Unauthorised Strata Works | Who is responsible for repairing them?
Unauthorised Strata Works
An owners corporation has a strict duty to repair and maintain the strata common property (Section 106). Recent case law could show a different position in relation to the maintenance and repair of unapproved renovations or unauthorised strata works.
The Krimbogiannis case centred on the responsibilities of the owners corporation in relation to dealing with unauthorised strata works being an unapproved change to common property.
The NSW Court of Appeal determined that where an occupier or owner of a lot has removed (or changed) common property without authorisation (formerly under section 62), the owners corporation has a duty to reinstate that common property and seek access to the lot to perform such works and if necessary seek a Tribunal or court order that such access be provided.
What does this all mean?
It could be interpreted that the owners corporation is responsible for removing any alterations or additions to the common property that have been made by an owner without its approval and restoring the common property to its previous condition. And that the owners corporation is not responsible for repairing defects in alterations or additions to the common property that have been made by an owner without its approval.
Where to from here?
If you were wanting to re-locate the kitchen today, it is likely that the type of renovation or alternation would be classified as a minor renovation and require a general resolution of the owners corporation (Section 110).
You have indicated a willingness to rectify the works at your own cost. Any reasonable owners corporation would see this as an appropriate course of action.
The owners corporation can choose to remove the common property alterations or negotiate with the new lot owner about their compliance and on-going maintenance costs.
If the owners corporation is prepared to allow the unauthorised strata works to remain, a by-law should be made to permit the works to be kept on certain conditions. Those conditions should include a requirement for the owner to maintain and repair the works.
Much of the above deals with complex unauthorised strata works issues. In your circumstances we are just talking about some dodgy wiring and plumbing. First, talk about it with the owners corporation and mutually agree on a way forward. Your strata manager or chairperson is the appropriate person to speak with.
A short email stating that you have discovered a wrongly installed sewer connection and that you seek permission to rectify the issue at your own cost. It is simply changing a drain connection from the sewer breather pipe to the building sewer. You can probably remain mute on the electrical work as this can be done without any approval.
The owners corporation may only require a scope of works, the contractor details along with their insurance and licence particulars.
If these negotiations stall or you can’t agree you should consider free mediation from Fair Trading.
This website does not give legal advice or any other professional advice. You should obtain legal advice before you take any action or otherwise rely upon the contents of this article