Does body corporate have an obligation to compensate owners for water damage? If we say no, can the owner make a claim against the body corporate? – Graeme, QLD

Q: We have had a case where a water leak from an exterior wall (the silicone joint failed due to age) of our property caused damage to one of the units in the complex. This damage included the gyprock walls, carpet and some personal items.

The body corporate has effected repairs to the joints to prevent any future occurrence (at our cost). The body corporate has also claimed on the insurance for repairs caused by the water damage to the unit, but naturally, this does not cover the carpet nor the other contents damaged inside the unit. The owner of the unit has made a claim on his own contents insurance for these items but has requested some compensation from the body corporate to cover his excess.

The question we have is: does the body corporate have an obligation to compensate this owner (the committee has already voted 6 to 1 in the negative). If we say no, can the owner make a claim against the body corporate, like a civil claim or the like?

This action could set a precedent and could open up all sorts of scenarios, such as owners electing to have a $10,000 excess to reduce their premium, then expecting BC to pay the excess if the damage is caused.

 

A: The body corporate may have obligations to compensate the owner for the repairs/replacement to the carpet as the water leakage originated from an exterior wall i.e. common property.

Although your body corporate has voted in the negative for compensation, the owner may still have grounds to make a civil claim.

It may also depend on how soon your body corporate committee was able to rectify the issue. If the issue was rectified by the body corporate committee as soon as possible upon learning of the water leak, it could be argued that your duty to repair was carried out within a reasonable timeframe and not neglected. This could possibly help you argue against the owner if they were to make a claim.