Allan’s, from NSW, question relates to Settlement cracks in Strata Apartments
Our Strata home unit has settlement cracks in some internal walls & some ceilings & also some settlement cracks in floor tiles adjacent to the wall cracks plus a granite bench in the kitchen has a settlement crack.
Can you please advise me what is covered by Strata & what is not?
Settlement cracks in strata should be assessed by a qualified person as being of minor (cosmetic) nature first. A structural engineer could do those investigations and issue a report with recommendations. If it is a defect in the common property, such as drainage issue, then the owners corporation should investigate and take any steps necessary to rectify.
Minor settlement cracks in strata apartments are common, mostly aesthetic, and are usually treated and repaired prior to carrying out any internal painting (as part of the normal preparation for painting).
Cosmetic common property repair
The owner of a lot in a strata scheme may carry out cosmetic work to common property in connection with the owner’s lot without the approval of the owners corporation. This includes filing minor holes and cracks in internal walls. (Section 109)
Determining what is common property
In most strata schemes, the lot owner owns the inside of the unit but not the main structure of the building. Usually the four main walls, the ceiling, roof and the floor are common property. The basic rule is that everything inside a lot is the owner’s property which includes all internal walls, fixtures, carpet and paint on the walls.
Internal Walls: Internal walls are defined as walls within your lot space and exclude boundary walls. It is the responsibility of the owner to repair and maintain internal walls.
Ceiling: The ceiling common property boundary is generally formed by the under surface of the ceiling. The paint is the responsibility of the owner.
Floor Tiles: The first question to be asked here is whether the tiles are the original installation?
- Any tiles that were originally affixed to a common property surface (ie wall, floor or ceiling) at the time of registration of the plan are common property, unless the plan specifically states otherwise.
- Any tiles affixed to non-common property walls belong to the lot.
Kitchen Bench: This would be the responsibility of the owner to repair
Duty of the owners corporation to maintain and repair common property
Under the Act, the owners corporation has the responsibility to properly maintain the common property and keep it in a state of good and serviceable repair. Note that there is a two-year time limit to bring action against the owners corporation.
What will the owners corporation repair?
The question of whether and what maintenance and repair the owners corporation is required to do under Section 106 of the Strata Schemes Management Act 2015 in a particular case will always depend heavily on the circumstances.
- Are the cracks in the tiles hairline cracks or worse?
- Do the cracks pose a safety risk?
- Can the wall and ceiling cracks be repaired in the normal pre-preparation of internal painting?
If you are referring to large cracks, which are common property, this could well become an owners corporation issue.