The body corporate is required by law to undertake maintenance to those parts of the scheme for which it is responsible. Determining responsibility for maintenance is a specialised skill, and Capitol recommends owners contact their Community Relationship Manager with any queries relating to maintenance at their scheme.
The below information is an overview of general principles of maintenance in community titles schemes. Visit LEGISLATION + FACT SHEETS to read the relevant legislation, or to download a fact sheet on maintenance.
Format plan of subdivision
Most bodies corporate are categorised either as a building format plan or standard format plan. There are other types of plans, such as a volumetric format plan, however these are uncommon. The format plan type is shown on the registered plans for the scheme.
Building format plan
- Boundaries of a lot are defined by building elements (walls, balustrades, ceilings).
- This is the most common plan for units.
- If the scheme contains stacked lots or lots over common areas it is probably a building format plan.
- Many townhouse developments are building format plan.
- In this plan, the roof and most external surfaces are body corporate.
Standard format plan
- Boundaries of a lot are based on surveyed points on the land (like a normal house block).
- This type of plan is common with townhouses, or gated communities.
- If the lot doesn’t have other lots or common areas above or below it, it may be standard format plan.
Location and nature of the problem
Where is the source of the problem located?
- Within the lot boundary – the lot owner is usually responsible for maintenance, with very few exceptions.
- Inside the boundary structure of a lot (e.g. wall between two units, wall between unit and common property) – body corporate is usually responsible, with some exceptions.
- In a courtyard – the lot owner is usually responsible for maintenance (e.g. landscaping, hedges, water tanks and pumps etc). The body corporate is usually partly responsible for fencing.
- In a common property area (hallway, parking area, roof) the body corporate is responsible for structure (walls, handrails, flooring, light fittings) – responsibility to repair service/utility infrastructure located on common property is dependent on who benefits from that infrastructure.
Is the breakdown impacting more than one lot?
- If more than one lot is affected, the breakdown is usually in a communal system (communal hot water system, communal electricity failure, communal sewerage blockage). Communal systems are normally a body corporate responsibility.
General rules for building format plans
Hot water systems
- Servicing only one lot – always an owner’s responsibility, including connecting pipework.
- Servicing more than one lot (communal) – normally a body corporate responsibility.
- Split systems and ducted systems where each lot’s system is separate – an owner’s responsibility.
- Large central systems (high-rises, hotels) – normally body corporate.
- Owners usually have exclusive use of a courtyard and this comes with the responsibility to maintain it.
- Includes trees/plants in courtyard, pavers, shade sails, drainage etc.
Doors and windows
- If both sides of the window/door are inside the lot (e.g. door dividing the bathroom and bedroom), it is an owner’s responsibility.
- If the window/door is in the boundary structure of a lot (e.g. an external window on a 5th floor unit), the window/door is normally a body corporate responsibility.
Project management and large projects
Whilst the team at Capitol have exposure to large construction industry projects, we are not builders or project managers. Our team is not suitably experienced, licensed or insured to act in the role of a ‘project manager’.
If your body corporate is commencing a large scale project, generally with a value of $50,000+, we recommend the committee consider engaging a professional project manager to:
- Inspect the site and prepare an accurate scope of works
- Prepare project specifications, and tender documents
- Call for tenders
- Evaluate and recommend contractors
- Schedule and plan work with successful contractor
- Oversee OH&S, waste management, access issues
- Inspect regularly and approve stage payments
- Manage warranty and defect inspections
Unless you have an Engineer, Architect or Builder on your committee – your committee may be inexperienced at managing larger projects. The most common concern for committees is that they may get 2 or 3 quotes for a job, but they are difficult to compare because they have different terms and inclusions/exclusions. In one recent example, the body corporate appointed a contractor who had excluded crane access to a difficult site, which dramatically increased the cost of the work, beyond the budget and the other quotes.
Many of our clients have also given feedback that the tenders (quotes) arranged by the project manager were cheaper than the tenders provided direct to the committee. This may be because the contractors prefer to work with a professional project manager, or that the professional scope of works reduced the uncertainty or risk for the contractor. In some cases, this better pricing from the contractors has fully offset the cost of the project manger’s fee.
If you are interested in more information, please contact your Community Relationship Manager and we can put your committee in touch with a project manager who has worked recently with other clients.
Case studies – who is responsible?
The following scenarios have been compiled based on recent maintenance requests received by Capitol. These scenarios are dependent on the specific circumstances of each case and should not be relied upon. Visit OUR PEOPLE to contact your Community Relationship Manager if you have a maintenance query.
Q: A water leak is coming from a burst pipe in the wall between the ensuite and the walk-in wardrobe in a unit.
- The wall between the ensuite and wardrobe is within the lot. It is not in a boundary wall.
- The leak is in a pipe that services only that unit. It is not a shared pipe.
Q: A shower tray that is slightly below the bathroom floor level and tiled is leaking slowly into the unit below.
A: Owner is responsible for all shower trays and associated waterproofing/tiling, even if the shower tray is part of the floor.
Q: The garage door motor for a lot garage stops working. The garage is on the entry level of a block of 15 units. Every unit has a single garage with an electric roller door, installed as part of the original building.
A: Body corporate
- You work out the plan is building format plan, as units are stacked on top of one another.
- The motor is a fitting of the roller door, which is the boundary of the lot. It is a boundary door.
- The owner has not changed or installed the system, it was original to the building.
Q: A townhouse has a leaking roof caused by some sealant that has failed. You are not sure of the format plan type, so you phone Capitol and find out that it is a building format plan.
A: Body corporate
- Though the roof is only protecting that one townhouse, it is outside the lot, and therefore common property.
Q: A hot water pipe on the ceiling of the common property garage area is dripping onto cars. You trace the pipe back to the electric hot water system for lot 1.
- The leak is in the common property garage area, but the leak is part of a hot water system that only services lot 1. It is not a shared pipe.
- The hot water system (and all associated plumbing) is the responsibility of the owner of the lot that it services, even though the location of the leak is on common property.
- If the hot water system was communal (providing hot water to more than one lot) – the system and the plumbing would be a body corporate responsibility.
Q: The air conditioning has stopped working inside a top floor unit. The pipes go through the ceiling and then the compressor is attached to the wall outside. There is a gas leak in some air conditioner piping located in the ceiling space of the unit, and the condenser on the external common property wall is also rusted and not working properly.
- The owner of the air conditioned lot is responsible for the maintenance of the air conditioner and all associated infrastructure. The owner must fix the leak in the ceiling and also the condenser on the wall, even though these are located on common property.
- The body corporate is only responsible for centralised ducted air conditioning systems (usually only found in high-rise apartments)
Q: Sliding glass door from the lounge to the balcony needs repair (needs new runners, and new handle).
- The lot boundary is the edge of the balcony, so the wall between the lounge and balcony is within the lot. The door is not in a boundary structure, because the lot boundary is the handrail around the balcony.