There is water ingress throughout our building, and our strata management is acting extremely slowly. They have neglected the maintenance of the building. What can be done? – Julia, VIC

Q: Hi, we are experiencing water ingress throughout our building, and our strata management is acting extremely slowly in following their procedures. They have neglected the maintenance of the building (we found out at the AGM they have never cleaned the gutters) and seem to require the Owners Corporation Committee to give them instructions for every basic thing such as maintaining the gutters and building. They said they cannot make decisions on behalf of maintenance. It is a small building and small committee, and I simply don’t have the time to be doing so much of the managing, including directing them to do the maintenance that a building of that size should be done on a regular basis. Is this normal? We pay $10,000 a year in the maintenance fund so I assumed that some maintenance would be taking place, or are they correct in that they cannot do routine maintenance and that the committee must provide instructions to them to administer? If this is the case, can something be set up that will get them to be proactive about maintaining the building? I suspect the water ingress issues have progressed due to lack of maintenance and they have never been proactive about addressing it. Thank you.

A: The Owners Corporation (i.e., you, the lot owners) are responsible for requesting maintenance for the building. This is mandated by legislation or the Contract of Appointment. The Strata Manager generally cannot make decisions to engage a contractor or incur costs for the Owners Corporation.
We suggest that the Committee or Owners agree the frequency and scope of the gutter clean or routine maintenance items. Once that is decided, advise the Strata Manager, and they can obtain quotes and table them with the Committee/Owners at an AGM for approval to engage the contractors on behalf of the your Owners Corporation.

It is important to note that gutter cleaning may not be the responsibility of the Owners Corporation. The gutters may be private and not common property. You will need to seek guidance from the Plan of Subdivision to establish this fact.

If there is a maintenance fund, consider creating a maintenance plan to determine the expenditure; the Owners Corporation should generate and agree to this plan. Usually, a maintenance fund is for capital works/replacement rather than routine recurrent expenditure. For example, gutter cleaning is routine and recurrent. Usually, recurring costs should be budgeted annually in the administration fund. Conversely, the gutter replacement would be capital and should be provided for in the maintenance plan and then funded accordingly with annual contributions over several years.

We hope you find this information helpful.