Strata balcony repairs and restoring to common property – Kim, NSW

Q: I live in a 2 story brick apartment units built in 70s shown in Strata Plan dated Jan 1975. In the Strata plan, balcony is linked to unit with “SS” in all units.
The unit owner above does not take care of his balcony. For number of years, ferns, plants have been growing in the mortar joints of his balcony wall. Although he did trim them from time to time, they re-grow. His uncovered balcony is often wet from rain and floor washing. Water has penetrated through the joints caused by the plants and drip down into my balcony below. The drip loosened the cement mortar of my brick balcony and conc spalling of the drip grove. Pieces of concrete in 2 difference break and fall and rebars exposed.

According to the strata manager, the balcony is classified as Owner owned. One Strata committee wanted repair for all balconies and raised special levy for it. As a few balconies chipped or spalled naturally due to poor workmanship in the past but my unit above who did nothing to stop plants from growing. Further, he had tiled his floor. (Owner owned?)

  1. Does Strata Committee has right to carry repairs for all and imposed special levy?
  2. One reason, Committee wants uniformity in the floor slab but forgot Strata Manager refuse to re-cement the 7 loose bricks
  3. Strata Committee has right to put balconies back to owner’s corporation?
  4. Strata Manager, said they dont have right to force owners to carry out repairs? (I informed Strata Manager the danger of falling concrete, possible collapse and dripping from floor washing affect my drying)
  5. If the balcony is reverted back to common area, does it mean owners need not to care? Continue plants to grow in the joints and water to leak? The Owner just scrap the plant but not de-roots. Can still see the shoot has re-grown. Further he has added tiles onto the floor.

A: The strata committee are able to classify balconies as common areas. To do this, however, a registered surveyor must be engaged to prepare what is known as a “Strata Plan of Consolidation” for registration with NSW Land Registry Services.

If balconies are reinstated as common property, the responsibilities for their repairs and maintenance will fall back onto the owners corporation. This will also mean any requests made by owners regarding their balconies – especially if the request is raised due to concerns about health and safety – the owners corporation must attend to the matter and repair or maintain the balcony in a timely manner. They will also be able to raise special levies if the need for extra funds arises.

Balconies moving back to common property also means that they must all have the same look. Your strata committee may ban any changes to balconies unless an owner has a renovation by-law drafted, agreed upon at a meeting, and registered before making any changes to the appearance of their balcony.

It will be up to your strata committee to work these matters out, along with help from your strata manager. The strata manager is there to give advice and help your committee make the best decisions for the strata scheme.