Who is responsible to fix unauthorised common property renovations? – Libby, NSW

Long before I purchased my ground floor apartment, the previous owner enclosed the balcony to become a sunroom. It has now become apparent that the work was done incorrectly and the sunroom is not waterproof, causing rising damp within the structure. Although considered common property, are the owners corporation still required to pay to fix the structure if the previous owner did not follow the proper approval processes in the first place? It was done around 20 years ago. Because it was done so long ago I can’t confirm if the original owner did in fact illegally renovate or if the current committee members are just trying to find a way out of paying for the damage. But there are other ground floor apartments with the same renovation so it would appear that they were all done at once. Please help! 

–  Libby, NSW

The owners corporation is ideally responsible for overseeing all strata property repairs, renovations and their ongoing maintenance. As per NSW regulations, waterproofing is considered a major repair and any defects related to waterproofing is the owners corporations responsibility.

In recent cases like your own, the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal and The NSW Court of Appeal have determined that where an occupier or owner of a lot has removed (or changed) common property without authorisation, the owners corporation has a duty to reinstate that common property and seek access to the lot to perform such works. Visit the NSW Case Law website to read about a similar case we’ve found regarding unauthorised renovations by a previous owner.

For more information on NSW common property defects, read our article here.