A Q&A between strata lot owners answered by Strata Managers. Simplifying strata for you.
Question: A lintel above a lot owner’s door needs to be replaced due to extensive damage that could have been averted if better maintained. When it comes to common property maintenance, does any of the responsibility for damage fall to the lot owner?
I am one of the owners in a strata complex of 10 and am one of the members of the council of owners. The property is in Western Australia. The townhouses were built in 1978.
One of the owners has a problem with the steel lintel above the two meter sliding door that leads to the rear garden of their unit. The gardens and the courtyards are not part of the common property but are ‘owned’ by each unit. The common property includes the general area surrounding the units, the carports ,which are exclusive use, the visitors parking area and driveway, this also includes the security lights, reticulation of the verges and flower beds etc). The units are direct oceanfront with less than a single road width between the first unit and the beach.
The lintel in question is corroded and rusty and is beginning to flake. The owner wants it to be replaced.
My gut feeling is that some responsibility for the common property maintenance must be taken by the owner for the lack of maintenance. In other words had they, in the last 10 years, which I understand was the last time the units were painted by themselves, we wouldn’t have this problem. As such we can’t be held responsible for its repair. Would that be a reasonable premise?
Also, it has been suggested that the strata manager is responsible for the windows, doors, door frames and courtyard gates, many of which are in excess of 10 years old. What are the rules regarding this? I am assuming that the strata council has a responsibility to repaint at some time. Is there a guideline, say every 5 years?
Answer: Without seeing the strata plan, based upon the details that you have provided within, it would appear that the lintels form part of the building which is common property and therefore the strata company's responsibility to repair, maintain & renew as necessary.
Unless written or clearly defined within your strata by laws and or management statement, there is no timeline imposed to complete necessary maintenance. It is deemed however, that the maintenance is carried out on a routine basis and or when necessary so as not to cause a financial burden or nuisance etc. to owners or residents.
I can understand your comments regarding the requirement of the owner to repaint the lintel. I have spoken with a building contractor who has fulfilled work orders for many of our strata companies over the years and also does a considerable amount of major building repairs for the main strata company insurers here in Perth. The builder commented that lintels are galvanised dipped and they have a coating and should not rust. They do however, break down over a long period of time or can deteriorate earlier due to water ingress etc. This, based upon the description of your strata could be a common property maintenance item.
In all respects, it would be suggested that the strata company employ a suitably qualified and licensed builder who is familiar with strata to attend site to review, report and quote to repair this item and the cause of the damage and then remediate ASAP.
Answered by Elizabeth Florence
Director & Strata Manager