When residents living in strata properties encounter plumbing issues, they need to determine whether the homeowner, the building manager or the strata owners corporation is responsible for the repair and maintenance. Resolving matters can be confusing and complicated for all parties concerned, so we’ve created a guide to help you identify which party is responsible for what when the six common plumbing issues in strata properties arise.
1. Balcony Leaks
If the properties in your strata development have balconies, you will know how frustrating it can be when water pours from the balcony above onto your own. In this case, strata plumbing responsibility depends on the reason behind the leak. If the water is running down from the roof or there is a burst pipe in the area, it will typically be up to the strata owners corporation of the building to address the plumbing issue.
However, most often, it is that your upstairs neighbour has plants on their balcony. When they water those plants, excess water can spill over the sides and onto your balcony below. Your strata owners corporation may have specific rules regarding instances like this, though that is not always the case.
You may be left on your own devices to deal with this problem. Often, all you’ll need to do is have a brief chat with your neighbour to get them to be more mindful of where the water is going.
2. Blocked Drains
Blocked drains are the most common type of plumbing problem. Determining who is responsible requires identifying the location of the blocked drain. Usually, a blocked toilet drain or kitchen sink drain will be the owner’s responsibility as the blockage is located within their property.
Floor drains that fall under the jurisdiction of the owners corporation are shower drains and other floor drains, as the pipes running from these drains often go underneath the floor and service multiple properties. It may be difficult to determine whether any single owner caused the blockage in this instance.
This type of blocked drain tends to affect multiple residences, so the strata owners corporation is responsible for repairing the damage. This also applies to blocked sewer drains that serve the entire building.
3. Burst Water Pipes
The location and function of the pipe that burst will determine who is responsible for repairing it. Generally speaking, the strata management company is responsible for leaking pipes underneath the floor.
Not all scenarios follow this rule, however. A pipe that runs through your wall, for instance, would make you think that you are responsible for it. But if the pipe services both your and your upstairs neighbor’s property, it is the strata management company that is responsible for fixing it. Burst pipes that run inside the wall between two different strata properties would also be the responsibility of the strata owners corporation.
4. Leaking Fixtures
Fixtures like taps or shower heads are sealed tightly to avoid leaking. However, gradual wear and tear over time will cause those seals to deteriorate, resulting in leaking from the base tap and shower head. These are not internal property components, so they nearly always fall to the individual owner to shoulder the cost of repairs.
Fortunately, these are usually straightforward fixes that won’t impact your wallet. If the damage is minor, you might need to repair or replace the seal to get everything back in working order. If the damage is significant, you might need to replace the entire fixture.
5. Mould, Rot or Corrosion from Seepage
Water damage comes in the aftermath of a burst pipe. Whoever is responsible for fixing the burst pipe will also be accountable for covering the cost of repairing the water damage.
Instances of water damage also have a high chance that mould and mildew will form if the problems are not addressed quickly enough or if the repairman is not thorough in drying out the area. Mould and mildew located in the internal walls of your property will be your responsibility. But if the water damage forms on the floor, ceiling, external walls and shared boundary walls, the burden falls on the strata owners corporation.
6. Significant vs. Minor Repairs & Maintenance
Individual property owners may wish to simply take care of relatively easy and inexpensive repairs rather than dealing with the red tape of the strata owners corporation. This is fine if your strata scheme has no rules forbidding it.
When it comes to significant repairs, it is best to check with the strata manager beforehand. If you believe the responsibility should fall on them, make every effort to get the strata management to shoulder the cost. You will not want to foot the bill if you don’t have to.
It is undeniably challenging to deal with strata plumbing issues because the fittings, fixtures and pipes are constructed differently than for a standalone residence. The problems from an internal plumbing system are the individual owner’s responsibility, whilst those that belong to common infrastructure are the strata corporation’s responsibility.