Thinking Inside the Box

A Paddocks Sectional Title Lifestyle Blog

Quick Guide: Responsibility for Sectional Title Scheme Maintenance 

By Graham Paddock

Most scheme management questions relate to who is responsible for scheme repairs, maintenance and replacements. It is no surprise that everybody wants somebody else to do the work and pay the costs. 

Often owners will see a defect in their section and ask the trustees to fix it. They know that they are responsible to repair their section, but may argue that the body corporate is responsible because the problem is in a structural element of the building, such as a load-bearing wall. The issue of structural significance is not one that the Sectional Titles Schemes Management Act deals with at all. The fact that a part of the building is a structurally significant element does not mean that the body corporate is responsible to repair it. Trustees often think that because a part of the common property, such as a pipe or meter, only serves one owner, that owner should pay the repair costs. Again, the STSM Act does not support this proposition.

The issue becomes complex when owners claim that a defect in their section, such as a crack, results from a common property fault, such as a defective foundation. Here an expert opinion is often necessary.

But most of the issues are relatively simple. Tell owners to answer these four questions, and, in most cases, they will have the answer.

  1. Bearing in mind the section boundary as shown on the sectional plan, is the defect that requires repair or the item that requires maintenance or replacement:
    a. inside the section? If so, subject to 2, it is the owner’s responsibility to do and pay for the work, or
    b. outside the section? If so, subject to 3, it is the body corporate’s responsibility to do and pay for the work
  2. If it is inside the section, is it a common pipe, wire, cable or duct that serves more than just that section? If so, it is the body corporate’s responsibility to do and pay for the work.
  3. If it is outside the section, is it subject to exclusive use rights? If so, the body corporate must do the work and recover the costs from the owner.
  4. Is there a scheme rule or registered condition that changes the principles of the STSM Act, as set out above? If so, the rule or condition will specify who is responsible for carrying out and paying for the work.

One comment on “Quick Guide: Responsibility for Sectional Title Scheme Maintenance 

  1. Jean Borgstrom
    March 30, 2022

    Regarding maintenance of EUAs in Sectional Title the CSOS Circular no 1 of 2021 overrides the STSMA and states that when an EUA solely services the unit of an owner, that owner is responsible for the cost of all repairs and maintenance of that EUA.

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This entry was posted on March 30, 2022 by in Uncategorized.

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