan 53457, the owner had encountered water penetration ever since she purchased the apartment in 2008,” he says.
“She made several complaints about the problem but the owners corporation was slow to recognise her water penetration issue and slow to properly address it.”
By the time the owners corporation investigated, obtained a specialist report and finally engaged the tradesperson to attempt to rectify the water penetration problem, it had caused serious damage to the apartment and loss of amenity to the owner.
In the meantime, the owner incurred out of pocket expenses for a specialist to produce a report on the problem, a solicitor to advise on her rights and for costs associated with commencing proceedings in the tribunal while waiting for the owners corporation to act.
“Despite the fact that an agreement had been reached between the owners corporation and Mrs Fligg in relation to the rectification of the water penetration issue, the Supreme Court found that Mrs Fligg was entitled to recover most of her out of pocket expenses,” Roger says.
Roger adds owners corporations can minimise the likelihood of this sort of situation by;
- ensuring the management committee meets regularly, keeps minutes including any agreed action items and has a mechanism in place for communications between meetings
- setting benchmarks around promptness of responses to queries
- agreeing to timelines for the strata manager to make recommendations about any issues
- setting deadlines for the strata manager.
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