Strata Plumbing: Who Is Responsible?
While administration of strata units is generally covered by the owners’ corporation, things can get tricky when breakdowns and accidents occur.
Plumbing issues have to be top of the list when it comes to curly questions: Who is responsible for blocked drains? Water seeping up through tiles? Leaks that cause damage to other units?
The owners’ corporation generally employs a professional manager to oversee the running of the strata scheme.
These strata management services take responsibility for repair and maintenance issues arising in ceilings, boundary walls, tiles on boundary walls and floors, and balconies.
Issues arise when a problem affects both internal unit and communal areas, and these can sometimes be difficult to resolve.
Let’s take a look at some common plumbing malfunctions in strata schemes and who is responsible for resolving them.
NSW Government Fair Trading breaks down the areas as follows:
Burst pipe in the bathroom
The owners corporation is responsible for burst pipes in a boundary wall, while the owner takes responsibility for internal walls. If the pipe services multiple units, however, it will be an issue for the owners corporation.
Water from shower not draining
Any plumbing sited beneath the floor is dealt with by the owners corporation.
The shower head or taps are faulty
These are the responsibility of the individual lot owner.
Broken kitchen sink causing water damage
Everything included in the airspace of a unit’s bathroom or kitchen – rather than beneath floors or behind walls – is the responsibility of the individual owner including baths, showers, toilets, sinks and dishwashers. Therefore any damage caused by a leaky sink is the owner’s problem.
However, check with your owners corporation, as many have comprehensive insurance policies that cover damage to fixtures occurring within units.
A unit is damp and mouldy
Mould and mildew on internal walls is the responsibility of the individual owner. Any damp caused by water seepage through the external walls or floor, however, should be taken care of by the body corporate.
Water spilling from balcony above
While the body corporate is responsible for water running off common property, it can’t be held responsible for over-vigorous watering of plants on the balcony overhead. A quiet word with the offending neighbour might be all it takes to fix this.
Who is responsible for what in strata schemes?
According to Strata Community Australia NSW, the owners corporation is responsible for fixing the following plumbing problems:
- Blocked floor drain
- Blocked sewer
- Guttering on townhouse
- Main stopcock to unit
Issues which can be harder to determine, possibly involving some owner responsibility, are listed as:
- General burst pipes
- Damage to unit from water leak
- Dampness in a unit
- Water seeping into garage
- Water leaking from shower
- Water leaking through tiles
The grey areas involve identifying where the leaks start. Within the individual unit’s airspace the owner steps up, while beneath the floor or behind the wall is the province of the body corporate.
Whatever your problem, discuss it with your strata managers and get advice about how to proceed. It may not be as bad as you think!